Time on the telephone

telephone-1822040_640People occasionally ask me what I do with my time, now that I’m retired. The more correct question is how did I get through the week when I was working?

I spend a lot of time on the telephone because I’m “free”. So if my daughter is getting a vaccine for school, but we don’t remember the time of the appointment, I call her doctor. The initial message says there are 24 people in the queue. It also says I’ll get to speak to a human being in “three minutes, and fifty-four minutes.” So the countdown begins every 30 seconds: 22 minutes in the line, 21, 19, 17, et al. Do I want to press 1 and have them call back? I did that with Amtrak, but I knew the wait would be over an hour. I stayed for 16 minutes, as it turned out.

The cable box from Spectrum is not working properly. Before I call, I always reboot the system. Then the auto-voice character does the same thing. When I call back, I eventually get a human. I’m told that I have a “known problem.” So I can set shows to record, they do record, but they don’t show on the menu is a “known problem”? The only solution is to switch out the box.

Overpriced Rx

I received an amazingly mangled folded-over postcard. It was regarding a “$345 million dollar epinephrine (Epipen) class action settlement with Pzifer.” To file a “consumer claim,” I did not “need to provide any documentation at this time. However, the Settlement Administrator may ask for additional proof supporting your claim.” BTW, the lawsuit is regarding the price of the Epi-Pen, not its efficacy. 

So if we could have come up with a reasonable guesstimate, I would have submitted it. But I thought it was about 25 packets, but my wife thought it was at least twice that.

I contacted my local CVS, where most, if not all of the prescriptions were filled. But they only had the records for the past two years. I needed to call 800-SHOP-CVS. After being on hold forever, I got someone who didn’t really understand my ask initially.

Eventually, I was transferred to someone who knew what I wanted. I needed the records department, and they’re on;ly open between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Eastern Time, and by then it was 4:45.

A few days later, I called earlier. Still a lengthy wait, but when I got to the records department, the person I spoke to knew I needed purchases between August 24, 2011, and November 1, 2020. She was trouble finding my daughter’s records, but we figured out that the records were under MY name as the insurance holder.

The records took less than a week to arrive by mail.

Spectrum “communications” cluster…

My calm demeanor had deteriorated

spectrumI had thought to “break away from the box” in the new decade. The sheer, and repeated, incompetence of Spectrum, part of Charter Communications, has made this mission-critical. And it started off so casually.

Thursday: I get home from the choir rehearsal. Deciding to watch JEOPARDY! before going to bed, I turn on the TV. Soon, the DVR flashes 10:41 several times and dies. OK, stuff happens.

Friday: Taking the disconnected DVR with me, I take the bus to Colonie Center. I go to the Spectrum store. Unable to discern how one gets into the queue, I ask a customer. He tells me I need to talk to the guy talking to someone in the corner. I’m seventh in the queue, and 15 minutes later, some other rep takes my old device and gives me a new one.

Interestingly, it doesn’t have the time on the front. “Do you WANT that? You can get Spectrum Mobile…?” Don’t try to upsell me. I just want to walk into the room and see the time. I was so annoyed, I went to the Christmas Tree store next door and bought a $5 analog clock.

When I get home, I think I’ve reconnected the wires correctly. Yet I get the message:

You’re in Limited Mode

“We’re sorry, your Spectrum receiver is in Limited Mode and some features may be temporarily available.” Actually, there are no features that are available.

“We’re working to resolve this issue, but please check your cables for a loose connection that could affect your service.” I think it’s my technological incompetence in play.

Friday evening: I call the help line for Spectrum. This is always a chore. The automated system wants to offer “help” even when I know it won’t solve the problem. When I finally talk to a real person, he tells me something useful. I was under the old Time Warner/Spectrum.net account. The DVR is for the newer Spectrum.com service. They gave me the wrong DVR. NOT my fault – yay! (40 minutes)

Saturday: I call the ordering department. This guy promises me a recurring monthly charge of $80 less what I’m paying for now. The package also offers a greater number of channels, what they call the Silver level. He also suggested AppleTV+ which I decided to try on our second TV. He needs a payment, though. I use my primary credit card.

(Sidebar: the charge was rejected on my Chase VISA because I don’t use it often enough. I’ll have to make some small charges with it.)

Later, I check the email confirmation. “The technician is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday” between 11 and 12. At an address in the 321 ZIP Code of Florida.

The great undo

Sunday: I call the ordering department again. I have to explain, in great detail, what has happened so far, a recurring theme. He has an email address and phone number for me. They are both incorrect. Essentially, he has to undo what the previous dude did.

This includes changing the service call from Florida to my Albany, NY address to Tuesday at 1 to 2 pm. He also notes that AppleTV+ would NOT be a good choice for me, and I get remove that. (100 minutes)

I get the email conformation, and the amount is far greater than what I had been told.

Monday: I call the billing department. The previous person had expressed admiration with my calm demeanor. By this point, however, that had deteriorated. The prices I had been quoted by the Saturday guy was for new customers only. What she could do was give me a $25 credit towards the Silver upgrade for the month, since I would not have taken it had I known the cost.

She also asked if I knew that I would be charged $50 for the installation on Tuesday. I did not. As I had asked for her supervisor, she said someone would call back in a couple hours. (40 minutes)

More than four hours on the phone later…

Tuesday: I receive a call back for the supervisor who deals with stuff when issues “escalate.” He apologized profusely, and agreed to waive the installation fee. It would not have applied if the Spectrum store had given me the right DVR box in the first place. He is also crediting the money I spent on Saturday, though it might take a few days. (25 minutes)

The technician showed up a few minutes after 2. He had gone to a house two doors down, then called me from his cell to see if I were home. He started fixing the cable, determining the box the store had given me was, in his word, “junk,” and switched it out. Then he replaced the modem so that it was four times faster. Why didn’t that happen before? Then back downstairs to finish with the cable.

After he left, I checked the channel choices. Far fewer than I had been promised. The local channels, C-SPAN a couple shopping channels, and TBS, pretty much. I went to the Spectrum website, found some instruction, rebooted the box, and suddenly I had the channels I desired.

In the next couple days, I got to see the shows on demand that I had recorded but had not watched, such as a 60 Minutes from the week prior, and the Kennedy Center Honors. Still, this was an organizational clusterf@(# at a level I do not believe I have ever experienced. My resolution in 2020 is to get a divorce from Spectrum and its alleged “communications” services.