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And a profusion of pestilence besides!

| I have had Time Warner Cable ever since I moved to Palm Springs in 2002. Over the years what started as a reasonable monthly rate escalated and escalated until it became completely unreasonable.

At one time I subscribed to their "triple play" — cable TV, internet, and phone for, as I recall, $30 each, or $90 per month. As prices rose I cut back to just extended cable and standard internet. But the cost of just those two services eventually climbed to $131.52 per month currently.

Now, if I were a heavy TV watcher, and if my plan offered a plethora of high-quality programming, I might find that acceptable. The fact is, however, that whenever I scroll through the hundreds of channels most are (a) shopping, (b) religious, (c) Spanish-language, not that there's anything wrong with that, or (d) brings up a notice, "To view this channel, call Customer Service" to pay an additional fee. Infuriatingly, channels that friends get with lower bills are not included in my plan! Bottom line, you can count on one hand the number of different channels that I ever actually watch for a total of no more than 10 hrs per week.

The straw that broke the proverbial camel's back was the announcement that TWC would now start "leasing" our cable modems to us for another $4/month. I've had that modem for over two years now, and 27 months X $4 is $108. I don't know how much TWC pays for those modems, bought by the truckload, but the exact same modem is available from Amazon.com for $46.32. My modem has been paid for at least fourfold.

1 Dump cable TV

DirecTV has been running a promotion for $29 per month if you sign up for two years. So I did. They also have a sweet bit of technology whereby you can watch what is on your DVR on any TV in the house by connecting a little box to the line that talks to the main DVR.

It was with great pleasure that I walked into the Time Warner office and dumped my Time Warner cable box on the counter.

2 Dump the TWC modem

The TWC website says you can buy your own modem, thereby eliminating the modem fee.

buy-modem

So, I marched off to Best Buy and bought a cable modem on the list of modems compatible with the TWC system. I've been developing a website for a tour company and couldn't be without my internet, so I waited until tonight to install the new modem.

Theoretically, this should be a pretty simple process: plug it in, then call TWC to give them the MAC address of the new modem.

I placed a call to Customer Support. And was immediately put on hold.

We're very sorry you're still on hold. We appreciate your patience and look forward to being of service to you.

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Trust me, after you've been on hold for 54 minutes, hearing that refrain every minute gets rather annoying.

Eventually I got a real person who took the new MAC address and put it in the system, but there was no joy. After several attempts to activate the new address, he left to consult with someone. The call dropped from being on hold for that person to being once again in the incoming queue of calls. While that was going on I looked again at the modem and this time got out my magnifying glass. Holy s**t! I had mis-read one of the digits! But try to get back to that person to correct it. About as easy as getting a Republican to cooperate with a Democrat.

Eventually, take two, I got another live person who took note of the problem and said he'd fix it. He went away to do so, and my call once again dropped back into the incoming queue. This time the mantra was different.

Thank you for holding. An attendant will be with you shortly.

This time, two different voices repeated the mantra, stepping on each other to make sure I knew that an attendant would be with me shortly.

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A third person answered, who received the full force of Hurricane Paul. While I was haranguing the poor girl, I was clicking away at my keyboard and discovered that I once again had an internet connection because I could ping sites. Bye, bye!

My glee was short-lived. As soon as I opened my browser, every URL that I tried to go to was hijacked by a Time Warner "provisioning" page that told me I had to call Customer Support to give them my new MAC address. Jesus f*ing Christ. That page gave me a local number to call, so I called it. Of course I didn't get anybody locally, and of course although he answered the Customer Support line he told me I would have to talk to ... Customer Support! Can't you do it? If you transfer me to Customer Support I'm going to sit on hold for another half hour at least waiting for someone to answer! Alas, no, he said.

Eventually someone answered, and the voice sounded familiar; I think it was one of the voices that had earlier passed over the line. Maybe he, too, recognized my voice, because he was quite cooperative and repaired the MAC address in the system and "provisioned" my modem. It now works.

Phone time

What should have taken, oh, 15 minutes ended up consuming my entire evening. Not a happy camper!

Call Start time Duration (H:M:S)
Call 1 8:06pm 54:10
Call 2 9:40pm 3:19
Call 3 9:51pm 37:15
Call 4 9:04pm 31:59
Total time 2:06:43

For the time being, I have kept my Time Warner internet. It is the least expensive of the available options. Verizon FiOS is available at my address, and the standard internet service is better than Time Warner's, but it is more expensive. Satellite internet is also available, but to get the kind of speeds I want, it gets very expensive.

There is a company that is setting up 4G wireless services throughout the Coachella Valley, but they haven't gotten to Desert Hot Springs with their towers yet. But when they do...

Last updated on May 19, 2016

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