I am on TV right now. Or, at least, I think I am. I don’t know, because Comcast is the most miserable tech company I’ve ever had to deal with.
Err, actually the second most miserable, but only by a nose.
Some time ago, i got contacted by producers from the Oprah Winfrey network. They were shooting a segment of “Our America” about polyamory. I pointed them to some friends of mine, who they liked so much they set up a camera crew in their house for weeks. They also filmed a smigeon of zaiah and I, and… Anyway, I was curious to see how it all turned out.
The show was set to air today, something I didn’t realize ’til this afternoon. So zaiah went down to the Comcast Worker’s Dormitory, Public Relations Orifice, and Meat Processing Plant to pick up a cable box. We plugged it in. Went through a lengthy process on Comcast’s miserable Net-site to “activate” the box, whatever that means. Web site said “OK, now activating your cable box, please wait 45 minutes.”
Which is a little weird; in 45 minutes, Russian organized crime can infect 250,000 American PCs with malware, so taking 45 minutes to program a cable box seems inefficient. But whatever.
Then the Web site said “Success! Your cable box has been activated.”
Connect the box to the TV, nothing. Okay, bad cable maybe? Go outside the house, in the rain, diddle with the cable connection. Nothing. Replace the cable. Nothing. Run a known-good cable through the window into the house. Still nada.
Take the cable connector out of the wall. Looks good. Replace the cable that came with the cable box, the one that goes from the wall to the box. Still nada.
Call tech support. “No problem, we’ll reset your cable box. Should take ten minutes.”
10 minutes later, I’m 10 minutes older but no closer to working cable.
Move the cable box around the house in a bizarre game of whack-a-cable-outlet. Nothing works anywhere. (Seriously, who uses cable any more, anyway?)
OWN is not available streaming over the Internet; presumably, Oprah, who is, like, the richest woman in he world or something, isn’t getting enough fees to allow Net streaming.
Okay, back on the phone with tech support. “We can’t see your cable box.”
Okay, fine. Move it to a different cable outlet. “We still can’t see it. You’re on a TV show, you say? About polyamory? What’s that?”
The inevitable “what is polyamory?” conversation over, we start playing this whack-a-cable-outlet game again. No matter where we go, the tech says “I sill can’t ping your cable box.”
Go back online to Comcast’s miserable activation page on Comcast’s miserable Web site. “You have 1 cable device (1 not activated).”
Apparently, it will tell you “activation successful” even if the device in question is disconnected, turned off, shot repeatedly with a 12-gauge, and buried in a lead-lined box outside of Roswell, New Mexico beneath a crumpled up ball of aluminum foil and two empty cans of baked beans. When the Web site says “activation successful,” that doesn’t mean that the activation was successful, you see…it simply means that enough time has passed that the Comcast Central Babbage Engine should have been able to align the gears and pulleys to the right configuration to activate the box.
zaiah is still on the phone with the tech this whole time, while our dinner slowly turns to charcoal and then catches fire on the stove. The tech is being really patient (and curious), but nothing works.
Finally, I yank the cable out of the cable modem, which we know works on account of I was able to communicate through the web-net on the Internet-tubes to the Babbage engine that runs Comcast’s Net-site, and plug it straight into the cable box.
“Oh,” chirps the tech, “your cable box is defective. Please bring it to your nearest Comcast cable Box Redemption Center and place it on the redemption line.”
Which might have explained why when zaiah picked it up from the Comcast Worker’s Dormitory, Public Relations Orifice, and Meat Processing Plant the person-unit behind the counter mentioned casually as if in passing that she’d plug the box in and make sure the blinkenlights came on because “we’ve had a bunch of bad boxes lately.”
So after four plus hours of work, we were unable to see the show. We had several friends over who were also on the program, because, like, who the fuck has cable nowadays anyway?
If you could even begin to feel one one-hundredth of the depth of my frustration and rage at Comcast right now, your monitor would catch fire.