Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Adeus, NET, Adeus

A guy on a motorcycle just picked up my cable box, thus ending the most tortured relationship I've ever had with a corporation in my entire life. I figure they must have had a big red flag on my account for any time I called in to customer support: "Warning: may flip out on phone."

I don't think I will get into why I used to flip out on the phone with them, but then again, these blog entries often take me places I don't intend... so I apologize beforehand if I get led down a dark alley in my brain.

The company in question was my cable TV provider, NET. They started out as a godsend, because I discovered after I moved in that I couldn't get DSL in my neighborhood and I desperately needed a broadband connection. I discovered NET could provide one, and along with a speedy, and costly, internet connection I signed up for their 'Master' TV plan which offered such goodies as BBC World, AXN, Cartoon Network, and... Fox News. Amongst others.

At first it was great. It was the fastest internet connection I had ever had, and suddenly we had English language TV too. Ruan, my stepson, quickly became addicted to the Cartoon Network and we basically let him live in front of the TV. I'm sure that if I'd had access to a channel like that at his age I wouldn't have left the television alone for five minutes either. In retrospect I believe this was a mistake, but we were in a new house and Evani was just about to have a baby so I had other things on my mind.

The TV thing was so good that we installed a second cable box so we could watch both in the living room and in the bedroom. When I restored our house, I rigged the entire place with electric sockets with cable connectors right next to them in every room. I was looking forward to the future, a future that has not arrived and I don't plan to let it. Despite the capacity for six televisions in the house, we only have two. I considered installing a TV in the dining room, but quickly decided against it. I knew it would always have been on if I didn't fight to have it turned off, and I just didn't want that much TV in my life.

After a short, blissful honeymoon, things started getting bad with the cable company. The internet connection started flaking out and disappeared from time to time. We had tech people coming to our house on a regular basis, unable to solve the problem. The calls to tech support became frequent, and some of them were nasty. I made trips to the central office here in Salvador, where I spent long periods of time waiting to talk to people who couldn't help me. That's all I'm gonna say about it.

Time went on and finally I got the call that DSL was available in the neighborhood. I cancelled the internet portion of our cable service with considerable glee. At one point I tried to switch to a satellite provider, who offered us a much better deal of more channels for less money, but the stupid building in front of our house blocked the satellite so we were stuck with NET.

Sometime during this period we discovered Lost. Evani and I don't remember this the same way, but I swear we caught the beginning of the pilot at the beginning of the first season. She thinks we came in later which is probably more accurate.

After our discovery, we didn't miss an episode. It became The Show. It was the only program I watched all week, and I went out of my way to be at home when it was on. I've heard talk about these TiVo things, and they sound nice, but they don't have them here (as far as I know) so on Monday nights at 9 PM, I was in front of the TV, watching Lost. Evani was into it as much as I was, and we always watched it together, which was fun.

As the financial belt gradually tightened and the dollar got weaker, the cable bill became more and more of a nuisance. We got rid of one of the cable boxes, which reduced our bill a little. Evani watches a lot of TV, but mostly on channels that we can receive on a cheapo rabbit ears style antenna. The person who was taking advantage of it most was Ruan, and I was trying hard to limit his TV viewing. NET was becoming a luxury we couldn't afford.

The problem was Lost. The truth was, I was maintaining the cable connection for one stupid TV show.

At the end of the third season, I downgraded the cable package to Standard, which didn't have any redeeming qualities. We didn't have AXN, which is the channel that carries Lost. We didn't have BBC World anymore, or any other English language channels. What we did have, for some reason, was a couple extra cartoon channels we hadn't had previously, which wasn't a bonus as far as I was concerned. Personally, I love cartoons, and would love to be able to watch more of them, but I don't have the time and I hate watching them dubbed in Portuguese. I don't like the voices they select for the characters and the humor doesn't translate at all. Ruan of course doesn't care about these minor technicalities.

My plan was to wait until the beginning of the new season of Lost and upgrade again- or can the subscription entirely. I had been carefully avoiding the math required to figure out how much each episode of The Show was going to cost me. I had already tried to cancel our subscription a couple times previously, but the bastards in sales always talked me out of it, and even gave me a three month, 50% off promotion which I couldn't refuse.

Finally, Evani informed me that the fourth season was about to start. In a couple days. I had to make a decision.

By this time the financial situation had gotten dire. I needed to know if I could afford the upgrade before I committed myself to another season of The Show. The NET website is horrid, and has some weirdo flash-based gizmo that is extremely confusing to navigate. It took me forever to figure out that the 'Master' plan was going to cost me over 90 reis a month, which is more than $50 a month, or more than 13 bucks per show. I couldn't justify it anymore. I finally cancelled my subscription, despite an additional 50% promotional offer for three more months.

The 4th season of Lost began with two fewer devout fans.

On Monday we lost our signal.

Yesterday they called and said they were picking up the cable box.

Today they showed up and took the box away.

And now I have one less bill to pay.


michelle said...

if your internet connection doesn't crap out, let big mama internet take away your pain;

You can also watch full episodes of the Simpsons on the Fox web site.
hope it works!

AkuTyger said...

I think you might be able to buy the episodes on iTunes. You should check.

markuza said...

Thanks... for trying... to help... I tried the abc link and I got this encouraging message: 'Only viewers within the United States can watch these full-length episodes.' And the last time I tried to use iTunes I got a similar message telling me that they didn't have a deal worked out with the Brazilian government or some such nonsense- but then again that was a long time ago.

Maybe with a little more effort I can get my fix again- but what about Portuguese subtitles for Evani?