Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Company: We Appreciate Your Business, and Fuck You Very Much

I turned on the television this evening and received the on-screen message that our cable box was not communicating with the satellite dish, meaning no television.

The same thing happened about a week ago. I called customer service. The operator with whom I spoke via my cell phone, an electronic voice with limited voice response capabilities, had the effect of notching my humanness way, way down. DirecTV is saying, "We don't care who or what you are, if anything, or we'd provide a person to turn your TV back on." It's the equivalent of a Telephonic Finger.

"Please give your nine-digit phone number, starting with the area code," says DirecTV's electrohelper, who has all the charm of a gastroenterologist about to administer a colonoscopy. I say, "Do you have any idea how idiotic it makes me feel to repeat my phone number to my phone?"

She says, "Sorry, I didn't get that. Please say the nine digit telephone number associated with the account, starting with the area code." What, does someone really think I might give it backwards? I meekly comply, after which she says, "The number you gave was, (she repeats it numeral by numeral), is that correct? Please say, Yes, or, No."

By this time, we're about five minutes into a call to a number you worked hard to even find in order to get your fucking television to telecast, and you're no closer than when you started, except you're having a stilted, monosyllabic conversation with your telephone and you're being made to feel as inanimate as the phone, and the conversation isn't a conversation, it's something closer to a liturgy. Lord, hear our prayer. Lord, have mercy.

Voice, fix my TV.

The same catastrophe happened about a week ago. I called customer service. First, electronic Purgatory. The purported technician, when I finally reached her, told me nothing could be done, as Colorado was in the middle of a snowstorm. I told her it wasn't snowing yet, but this inconvenient factoid did not seem to compute.

I called again the next day. Same thing--service calls were shut off because of the storm. My wife called a few days later, and the tech guy walked her through a repair protocol involving actions on both ends of the conversation. "Anyone you talked to earlier could have done this," he said, getting three televisions on three floors to work. Gee, thanks. 

Tonight, it all happened again. Twenty-five minutes into the loosely-named conversation, a tech guy ropes me through yet another protocol completely different than the one my wife went through, which didn't work, and he offered to put out a service call. However, since we had elected not to buy DIrecTV's $6-per-month "Service Guarantee" or whatever the hell it's called, we were a few days past our installation warranty and the call would cost $49.99, or would we like to sign up for the Service Guarantee right now and they would graciously waive the $49.99? 

He went on to explain the benefits of the additional $5.99 per month, never once pausing to wonder how suspicious the offer looked to someone with half a brain: Oh, we declined the Service Guarantee. System Fail, just days after the warranty expiration. But if you pay $5.99 a month, THIS WILL NEVER, EVER HAPPEN AGAIN!

Isn't this called a protection racket, and haven't a few Gambinos or whatever gone down for this? Oh, I'm sorry your fucking window, which has never cracked, ever, just broke. Pay me six bucks a month and it will never happen again.

OK, I'm picking on DirecTV here, but it doesn't matter which corporation it is. If you're a customer, you're (a) so meaningless that you're only worthy enough to converse with your telephone, (b) game for being assaulted with sales pitches for stuff in which you have absolutely no interest, and (c) pretty much relegated to the slag heap once you've signed the bottom line.

The bottom line of the contracts which protects the company in case of a dispute, by the way (yeah, I read them) and fucks the customer. Don't like the part where they sell your personal information? Tough shit. Contracts are for signing, not negotiating.

And, speaking of the bottom line--have you ever read through the entire set of "Terms and Conditions" that comes with virtually anything you do? Download an iPhone update, and you have pages and pages of legalese you have to agree to sans discussion, let alone representation.

Don't like our Terms and Conditions? That's okay. This is America, after all, and we have choices if we don't like DirecTV. We can go to Dish, Comcast, Charter or whoever and be just as summarily fucked over if we prefer. Take that, Bangladesh.

Back to the precipitate issue. After, maybe, forty-six minutes of conversation, misinformation, useless information, put-on-hold and so on, the resolve is a service call five days from today--Sunday afternoon, to be exact.

Thank you DirecTV. You help make America what it is today.

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