It occurs to me that I forgot to tell you about out little adventure here, last week.
I cannot even remember which television and Internet service we had originally, when we moved into this house, because I made Otto deal with it. I believe my exact words were, “Please make it go.” Because that’s how I roll; it doesn’t matter to me—as long as it works—whereas Otto is likely to actually do some research and take care of it, and that’s part of why I like having him around. So he set up whatever it was and it (mostly) worked and that was fine.
But then a few years back we got iPhones, which meant switching away from Verizon to AT&T, and that’s when we fell down the rabbit hole. AT&T assured us that now we could save lots of money if we bundled products with them! Why, we were already using them for home phone and cell phone service, why not use their partner TV service and get their Internet service, as well? We could save DOLLARS!
I like dollars. Specifically, I like saving them. Also, I enjoy paying only one bill for four different services, too, so Otto checked it all out and we signed up to be assimilated into the AT&T Borg. And that was (mostly) fine.
I don’t even remember what happened, then. We got a new modem and all new cable boxes, I remember. We’d had a cable modem and switched to DSL, I think. I vaguely recall a late-night viewing marathon predicated on the need to watch everything on the old DVR box before we traded it back in. Fine.
The new stuff was all fine. We’re now on DISH network for the television, which is fine 98% of the time. (The remaining 2% is composed of heavy thunderstorms which cause us to lose signal, and the fact that our DVR spontaneously records little informercials like “We DISH you a Merry Christmas!” every so often.)
But then, man. Then AT&T started running all of these commercials bragging about U-verse. It’s a world of possibilities! It slices, dices, and even makes beautiful julienned fries! It’s faster than every before! It’s super-sexy! ONLY LOSERS DON’T HAVE U-VERSE!
We periodically checked online to see if we were eligible for U-verse, and it always said it hadn’t come to our area yet, because we live in the sticks. Apparently you need some fancy fiber optic cables coming to your house for this stuff. Whatever. We gave up on U-verse.
But then we called AT&T because I kept seeing all of these promos advertising our current service for less than what we’re paying, and by “we” I mean “Otto” because I whined at him until he agreed to do it. All I wanted was for him to find out if we could get the promotional price on our current service. But by the time he was done, he’d signed us up for U-verse, which is now available on our street. Woohoo! We were told our new bundle—which was going to include way more stuff than our old one—would actually cost about $5 less per month than our current plan. Fine. Good.
So last week the guys came to get us all hooked up. They started by cutting off our current Internet about half an hour before they arrived, which was no problem at all because it’s not like I work from home on the Internet, or anything. Wait. (Hey, not a problem! That’s what cellular modems are for!)
Two very nice men showed up and started casing the property and then came to the door to tell me that they couldn’t figure out where our telephone access box was. They wanted me to tell them where to find it. When I said, “Ummm… on the outside of the house…?” they were not impressed. So—like the bright problem-solver that I am—I asked them to hang on a minute while I called my husband to ask him, because he tends to know these things.
Indeed, Otto knew that the mysterious hidden box is located under our deck. Problem solved! I reported my findings and Guy1 went off to deal with the phone. In no time at all I had no phone service. Because he was totally on top of making my life even better.
Meanwhile, Guy2 asks for a tour of the televisions in the house. I thought that was a little odd, but he was wearing little blue sanitized booties over his shoes (how considerate) so I figured it was okay. I showed him
last year’s Christmas our HDTV in the family room, the little set in our bedroom, and the ancient set in the kid’s playroom. [Unrelated: I think I need to renamed that room now that the kids are older, particularly as mostly all they do in there is read or watch insipid programming I refuse to sully the big TV with. Maybe we could call it the rec room. Or the library. Or the OH MY GOD WHOSE DIRTY SOCKS ARE THESE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FLOOR? room.] Guy2 nodded and made a few notes in his little log book and then when we came back downstairs he said he had to tell me something. He looked very serious.
What follows is an exact transcript of what he said to me, as I heard it:
“Ma’am, the U-verse cabling system has four signal channels, and at optimum signal it can support three HD signals and one regular one, but it depends on the distance of the televisions sets from the access point, which in your case is up there on the street already at nearly the maximum distance from the house to where we would consider it a viable signal. Blah blah blah blah channels blah blah blah signal degradation blah blah blah might not get HD signal blah blah blah blah might not be able to record HD signal blah blah blah signal strength blah blah blah may represent a significantly decreased quality of service blah blah blah do you need to call your husband to ask him about it?”
To my credit, my head didn’t actually explode. A little gray matter may have dribbled out my ears, but thankfully I have a lot of hair as camouflage and I don’t think he noticed.
Once I stopped being annoyed, I was actually sort of amused that just because I had to call my husband to find out where the access box for the phone is (hi, do I ever USE the access box for the phone, EVER?), he seemed to assume that I wasn’t allowed to make independent decisions. Poor little me! I’m just gonna get back in the kitchen and bake my man a pie!
Anyway. I told him that no, I didn’t need to call my husband. But that he’d just told me what MIGHT be the case with signal strength, and should he, you know, TEST IT so that I would know what we were ACTUALLY dealing with before I made a decision? He agreed that that made sense.
Guy2 tromped back outside, ran about a zillion feet of cable around the property, and then came inside to report that, as he’d feared, they could only run the bare minimum of the Super Awesome U-verse Signal down to the house, meaning that we could watch one HD program at a time, never record in HD, and if we ever upgrade the other TVs, well, too bad so sad.
“Well,” I said, “that sounds like it would be kind of a dumb thing to do, don’t you think?”
“Yes ma’am, I’d have to agree,” he said, ever-polite but now somewhat glum.
“Soooo…” I was trying to work through this, mentally. “Is the new Internet still going to work…?” He assured me that the Internet works off either a different cable or the same cable but a different channel or maybe that his truck was filled with magical leprechauns who will hand-deliver the Internet signal over the rainbow. I don’t know. I wasn’t listening past the part where he assured me that it would still work. And also that it would be twice as fast as our old service.
And then, my friends, I totally broke the system: I told him we still wanted the Internet, but not the new TV or phone service.
“But… but…” I don’t think this had ever happened to him before. “The call is for the bundle, and it’s in the computer, and if I don’t complete it all I can’t go out on the rest of my calls, and… oh man, we’re gonna have to call corporate,” he finally finished.
“That’s fine,” I said. “I need to talk to someone to make sure the price is comparable on this, anyway.”
Guy2 called AT&T on his cell phone. I half-wished for the irony of his signal crapping out on the call, but he actually only had to wait on hold a few minutes and then we got an extremely helpful service rep who assured me we could have our new! faster! Internet for only $5 more a month, and then they set to work figuring out how to fix Guy2’s schedule so that he wouldn’t have to just live at our house for the rest of his life because the computer wouldn’t allow him to move on to his next service call.
We were only without phone service for about three hours (and mind you, we didn’t even switch service), and I eventually had to leave to meet friends for lunch—Otto came home to babysit the techs—and Otto tells me it only took them another few hours to get the Internet hooked up. You know, the whole thing was accomplished with the kind of grace and speed I’ve come to expect from corporate America.
Our new modem is larger than the dog, and comes with an associated battery pack so that it will continue to work in a power outage. That almost—almost!—makes up for the entire day it took to get the damn thing installed.
Plus, the fries it makes are truly stupendous.