Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Great Satellite-Cable Debate

And so it goes.   Indeed, the battle continues.  Of course, there are many Americans who have given up either their satellite or cable hookups to save money.   They're doing things for a lot less a month by using Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and digital antennas that can be picked up for twenty bucks at CVS.

As for me, I'm not there yet.   There is still way too much specialty programming and sports for me through the big providers.   But, as I said, the battle rages on.

In my own apartment.

A little history is needed to put this war into perspective.  Truth be told, I have been a long time Direct TV customer.  Since 2002 they would tell me whenever I had reason to call customer service.  And my calls were always answered promptly by somebody in the south or the midwest of this country and not India.  Indeed, Direct TV followed me through two different apartments and I held onto it despite the fact that, for the past two baseball seasons, I couldn't get the Dodgers broadcasts from TWC.  (Um, actually I did and there are ways around those blackouts.   If you're one of those Yankee fans currently shut out of the Yes Network, call me.   I literally can get you hooked up.)

So, when I elected to move from one apartment to another in the same building this past March, I fully intended to keep the same connections I had in the past. Direct for TV and, ironically, Time Warner Cable for their broadband wifi because it is...well...the best.  As a matter of fact, on my actual moving day, I engaged both companies to do their hookups in the new place at the same time. Both Direct TV and TWC in the same room simultaneously.  Hell, this is something the Los Angeles Dodgers haven't managed to do.

TWC, with their now very prompt on-time service, got here first.  Over the years, it has been well known that their customer service has sucked.   But, not now.  They are much more attentive.  As their tech guy worked on installing the new broad band, Direct TV arrived.   No pun intended, I directed them to where my dish was on the roof of the front of this building and I knew that there was no way they would be able to use that to the new pad in the back of the building. I figured that the dish, at the very least, would be moved.

But I was troubled by the Direct TV guy who was here.   English was, at best, his third language.  And he didn't seem to be that seasoned.   Too young and with a language deficiency, he was less a tech guy and more a Bernie Sanders supporter.  I had also noticed that this was the type of folks I was connecting with over the phone with Direct TV of late.   Clearly, one call was to India.  I could hear the monsoon in the background.  And the on-hold time was now at least 30 minutes to speak to a live body that may or may not have been in America.   If you poke around the internet, you will read similar stories and most attributed to Direct TV's diminishing customer service as a direct product of their merger with ATT, which is renowned for being super lousy.

In my living room, the Direct TV actually had to consult with the TWC guy on what he was doing.  What the what??  Within 15 minutes, the Direct dude, in some fashion of English, Spanish and Swahili, announced that he could not connect me.  After 14 years, I would no longer be a "valued" Direct TV customer.   Since he was on the premises, I told the TWC techie to proceed and give me more than just the broadband connection.  I had no choice.  And he probably did a silent happy dance while alone in my bathroom.

As a result, I am now a perfect person to give you the pluses and minuses of both services as they are all fresh in my mind.

First off, Direct TV and TWC have seemingly flip flopped when it comes to customer service.   TWC has been extremely accommodating with my questions.   Direct TV, in my subsequent conversations on getting a more seasoned tech here to see if a reconnection is possible, has become virtually impossible to reach without at least an hour of hold on the phone.

What about the actual product?  Well, it is fun to have the Dodger channel especially this year when they are likely going to do a lot of vintage Vin Scully stuff.  But, I miss the access to places like the Yes Network and SNY in New York.   Sure, I can get the Yankee and Met games with my MLB package but, inexplicably, I miss the pre and post game shows that I could get with Direct TV.

When you get all the alleged movie channels, you will notice one major difference between Direct and TWC.   On the former, all the appropriate HBO, Showtime, and the like movie channels are broadcast in crisp HD.  Not so on TWC where the only HD offered on the latter is for their primary channels.   If you're looking to watch a HD movie on HBO Family, you are shit out of luck.

Okay, here's a stupid little quibble from me on TWC.   My favorite channel, Turner Classic Movies, has a wonderful app that I have kept on my tablet and my phone.  To access it, you have to put in your television provider info.   No problem when I had Direct.  Er, major issue when you have TWC who does not participate.   I can probably get around this by using my New York Cablevision tie-in but, for now, I miss this app.

At the same time, there is some fun available on TWC and not Direct TV.   Well, fun for me at least.   There are a host of those digital retro channels on TWC that Direct TV doesn't bother with.  Antenna TV, for instance where my hormones take a stroll down memory lane with episodes of a young Valerie Bertinelli on "One Day at a Time."   Plus nightly uncut airings of the Johnny Carson Tonight Show from the 70s and 80s.   Also, there is Buzzr which broadcasts old and beloved game shows with Match Game reruns that remind me how damn funny Charles Nelson Reilly was.  And Get TV which shows you television history from the 60s with vintage black-and-white reruns of the Merv Griffin Show.   Now, my good friend and electronic guru Leo tells me I could still get these channels via Direct TV via an indoor antenna and an A/B switch.   But, still.  I have found myself gravitating to these channels more often than not.   

So, you might say that TWC has grown on me.   But there are still some charms of Direct TV that I miss.  Plus you have the added complication of billing.   You can cut TWC anytime.   With Direct, I would be back on a "must keep for 24 months" dictum that is laughable given I originally was a customer for the last 14 years.

I am going to try and give Direct TV one more try.   I have asked them to send me a very experienced tech guy...translation: one who speaks fluent see if the other idiot's determination was accurate.   And I guess I will continue to live a full life either way.   This will all come to some fruition next Tuesday.

Stay they say on your favorite TV provider.

Dinner last night:  Had a big lunch so just a sandwich and a small salad.

No comments: