Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Satellite TV R.I.P.

I watched most of the last presidential debate a week ago (boring...). I turned off the TV and came back later at 11 to watch the news. I turned on the TV and the satellite box as usual. No news. The TV worked fine but all I saw was error 015 Acquiring Satellite Signal with no progress being made -- it kept endlessly cycling through the satellites and the transponders. I tried resetting it but that didn't work.

So the next day I checked all the wiring inside and out. Then I called tech support. I tried the computerized voice command help. That was just plain weird and entirely unhelpful. I asked the computer for a technician (more weirdness). The first guy I got sounded Irish and far away. He probably was in Ireland. So I gave him my account details and he immediately said he could not (or would not) help me and he would transfer me to someone who would. Then I was promptly hung up on.

I called back and got someone in India. How do I know that? I didn't have to ask because she sounded far away and I've worked side by side with people from India before. She was helpful and walked me through the same simple tests I had already done, but our conclusion was something had failed. So she offered to schedule an appointment with a technician. I asked how much that was going to cost: $49.95 just for the tech to show up because we didn't spend $7 a month on insurance. And the costs would go up from there. I said no thanks, we would think about it.

We didn't think for long. It turns out that over the last 8 years since we got it, the TV viewing in our house has dropped precipitously. The only thing being watched was the 11 O'clock news and the first half of Jay Leno (the Seahawks weren't being watched this year). This is entirely due to the internet. I spend my full day on the internet, then some of the evening if I have to. News is at the click of a mouse whenever I want to look. And now all the TV networks have current and classic shows available to watch whenever I want to see them, not when satellite has them on. We had become more and more disappointed with the channel selection. The 500 or so channels we got were filled with boring shopping channels, infomercials, foreign language channels and duplicate shows all over the place. And PPV for about half of the rest.

So last Friday we simply said we were done and I cancelled the satellite by talking to someone in the US -- what a concept -- someone on the same continent! Now we save $40 a month that we can use to buy a whole year's TV series or a couple of movies each month. And we don't care about the Feb 2009 HDTV switchover now.


By the way, this has nothing to do with NetScanTools.

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