Thoughts by Richard Bleil
A few minutes ago, I tried contacting my cable service. It’s the only company in the neighborhood of which I am aware that is not a satellite service. See, I’ve had both, and I’ve discovered that satellite gets knocked out when you need it the most, such as during a tornado as we’ve had just a few nights ago. Cable seems much better and faster because it doesn’t lose the signal when there’s a strong wind. That means the company here has no competitors, at least none in which I am interested. “We’re faster.” No, you’re not. “We’re 99% reliable!” No, you’re not, but even if that were the case, that means that you are out a collective three and a half days a year, and since those days probably won’t be in day blocks, those hours will be spread out over the year and at times I’m trying to get information.
Anyway, what I have now is basic internet. No phone (although they really pushed hard to sell me a landline), no cable (I stream movies through services over the internet), no premium channels, nothing. But this year I had a sort of wake-up call. See, I don’t care about sports. I don’t watch, nor do I particularly want to unless the Bengals are in the Super Bowl, but what are the chances, right? Right.
So this year, for the first time since 1989, they were in the Super Bowl. It’s only the third time they’ve made an appearance (which is three times more often than the Cleveland Browns), and again, they choked. Just like both appearances in the ‘80’s. Still, it would have been nice to see it live, which I couldn’t without cable and access to network television. It’s the first Bengals Super Bowl loss that I didn’t watch.
Anyway, I thought I should check out the packages my service provides, and the necessary equipment (if there are any). Twice I logged into the provider’s website. The first time, I just looked at the services they had. I had very specific questions, such as how much additional cost it would incur, if hardware is required or if I could just plug directly into my smart television (or my current devices), and what channels are specifically included. Since most packages are geared towards sports, I wanted to look for something with sciences, arts, information channels, classic movies and so forth. Of course, you can’t say “I don’t want sports” on their website, so I gave up.
Today I tried again. This time, though, I tried their chat engine. The problem with these AI chat engines are that they only have specific pre-programmed responses, and are not significantly more informative than just looking on the website if you know how to do effective searches. But you never know. So, I ask about television packages, and just like the website, there are no specifics provided. “This bundle comes with this many channels, such as…” Okay, such as is fine. I want to see the entire list and compare that list with the next bundle level up from there, and the cost comparison. Good luck getting an AI to do all of that. So, I ask to speak with a live representative.
Yes, the AI put me in touch, via chat, with a representative. But I don’t want to “chat”. This would be a lot of typing and explaining to do on a keyboard (maybe I’ll send them this blog post), so I ask if I can speak with someone in person. And…no. I can’t. They don’t do that anymore.
As an educator, I understood that there are different kinds of learners. Some are better at visual learning, and some are auditory learners by nature. It would help me to hear these options, so I can ask and get answers much faster than either of us can type. If I’m standing in my gun club, there are not pictures of their offers with blurbs about the advantages and disadvantages of each. I’m actually speaking with a knowledgeable representative who can listen, answer and talk with me.
Cable companies seem to have forgotten that they provide a comfort service. I can get inclement weather information online, either through my cable Wi-Fi, or, frankly, my phone service. I don’t even need my cable company for that. Yes, maybe I’ll miss the one football game I’ll want to watch every thirty years, but I think I’ll survive without it. So, to hell with it. I still don’t need the local stations.