In which Steve Grace, the former president of L.A. Channel 36, does battle again with our local monopolistic cable provider...
My Time Warner cable/internet saga continues. For those of you who missed the first installment, here’s the link at LAObserved.
In December, after running out of patience with Time Warner over their high speed internet deceit, I ordered DSL through AT&T. I wish I could report that life’s a joy with the Bell family, but I would be lying. (Can we please just get the Rigas’s back on the job?). AT&T is up and running, but I also kept Time Warner cable (television) and held on to their internet service as a back-up, for what I foresaw as a ping pong game of future internet service problems.
So this morning….
I usually head out for coffee about 7:00 a.m. I was running a bit late today due to some east-coast phone calls on my early morning calendar. About 7:45 as I backed out of my driveway, I noticed two Time Warner service trucks on my cul-de-sac, a street in Eagle Rock of maybe 20 homes. Hmmm? My cable television was working before I left the house. What could they be up to?
Returning home an hour later the trucks had moved closer to my house, but there were no cable servicemen in sight. That soon changed with a knock on the door.
Holding their badges up for me to observe through the glass of my front door, I was greeted by two TW service techs, friendly smiles and a question. “Excuse me sir, but do you know if our cable box is on the telephone pole in your backyard?” I had been through this many times with Adelphia during my three years at this address. The pole they needed to access was technically in my neighbors back yard, but easier to reach through mine. No problem. I led them through the gate in my driveway, past my garage, to the edge of my backyard. We all gazed up at the pole.
“Yep. Much easier from here,” said the more senior of the two techs. They asked if was OK to use my backyard for access, not letting on to the reason for today’s visit. Permission granted.
Heading back inside, I went to work. Through the window I noticed at least one trip up and down my driveway, but the cable guys were out of sight and soon, out of mind. Until the knock…at my back door.
“Excuse me, sir!” A loud voice boomed into the back of the house.
I was on a phone call using a wireless headset, so I walked through my kitchen and in mid-conversation opened the back door.
“Excuse me sir." It was the more senior of the TW techs and he was clearly out to get my attention. "Our service center advises us that you are illegally receiving cable services and we have been told to terminate the connection to your house, immediately.”
My business colleague on the other end of the phone call laughed out loud.
“What the hell is going on in your house? Did you get caught stealing cable?”
I told him I was not ‘in’ the house, but was standing in my backyard, now the second circle of Time Warner hell. We decided it best to end the call so I could attempt to put out the fire.
I asked the Time Warner serviceman to tell me again what was going on.
“Well sir we’ve been advised on our radio that your house does not have an account with Time Warner and that we are to immediately shut
off this connection.”
My mind started to spin. Was I being filmed as part of an Ashton Kutcher Punk’d prank? Or was someone at Time Warner getting back at me
for my last go in LA Observed?
My trance was broken by his loud, slightly frantic voice.
“Sir, sir, we have to terminate this line in 60 seconds unless you can produce a statement from Time Warner or a cancelled check proving that you are a customer.”
No time to feel sorry for myself. And no time to wonder what happened to my 4 years of paying Adelphia and 3 months of paying Time Warner? The clock was ticking.
I shouted to Mr. TW to follow me into my house. We were going to make that deadline, or my name isn’t Jack Bauer….(or Steve Grace). I
sprinted to my office and opened a desk drawer where I keep receipts, bills etc., and where, once-a-month, I attempt to make order of
incoming mail. Mr. TW was now at my side, walkie talkie in hand.
I rifled through the names.. all alphabetically filed. AMEX, Credit Reports, GMAC, Kaiser, Mazda, Peets Coffee (a gift card?).. and then…
There, in a neatly marked file that Mr. TW could clearly read, was the object of our one-minute search - TIME WARNER CABLE. I placed the file on desk and opened it - inside my December bill with a hand written notation: PAID. 12/26.
He spun on his heels, raced out my back door, clicked open his walkie- talkie transmitter and shouted: “DON’T DISCONNECT. REPEAT. DO NOT DISCONNECT.”
“Roger that. Line tagged and connected,” came the soft reply from the pole.
I looked at the serviceman standing next to me and he shrugged.
“Sorry for the inconvenience sir.”
I went back into my house, closed the door and watched as a few minutes later the two TW servicemen strolled down my driveway, out
into the street and disappeared into my neighbor’s yard.
It was only then that it hit me. Even Ashton Kutcher could not have dreamed up a stunt as crazy as what I had just experienced. Thank god
I was home this morning. I would have been the most disappointed person in town, to have missed being part of a story like this.
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