Tuesday, February 15, 2011

TFTLM: Dishin' It Up 2.0 (Another Cautionary Tale) Part IV

After giving myself a while to cool down from my call to Dish Network Internationale, I manned up and phoned their number again. This time the American call centers were apparently awake, for I was connected to someone right away. Not only did they listen to my tale of woe, but they seemed concerned about it. They heard my final pleas for them to just send someone, ANYONE, from the actual Dish Network regional office to tell me what was really going on. Please, please, for the love of God, don't farm it out to sub-contractors again. I don't know if it was the frustration and desperation in my voice, or that they had a gander at just how long this ordeal had been going on in the notes, but they said they would help. The rep put me on hold long enough to call the local office themselves and then came back to let me know that someone would be phoning me within half an hour with news about my case.

Maybe, I thought, they would actually connect me with Dish Dude #2, the guy who'd given us the most hope about ever getting HD and local channels out of them. Did I dare hope to dream?

A half hour passed. Then three more hours passed and I’d still heard nothing from Dish. I wasn't really surprised that they hadn't called back when promised, as the national office had made promises of calls from the regional office before. I decided to call and remind them.

When I phoned Dish back, an odd thing happened. Normally, the automated voice at the beginning of the call quotes my own phone number to me and thanks me before cheerfully saying, "Oh, I see you are one of our best customers. Here. Let me connect you." This time, the auto-voice quoted to me the wrong phone number. It got the area code and the first three digits right, but said the last four were “0000.” I didn’t understand this, nor did I immediately realize the ramifications of it, for I was distracted by the soothing tones of being told I was one of their best customers.

I managed to keep my cool once a rep came on the line. But I did stress to the guy how frustrated I was at the situation, especially how irritating it was that I’d not been called back when I’d been told I would. The Dish rep seemed very skilled at dealing with end-of-their-rope customers. He had a look through the record, saw the failed visit that morning, the calls to India and the report that the local office was on the case. He said that according to what he could see, they were going to send someone out for a fourth opinion, though he wasn’t certain when exactly. He said he would send the local office another note asking them to call me ASAP. This at least seemed positive, so I hung up semi-appeased.

While I was out running errands that afternoon, the wife called me on my cell.

“Dish Network is here,” she said.

“Is it another sub-contractor?”

“No, he’s in a Dish truck,” she said. “He said he’s been trying to find our house for an hour, but couldn’t call us, cause our number’s disconnected.”


“He’s been calling the wrong number, though,” she said. And then she repeated back the correct first six digits followed by “0000.”

I was instantly seething, realizing what had happened. Someone with access to our Dish Network account had zeroed out our phone number at some point during the day. It hadn't happened before that day, because every other installation tech up to and including Dish Dude #3 that morning had had no problems in calling ahead before they arrived. So the zeroing out had happened sometime between DD#3’s departure and that afternoon. Furthermore, my suspicion was that the zeroer was likely not a resident of the United States.

Now, despite my frustration with them, I really hadn’t been that bad with the Indian reps I’d spoken with earlier. Not by ugly American standards. I’d only raised my voice a little, but had never lost my temper with them, as I’ve been known to do with actual American DirecTV reps in the past. But my frustration with the situation had certainly been evident by not only my tone but also by the fact that I flat out told them I was very frustrated with the situation. Who knows? Maybe one of them was actually listening in when I thought I was on hold and had heard me whispering to the wife about being on the phone with EFFing India again. Perhaps they might have taken offense at that and made certain assumptions as to my character. One might see how this could have been perceived as mildly racist, when it was only mildly bigoted--and that bigotry specifically directed against Indian Call Centers and not the Indian people themselves.

I drove home to find Dish Dude #4 hard at work installing the new system. He was impressive before I'd even introduced myself in that he was at least a head taller than me and I suspected his use of the ladder was only one of formality.

"And... everything's going okay?" I asked him hesitantly. He said it was. "And the dish has line of sight?" I added. He said it did. It was a clear shot right from the edge of the roof. He didn't go so far as to bad mouth Dish Dudes #1 and #3, or anything, but it seemed clear from his manner who the superior installation techs were and what sort of vehicles they drove.

While Dish Dude #4 was still installing our system, I fired up the Dish website and confirmed that both our home phone and cell phone numbers had been zeroed out. This meant no one from Dish had been able to contact us that afternoon and Dish Dude #4 really REALLY had no chance at contacting us while driving around our neighborhood, looking for our unmarked cul-de-sac and barely marked house. According to what he told us when he'd finished the install, he’d eventually had to phone his supervisor, the much sought-after Dish Dude #2, to get directions on how to find us.

Once the dish was installed, the lines run to the house connector, the interior lines hooked to the TV and the satellite link established, DD#4 fired her up and, blammo, we had amazing-looking high definition TV complete with local channels. It was a thing of beauty. I nearly wept.

We felt so grateful to him for giving us what we had thought was probably impossible. We asked him if there was anyone we could call to let them know he did such a great job--a Dish Dude Attaboy Hotline, if you will. He just shrugged and humbly said, no. He was just doing his job. Then he walked into the sunset, his tools at his side, his tall form casting a long shadow behind him, safe in his role as one of Dish Network's Technician All Stars. Okay, that last sentence was bullshit, cause the house was blocking the sunset. But he did leave and we did think of him as a mighty servant of goodness and justice and high definition television.

Now, after a couple months of using the new Dish Network system, I can say it may be the single-most impressive piece of television technology I've ever owned. Whereas our old system, impressive though it was, allowed us 100 hours of recording time in its DVR, the new system has around 345 hours available--and thems HD hours! And we now have local channels! Which, after nine years without them, I still haven't gotten into a habit of watching much, but we have them. Including PBS! Now I can also not watch Masterpiece Theater and lots of educational programming that I've been failing to see. And the marriage between the Dish system and the new HD TV is a lasting and beautiful thing. If I gave a crap about sports, it would be the perfect vehicle to view them. And if I had a video game system it would...

...ohhhhhh, but that's a story for another time.

Reality Break: since starting this story, the middle east has done blowed up with protest and turmoil (at least more than usual). Don't know yet how it's all going to shake out, but we certainly live in strange and interesting times.

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