Thursday, November 21, 2013

Indirect TV

My thoughts are a little incoherent today.  I'm blaming it on DirecTV.

I am a little bit anti-television.  I don't think I'm stridently anti-television (though other members of my family may disagree) but I'm pretty sure that, with the exception of events like the Olympic Games and Kentucky Rolex, I could live without it just fine.  (For the record, I vastly preferred the British version of the Olympics on BBC--all actual sports events, all the time, nary a commercial or special in-depth feature at all.)  At home we currently have 3 televisions--in the family room, in the basement workout room, and in my bedroom.  We put one in our bedroom because my husband wanted one there when we built the house, but the truth is, the only time we ever watch it is at 6 am on snowy mornings, when we're trying to find out if the children have a snow delay.   The television in the basement can only be used for watching DVDs, because we don't have a DirecTV receiver down there.  Since my husband would like to watch sports while he exercises, and since I don't care either way at all, we're getting the DirecTV receiver moved from our bedroom to our basement.  Also, since he'd like to chose which sports he watches, and when, we're getting a DVR so that he can record games to view at leisure.

I have no problem, none at all, with any of this.  What irritated me beyond reason, however, was calling DirecTV.

Step one: speak to an automated voice.  What do I want?  "I want to order a DVR," I say.

"You want to order the movie, 'The Man,'" the automated voice replies.

"NO," I say.  "NO.  NO."

"This will become available to you starting on Thursday, November 22nd--"


"At 10 am, and will cost nine dollars--"


"And ninety-nine cents.  Is this correct?"


"You do not want to order the movie, 'The Man'?"


"Please tell us what you want."


"You want to order the movie, 'Dead on Arrival."  This will be available--"

"NO! NO!"  Finally I scream, "REPRESENTATIVE!"

The automated voice sighs.  It's not clear if she thinks I'm being unreasonable, or she's just relieved to finally be getting some sense out of me.  "One moment, please."

Then I get a human.  Alas, not a rational one.  Or perhaps in her regular life she's perfectly rational, but in DirecTVland her script forces her into irrationality.

I explain what I want.  It's no problem, no problem at all.  Only first, while they have me on the line, they want to look over my service and explain some exciting new options.

I do not want options, no matter how exciting.  I want to get off the phone.

So many movies available, all these movie channels that we're not getting--

--we don't really watch movies, I explain.  Really, we don't.  We watch sports, and at the same time I knit or read.  We have NFL Sunday ticket so we can watch every football game played in America.  We don't have time for movies.

But there are some really good movies coming up.  Also a new channel that will show old Christmas movies 24/7.  Winter Wonderland and It's A Wonderful Life, 'round the clock.

Seen 'em both, I say.  Don't need to see them again.

But right now I could get a movie channel for free.  Completely free for the next 3 months.

Yes, I say, and then it would cost me a bundle, and I'd forget to cancel it.  Also, I think but don't say, when I tried to cancel I'd get stuck in another phone call like this one.  I say, no thank you.

But no risk--

I really don't watch movies.

Finally, we move on to what I do want.  My options are explained to me.  They're actually pretty straightforward.  We already have Hi-Def service even though we don't have Hi-Def TVs ("You don't have flat-screens?" the woman asks in disbelief.  Um, no.) because our local channels only work in Hi-Def (I didn't know this, but I don't care) and that's GOOD because the new DVR thingie only works in Hi-Def.

In other words, I can buy what I'm hoping to buy.  Excellent.  I'm not sure why we're spending so much time discussing it.

It will cost blah blah blah blah.  And they have to send one guy out to move the receiver and another to install the DVR, and that's all free, only there's a new monthly charge, and I'm expected to keep my DVR and pay the monthly charge for 2 years.

I think I'll be able to cope with that.  After all, I've kept the two televisions for ten.

We set a date in which I'll be imprisoned by DirecTV for 8 hours, as one technician will arrive between 8 and noon and the other between noon and 4.  They will give me a courtesy call one half hour before they arrive, which is guaranteed to take place the moment I step into the shower.  Also, do I have dogs?

I do.  I will put them in their crates.

The woman writes this down, muttering, "will put them in crates."

At last I think we're finished.  But no.  As part of their commitment to service excellence, they put me through to a second human.  I am required to verbally confirm every single aspect of everything I just arranged with the first human.  Do I want my receiver moved?  Yes, yes I do.  Do I want the DVR?  Why yes.  Do I understand the charges, which are as this point I 'm pretty sure she could say, "One million dollars," and I'd agree.

The moment after I hang up my husband calls.  He's just finished his morning's surgery, restoring sight to half a dozen grateful people before lunch.  "Big deal," I say, "I just talked to DirecTV."