Sunday, February 1, 2015

Cutting the Cord

We did a Lorena Bobbitt on our subscription

I cannot think of a better day to announce this.  On a day when one-third of the country will be glued to one event on the television for 3-4 hours (depending on the competitiveness of the game, cuteness of the ads, and whether Katy Perry had a wardrobe malfunction), we proudly announce that we no longer have television.  As we once knew it, I mean.

We live at the end of the earth, 500 yards from the Pacific Ocean, and 90 miles from metro Portland, so “free TV” (via antenna) is not possible; hence, the need for cable.  We endured Charter for five years before switching to Dish.  Now, we have nothing, and aren’t sorry a bit.

A bit of backstory.

For a long time our television viewing habits have been adjusting, so much so that we hardly ever turn on the set.  The average American watches what – 5 hours or more per day, and as we age we’re supposed to watch more.  Despite this, we found little to turn the set on for.  Many of our 120 channels are shopping channels and religious, and many of the others have repeats of shows that we didn’t watch in the first place when they were on 10-20-30 (or more) years ago. 

We barely watch two shows a week, so…after much consideration, and despite the new season of Downton Abbey (one of the shows we watched with some regularity), we decided to cut the cord.  We figured we could entertain ourselves as we had been – DVDs, radio, newspapers (kids – ask your parents), and, of course, the internet, which is where we got most of our news and entertainment, anyway.  As I mentioned above, we had DISH, and unfortunately for us, we decided to cancel our subscription at the height of their feud with FOX NEWS about two weeks ago.  That’s when things went downhill, fast.

When I called to cancel, I told them we didn’t watch hardly ANY TV, so we didn’t see the value in shelling out $60 per month just to watch a couple of programs and the news.  They didn’t believe me.  They thought we wanted out because they no longer carried FOX NEWS.  They made me call a special number where I was put on hold for 11 minutes (after entering all of my account info via phone, beep-beep-boop-pe-be-beep-etc.).  I went through the clerk’s questions, pointedly telling her why we wanted to stop our subscription.  She asked me for all of the info I had already entered.  I complied.  And after…she said nothing.  Finally, after two minutes, she said, “Please wait a moment.”  We waited two minutes more.  Silence.  Finally, I asked, “What are we waiting for now?” 

She said, “                                                                        .”

Two more minutes.  She said, again, “Please wait a moment.”  We waited another two minutes in silence (I really think they hope you’ll hang up and not quit them).  She came back to tell me I qualified to get my subscription for about 60% LESS for the next 10 months if I stayed with them.  No, I said, I wish to discontinue.  Another minute.  She told me they could extend the discount for 18 months.  Still, no.

After another minute, she told me how to return my equipment and what it would cost (her tone went from stony to icy…if that’s possible).  After a grand total of 35 minutes, we were done.  And I mean DONE.  Except that, two weeks later, I have yet to receive the box in which I’m supposed to send the receiver and remote back to them (and get charged for the privilege).

I wasn’t pissed at DISH before I decided to end my subscription.  But I was now.

So eager to get me as a customer, but once I decide to end the relationship, I’m treated like this?  I’ve had college girlfriends who dumped me a lot nicer than this.  Early in the conservation I did ask the DISH clerk about potential re-connection if we changed our minds later, but after all this – no way. 

Next day, I got two emails imploring me to come back (and offering all those discounts).  Then two mailings in three days, and then another couple of emails.  “We want you back!  Save $$$ (same shitty programming, of course).”  By this time, they had restored their relationship with FOX NEWS (not that I cared), and they made certain that I knew this in all of their communication (speaking of shitty programming). 

And now I hear about “Sling TV,” a new service that streams specific programming to your computer or device.  Lots of sports and many channels that we actually thought had decent stuff.  It sounded good at $20 until I heard who was behind it – DISH.  Not gonna happen.

There is a revolution coming, and the way we entertain/inform ourselves will be dramatically different in the years to come.  For us, we can wait a while.


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