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How Frugality F*cked Up Our TV

A few years back we installed a satellite dish at our vacation home and ordered service to DirectTV. Shortly after the installation I considered ditching our cable TV, but before cutting the cord I sent out a survey to a bunch of our repeat renters to ask their opinion.

Most of our guests told us that they only watch television when the weather is bad and they were concerned that satellite service wouldn’t work during a major storm, so we made the very strange choice to keep satellite for ourselves and for any renters who wanted to watch it, but also keep cable for the renters in case storms arise during their vacation. Our cable bill was only $20 a month, (due to a promotion), and during the off season we place our service in vacation mode, which costs $10.

Well this year something went horribly wrong when I asked the cable company to place our service in vacation mode and since we don’t watch cable we had no idea the service was out until the first renter called to complain about it.

This is where things get a little crazy. I called the cable company and asked them to place the service back into active mode. They said that wasn’t possible, because the service had been completely turned off at the pole. In other words, rather than making the change to vacation mode they turned off our service all together. I vaguely remember a customer service representative telling me that she could save us more money by making a change to our service, but I certainly didn’t remember her telling me that the savings would come from completely shutting off our access to it.

I calmly asked the customer service representative what needed to be done and he explained that someone would need to come out to the pole and turn our cable access back on. He also said that someone would need to be available at our home so that the technician could verify the change. My husband asked for clarification and we were told that the tech would just need to make sure the cable was working when the television turned on. The representative then told me he was going to sign us up for a promotional rate that would ensure we paid the least amount possible for the same level of service.

Well our vacation home is roughly 250 miles from our primary home, so there was no way we could be onsite for this change, but we informed our rental management company so they could let the technician into our home. We were told the cable was back up and running and thought nothing more about it until we drove down to North Carolina this weekend.

When we arrived our satellite receiver was on the floor, a digital cable box was on the shelf where the receiver used to reside and all of the cables were strewn about. We knew the satellite service wouldn’t work if the receiver wasn’t plugged in so my husband plugged it in, but it didn’t receive a signal.

For some very strange reason the technician cut our satellite line. We didn’t ask him to do this, we didn’t expect him to do this and to be honest we were pretty pissed off that he made this change. We also didn’t ask for digital cable. Prior to this time we had analog cable and we were perfectly fine with that. (Remember it’s just a back up so renters can watch TV on rainy days.)

In an effort to cut down on costs in the off-season we some how managed to have the cable service turned off, (turning it back on cost us $50), and my husband had to spend a day and a half restoring the cables to our satellite service. Worse yet we had to drive thirty miles out of the way to return the digital cable receiver we didn’t want and didn’t request in the first place.

Of course, if we had been onsite when the technician came out to make the change we could have informed him of the error and watched his work to ensure he didn’t cut the cable to our satellite TV, but we were 250 miles away.

I learned three very valuable lessons through all of this. First, when a customer service representative says they can save you money ask for clarification. I had absolutely no idea our service was going to be turned off at the pole rather than being placed in vacation mode. Also, when a representative says they are going to provide you with a promotional rate ask for clarification of the type of service. In our case, we were never informed that the promotional rate involved a change from analog to digital service. If we were told about that change we would have kindly said thanks-but-no-thanks to the promotional offer. Lastly, be very clear with the rental management company about the change to be made. We should have explained to them that the cable technician just needed to turn on the TV. If they understood the change being made they never would’ve allowed him to cut our satellite or install a digital cable box!

In the name of saving ourselves a couple of bucks each month we caused ourselves two days of misery. We not only had to repair the satellite service the technician purposely destroyed, but we also had to drive out of our way to return the digital cable box and pay $50 to get the service turned back on!

Beth

Friday 29th of June 2012

Oh my goodness...what a debacle. I would call the cable company and speak to the supervisor. Yes, maybe you should have asked, but for them to cut your wire to the satellite? Why would anyone assume they would do that? I have dealt with our cable company last year on many occassions, and I have been able to get a great deal, all for expressing my genuine concern over my cable. Although, I did get aggravated at one point last year that while I was on vacation, 'someone' on my account upgraded us to the gold package. I told the woman that we were away on vacation, and only myself and my husband are on the account and I was with him the whole time. He wouldn't even know what number to call to upgrade. When she asked if anyone had access to my home in my absence, I said no. She asked if I had any pets....Im not kidding. yes, I have a cat. Well, then maybe the cat turned on the TV and hit the button to upgrade the package. Apparently you can upgrade your stuff via your remote control....OMG wouldn't kids do that all that time? And they are not authorized? How is that even possible...what if my home was robbed? And the burglar did that? I'm expected to pay? NO So I got reimbursed and all that....but I had to call about a dozen time, and on the 13th time I was ready to go to DISH, and I got someone that went over my WHOLE account...showing that THEY screwed up on their end..... So it's worth a shot to call them and try to get that settled...even if you think it was your error (which I don't think it is..they should have to explain the changes and all that...you shouldn't have to ask). I'm sure that would be a great topic for a new blog post :)