Monday, January 23, 2017


From bad...
Some months back, New York TV stations were suddenly inundated with commercials advising us that our cable service, Time-Warner, would soon become something called Spectrum. We were assured that this wasn't just a name change, but an honest-to-gosh upgrade in home entertainment.

Usually in this kind of change, the only thing that's upgraded is the price. But the friendly Spectrum spokesman assured us that we would see tremendous improvement in our television, internet, and telephone service. Excuse me, I mean voice service, the word "telephone" apparently sounding a little 19th-century for their taste.

I'm not sure what they meant by improvement. Our hi def was still hi; the internet still provided us (well, me) all the information I needed on old B-movies; and the phone -- voice -- still provided an outlet for scammers to call us at all hours of the day. What more was there to do?

... to worse.
Well, for one thing, Spectrum could fix those audio drop-outs that happened under the Time-Warner regime. And maybe they could provide us with a la carte TV choices, rather than forcing us to have entire channels in languages that I've never even heard of, let alone pronounce, just so we can watch TCM (for me) and HGTV (for the missus). And while we're on the subject, I have no interest in ESPN, MTV, or anything else that usually airs in bars or dorm rooms. Give us two dozen channels that we like, and we'll be customers for life. 

We woke up one day to find that Spectrum had finally taken over, much like the way Paris did when the Nazis invaded. The first change I noticed was that the cable app on my tablet was now a little sleeker. It also now had a habit of telling me that it was unable to program a DVR recording after it actually did. Such modesty!

As for the audio -- well, there was no change there. I still keep the remote handy to pause the live digital broadcast for a second or two, then resume it to bring the sound back. 

But here's the real "upgrade". Between 6:45 and 7:00 in the evening, it takes at least 15 seconds the change the channel with the remote. 

Hey, slow down, buddy! Can't you
see it's 7:00?
You can set your watch by it. You're on channel 44. Press 14... and go into the kitchen, pop open a beer, throw out the bottle cap, take a swig, wipe your mouth with the back of your hand. Walk back into the living room, and the channel will change just as you sit down.

Where was it mentioned in those commercials that Spectrum was going to perform an anti-upgrade at that time, night after night? Is it possible that every Spectrum customer in New York is flipping the channel simultaneously, thus gumming up the works? 

Online customer reviews for Spectrum (and Time-Warner) are almost entirely negative. But as I've scrolled through them, I haven't found anyone else complaining about the mystery of the 7:00 channel change. We must be taking one for the team, I guess, just so we can have our fill of film noirs, home-fixit programs, and the morning weather report. 

I'd like to continue talking to you, but there's a call coming over the voice service telling me I owe $3,000 to the IRS. Anybody know how to put that kind of dough on a debit card like they're telling me to do?


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