I wrote my initial consumer report on this topic a few weeks ago.  The report was not glowing.  What’s happened since then?

The jury’s still out on the hardware for the internet service.  Once I first hooked up the new modem, my computer’s dishperformance on the web seemed a little peppier, but the more the week went on, the less I was impressed that it’s really  that much faster.  What’s really given me consternation, though, is that I occasionally have an episode of Internet service disruption.   The website won’t respond when I click to go somewhere, and then a DSL message pops up letting me know that the Internet is down, suggesting I instruct the program to run a diagnostic check, and  some other mumbo-jumbo that I’ve never seen in all the years I had DSL.  Fortunately, none of these episodes has lasted longer than 30 seconds or so, but at the same time, I’ve had regular DSL for all these years and have NEVER lost the Internet.  The service has always been super-reliable, which is a main reason I’ve stuck with Bell South/AT&T DSL.   So much for the upgrade in service?  (For which, of course, I pay more).

As for DirecTV, the replacement DVR hardware has worked the way I expected it would.  We’re happy in every respect with the concept of satellite TV, the picture quality, and the program variety.  I am still chafed, however, by DirecTV’s fumbling and bumbling with my account management.

For example,  I got my first bill  early this week.  I paid it online right away.  Today (Friday), I found another bill in the mailbox outlining very similar but not identical service and for a slightly different amount due.  The second bill, I noticed, also had my phone number listed incorrectly.  So I spent another 45 minutes or so on a big Friday night talking to three different DirecTV customer service reps, the latter two who more or less contradicted one another in explaining how the accounts would be resolved, but in the end assuring/promising me that all was well and would continue to be well in the future.  It was hard for me to keep from laughing, but not because I am particularly amused.

My theory is that these firms are expanding so rapidly that they can’t train and maintain a competent staff fast enough to keep up with business.  I think I’m an expert in dealing with them now, based on the past few weeks logging hours of endless conversations with customer service reps, many of whom I suspected were in over their heads.   They were all well-intentioned and seemed kindly disposed to help me with my problems, but the fact that problems persisted and new problems arose underscores the fact that while kindness is an essential characteristic of quality customer service,  it doesn’t fix problems as well as knowledge and competence.

The grave question after all this follows: “Knowing what I know after these past two weeks, would I still change my cable service?”

I’m just about the point to where I’d answer that question, “No.”  Life seemed so much simpler (and cheaper) back then.

But alas, I signed on the dotted line, so the course is set.  I hope I’ll feel better about  a few months from now.  We’ll see.

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