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Barbara Lombardo of Saratoga Springs, NY, is a journalism adjunct at University at Albany and retired executive editor of The Saratogian, The Record and the Community News. Follow her on Twitter @Barb_Lombardo.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Waiting for the Cable Guy

You can vouch for me: I am home, but I am working, not goofing off. I am writing this column as I wait, not very patiently, for the cable guy.
It’s admittedly comfortable here, stretched out on the couch with my laptop, serenaded by Wilco and the Editors. But, darn it, the Time Warner telemarketer told me the guy (is it always a guy?) would be here between 12:30 and 2:30 p.m.
I rushed home and arrived only five minutes late, which for me is early. What if the guy came on time and left?
It is 12:40 p.m. I call to check and I am told that they have me down for anytime between noon and 4:30, and that the guy’s running behind. Can’t they call to tell me approximately when he might arrive? Sorry, m’am. We can’t do that.
Argghh! Patience, Barb, patience.
3 p.m. So far, I wrote a little story for Wednesday’s paper from my laptop, sent my dad an e-mail hello, wrapped up three boxes of Fruit Rollups to send to my college freshmen, picked my clothes off the bedroom floor and put a 3-pound ham in a pan for dinner.
4 p.m. Hold on while I call customer service, again. Ah, from the Glens Falls office, Sonja says she will call the technician (that is, the cable guy) and ask him to call me with an estimated time of arrival. OK.
It was only a week ago that I finally signed up for phone service offered by Time Warner, which already provides our Internet connection and cable TV. Bundle me, baby! Three-in-one! I felt guilty bidding adieu to Verizon and AT&T, figuring every cancellation translates into an eventual loss of jobs somewhere. Besides, there was absolutely nothing wrong with my local and long-distance service. In fact, I like the security of knowing my phone will work even when the electricity is out. But I like even more the possibility of saving twenty bucks a month on phone service. Nothing personal, Ma Bell.
It’s 4:26, and no word from a technician. Let’s see who answers the phone this time. When I get through at 4:30, the winner is Fred, who is also in Glens Falls. He has seen neither hide nor hair of Sonja, who he said works on a different floor and in any case is done at 4:30 and by now would be down the back stairs and out the door. He puts me on hold while he looks into the situation.
4:45. Fred is back, super polite and with the promise that someone will be here today, really. Really? Please connect me to a customer service rep. I imagine a room of people. Fred covers his headset mike and looks around. Who wants to talk to this crazy lady?

4:55. Ben, a tech support customer service supervisor based in Rotterdam, takes the call. Like Fred, he was super efficient and polite, the kind of guy you feel bad being mad at. He doesn't know why I was repeatedly told that a tech couldn’t call me or why a telemarketer told me I could be assigned a two-hour window. But he discovered that the tech was having a heckova time on a call in Ballston Spa and, good news, I’m next. For my trouble, Time Warner would waive the $19.99 fee for keeping my phone number, plus credit my account $20 for waiting so long and impatiently. Woweewow. I’ll take it.
5:02. Fred, bless his soul, calls to make sure I got the message that I was getting from Ben, who was still on the other line listening to me vent.
5:06. Put the ham in the oven. Look out the window. Tick, tick, tick.
Here comes a white truck. Could it be? Yes! And here is Jared, apologizing for not calling while he was on hold with his own tech people for more than an hour trying to get a modem to work in Ballston Spa.
5:48. Husband pulls into the driveway with a non-traditional greeting: What are you doing home? This is way early for me. Cable guy’s here, I explain. For the phone.
6:14. Phone works, Internet is back on, Jared is done for the day, and I can make unlimited calls to places where no one I know lives. And if I remember to cancel AT&T, I’ll actually start saving money. Don’t bother calling to remind me. Now I have caller I.D.


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