Thursday, April 8, 2010

404 Error: The Hell of the Cable TV

Last night, I was trying to get caught up on some paperwork very late, and I suddenly remembered something that happened last weekend.  It was Sunday afternoon and I had just raced back from my weekly shuffleboard match to catch the Tour of Flanders on the Versus Channel (Ch.# 404 if you get your cable through Mediacom here in COMO like I do).  Only when I turned on my TV and switched to 404 - there was nothing.  Actually there was something - and that something was a blank screen telling me that I was not subscribing to the Versus Channel.  To which I replied:
 I've been watching cycling on Versus on my Mediacom package for over a year now. Ok, I thought, this must just be a fluke.  No big deal.  It will come back on.  Over the years, I've become an expert in denial, and somehow still thought that by doing nothing, Versus would magically start working again, just like that creak in my bottom bracket will likely cure itself as long as I just keep simultaneously riding and ignoring it.  Well I tried the channel again last night and still nothing.  Now, some of you might be wondering why I would care if I don't get the Versus Channel.  Well because this Sunday, at 6 PM ET, they are showing this race.

So I decided to call Mediacom customer support.  It took me 25 minutes just to find a phone number on their website.  You see, if you post a phone number on your website under the heading called "Customer Support" there is a good chance people will call it.  And that would require paying people to answer phones who are knowledgeable about answering the customer's questions.  How inconvenient.....

At any rate, after two phone trees, I reached a young woman (I'm assuming she was young - but honestly - she could have been 87 for all I know) named Latoya.  When I asked Latoya about the sudden disappearance of my Versus Channel and furthermore if I could please have it back, she said I was never supposed to have it in the first place - and the fact that I got to watch all that cycling on it for over a year was a mistake on their part.  If I want Versus now, I have to upgrade my plan for an extra $10/month.  To which I reply, "Mediacom - you can suck my niggles."
One of the best parts about the Mediacom website is their use of stock photo imagery to convince we, the subscribers, that the Mediacom staff is actually very helfpul and fair and wants to provide us with the best service possible.

There are two basic types of people in the world.  There are those that would look at that free year and a half of cycling-viewing onVersus as a lucky gift, great while it lasted.  These people are called "glass half-full people."  Then there are the people who are pissed because they are now being asked to pay for something that they used to get for free.  Those people are the "glass half-empty" people.  There is a third type of person in the world who is not altogether mentally stable and would interpret the entire episode as a conspiracy by Mediacom to lure us into watching Versus by providing free access, only to jerk the rug out from under our feet for the sheer pleasure of messing with us.   I am one of these people and we call ourselves "the glass is f***ing rigged and will leak water all over you as soon as you try to drink from it giving you nothing but a wet crotch!!" people.

The dilemma of how to watch Paris-Roubaix this Sunday should I choose to not pay the $10 is actually pretty easily solved.  I can flip on a foreign webcast via early in the morning and watch it stream live with Belgian commentary I won't understand except for the odd words like "Boonen", "Devolder" and "Heilige shit, opnieuw verloren Hincapie! which can be roughly translated into "Holy shit - Hincapie lost again!"  It's not the $10 that Mediacom wants that frustrates me.....honestly - I will probably shuck it over in a couple months before the Tour de France starts anyway.....It's the self-induced indignity of how I've let them make me hunt for a phone number in the middle of the night, wait in line to speak to a representative who I then have to ask to give money to so I can have my free shit back.  But what else can I do - it's the Hell of the North!  It's the race that made Greg Lemond look like he was doing an Al Jolson impersonation in 1985.
So take your blood money, Mediacom.  I hope you can sleep tonight.


  1. Yep, sucks. A lot of computer software seems to operate like that. You buy it and it initially runs great and then the "trial" element of the software stops until you pay to reactivate it. Or it won't run fully until you pay MORE money. Or if you have a tech issue you may have to pay to get support. It's a little trick to make you think you are getting alot on the initial purchase. Sneaky buggers! -Henderson


  3. If you guys are looking for a service provider which offers great customer service, a good product and the ability to circumvent the "streaming" nightmare, take a look at DISH network. Fully capable of showing the Versus channel, among many others, DISH offers a much more comprehensive solution to this problem. Primarily, DISH was voted #1 in Customer Satisfaction by ACSI in 2010. Furthermore, DISH offers incredible deals, and the lowest all-digital prices in the industry. Things like GoogleTV, TV Everywhere and HD Free for Life serve to sweeten the deal!! I work for (and subscribe to) DISH and love the service!! Take a look at to see how you can make the change!

  4. One of the best parts about the Mediacom website is their use of stock photo imagery to convince we, the subscribers, that the Mediacom staff is actually very helfpul and fair and wants to provide us with the best service possible.