-- Augustine of Hippo --
I checked out cable TV for the new house online this morning. Apparently, there is only one company that services this area, Optimum.
According to their website, they do have a basic service for $17.29 per month plus $1.50 for each additional TV set, which has a whole slew of channels, including ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, FOX, and CNN, which is pretty much all I want. I don't need all those fancy cable-only channels; it's dangerous for me to have too much choice. I'd never get anything done. (And if someone who visits often wants more, like sports and comedy, he's welcome to pay the extra for it.)
The price for basic was right, the selection was adequate, so I tried to order it online. And hit a snag. Basic isn't an option to order. I can order all kinds of fancy packages, but not basic.
So I finally gave up (their website is impossible to navigate, I went around in circles) and called the phone number to order service.
I got an entirely different story from what the website says, and then the conversation with the Optimum rep went even farther off the rails.
Me: "I just tried to order service on your website, and went around in circles."
Brittany: "You don't want to do it on the website anyway. They don't even look at those orders for two weeks. On the telephone, we put it right in."
Me: "Ok. I want to get Basic service." ((I have already lost confidence in this bunch.))
Brittany: "For Basic you get 10 channels for $29 dollars."
Me: "That's not what the website said. It says Basic gets a rather large set of non-premium channels for $17.29."
Brittany: "No. Just ten. $29."
Me: "Do those 10 channels include ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and PBS? If so, that's enough for me."
Brittany: "No. To get those channels you need the IO Family package. That's $44.95 a month."
Me: "That seems like a lot for channels I'm currently pulling in off the air with rabbit ears."
Brittany: "Well, you won't be able to do that much longer. Those channels are going digital pretty soon, so you won't be able to get them with an antenna. Not without a digital box, anyway."
Me: ((Huh? Long pause. What the hell is she talking about?)) "Uh, the channels I'm getting ARE digital, and I've got digital TV sets. I'm watching them in digital. Off the air. With the antenna on the set."
Brittany: "Well, you won't be able to much longer."
Me: ((This woman is nuts. Or she's been in cold storage for more than a year.)) "Are you folks the only cable company serving this area?"
Brittany: "Yes. Very few people in your area have satellite because of the weather."
Me: "So, what do I need to get the channels I want, for how much?"
Brittany: "You'll need the Family package. That's $44.95 per month. How many sets will you have?"
Me: "Three or four." ((One in my bedroom, one in the workroom, one in the kitchen, maybe one in the living room.))
Brittany: "Well for three boxes, that's $65.86, and for four it's $75.75."
Me: "That's almost $10 extra for each box. Your website says less than $2 for each additional." (($10? For WHAT?))
Me: "This is ridiculous. I'm going to have to speak to some of the neighbors."
Me: "Bye." ((Click.))
Now, am I nuts or badly informed? Is she nuts? Is this normally what basic cable service, including local broadcast channels, goes for? Especially when it's the only service and therefore there's no competition, and therefore they should be regulated?
None of the numbers she quoted have any relation to the numbers on the website, neither price nor channels available. Can I report them to someone for false advertising, or bait and switch, or something? And to whom?
Something is very wrong here.