A Cinecle View – Melancholy and the Xfinite Sadness, Episode 2: Groundhog Day

Tony Marion

Tony Marion

A period of peace followed the Phone War. For three years we had no interaction with Comcast.

After a year of cohabitation, Danielle and I got engaged, married a year later and bought a house and our first HDTV for our new “movie room” a year after.

Everything was fine until Comcast made the move to completely digital service, requiring us to rent new boxes to be able to use our SD TVs.

Through a fortunate set of circumstances, we got an incredible deal (less than $100 out of pocket) on a brand new 40” Samsung HDTV. We decided that, with Comcast’s digital switch imminent, it would make more sense to get a 2nd HD box for the living room and put our digital SD converters in our bedroom and guest room.

I called Comcast as Danielle insisted that I handle cable-related matters, and was greeted by a computer requesting my phone number. I recited Danielle’s digits as she had set up the service, and the computer asked me to hold until a representative was available.

“Thank you for calling Comcast, may I have the 10 digit phone number for the account that you’re calling about?” a pleasant female voice asked.

“I’m sorry, but, I already entered it through the phone … why do you need it again?”

“Because the computer doesn’t transfer that information to our screens.”

I sighed and repeated the number.

“(ADDRESS REDACTED)?”

“Yes.”

“Is this Danielle?”

Now, I don’t have a voice as deep as James Earl Jones or even Kathleen Turner, and, admittedly, I’ve been called “ma’am” over a fast food drive-through intercom before, but there is no way that she didn’t know that I was a man.

“No, this Tony, Danielle’s husband.”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Marion, but we aren’t authorized to speak with you about this account.”

There was tightness in my chest; not the numb-left-arm-heavy-weight-on-your-man-boobs tightness of a coronary event, but the weightless-jittery-over-caffeinated tightness that during a face to face encounter usually heralds the throwing of a punch.

“Then we have a problem, because she doesn’t know shit about your digital transition and doesn’t care to learn, so she asked me to handle it.”

“Is Danielle there with you? Because if she gives us authorization to talk to you, we can add you as an account contact and you can make changes to your service going forward.”

Sigh.

“Yeah… ”

I explained the situation to my wife, who replied with her signature “really?” before taking the phone and giving me power of attorney over our Comcast account.

We eventually received our digital converters and HD box and everything was fine … until repeated internet service interruptions and frozen TV shows lead me to call Comcast about a year later.

I entered her phone number when prompted and waited patiently for a human.

“Thank you for calling Comcast, may I have the 10 digit phone number for the account?”

“Seriously, you haven’t fixed that yet?”

“Excuse me?”

“Nothing. (PHONE NUMBER REDACTED)”

“Thank you … I am speaking with Danielle?”

Tightness.

“No, this is Tony.”

“I’m sorry, but we can only talk to the account holder of record.”

I could feel my pulse in my temples.

“Are you kidding me? The last time that I called I was told the same thing, so I put my wife on the phone, she told your CSR to add me to the account, and we were assured that we would never have to jump through this particular hoop again …”

“I’m sorry, sir, but …”

“Is there no warning in your software to save changes before exiting, or this just the level of service that I can expect forever?”

“I understand your frustration …”

“NO, because if you did it would mean that your company did, too, and we wouldn’t be having this fucking idiotic conversation. Hold for my wife.”

We repeated the same process as before, our service was fixed, and all was well …

… until a few months later when we noticed that we didn’t have all of the same channels on both of our HD boxes.

I entered her phone number and waited.

“Thank you for calling Comcast, may I have the 10 digit phone number for the account?”

“I know that you can’t do anything about this, but it is incredibly aggravating to have to give you the phone number when I’ve already entered it in the system.”

“I apologize for that, sir …”

“(PHONE NUMBER REDACTED)”

“Thank you … to whom am I speaking?”

“Tony Marion.”

“I’m sorry, sir, but we can only discuss this account with the account holder.”

I never felt the change.

“ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? THIS IS THE THIRD TIME THAT I WILL BE PUTTING MY WIFE ON THE PHONE TO ADD ME AS AN ACCOUNT CONTACT; THE THIRD FUCKING TIME …”

“Sir, I need you to calm …”

“EVERYONE THAT I HAVE DEALT WITH AT YOUR COMPANY IN THE LAST THREE YEARS HAVE BEEN SO COMPLETELY INCOMPETENT THAT THEY ARE INCAPABLE OF SAVING INFORMATION TO AN ACCOUNT, I WILL NOT CALM THE FUCK DOWN. GET A SUPERVISOR ON THE LINE, NOW, OR MY NEXT CALL IS TO DISH NETWORK.”

As with the debacle at Jeremy’s house, the supervisor assured me that the addition of my name was permanent, and the channel disparity between our HD boxes was resolved … by removing channels from our older box.

For nearly two years I ignored numerous little problems, unwilling to call Comcast for fear that I would be forced to relive the same draining scenario like some perverted Groundhog Day for which I was being overcharged, leading to that other kind of tightness in my chest, or a CSR hate crime.

That is, until we lost some channels that we often watched while simultaneously seeing a rise in our service and SD converter fees …

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Tony Marion is a writer and filmmaker who splits time between Lancaster, PA and Baltimore, MD. He lives for the work of Descendents (the band), Chuck Palahniuk and Rian Johnson. Check out the digital embodiment of procrastination he calls his website here.

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