Time for New DVR Boxes, Time Warner

Husband Jim and I like to watch the conniving and back stabbing found on the CBS show, Big Brother, every summer. Down to five contestants, the show was pretty exciting last Wednesday.

Right in the middle of Jeff’s verbal smackdown on Shelly, his image froze. Of course, we were watching the recorded version. Who watches live TV anymore? The only programming that should be watched live is for sporting events, don’t you think?

Anyhow, Jeff was frozen and couldn’t be persuaded to move forward or backward. This prompted me to reboot our Time Warner HD DVR box. As it started through the process, it got stuck on “app download” through several attempts. Oh, I should mention the interesting sound coming from the box, something like, “er, er, er.”

Come on! We wanted to see Jeff’s rant. We wanted to see who else was going to get kicked out of the house. I ran upstairs to see if by chance, the DVR in the bedroom had recorded it.

No.

So, we set about moving our bodies around the house, cleaning up the kitchen, going through stacks of junk mail, checking Facebook, etc.

“We get lots of things done around here when we’re not watching TV,” I observed.

Just Swap for a Good Box

The next morning, I packed up the cable box, power cord, and remote, and put them in my car so that I could swap the box at the Time Warner office on Peach during my lunch hour. I also needed to get a new driver’s license, so thought I might knock out both errands in one trip. Now, this meant that each would have to be completed in unprecedented time. If not, only one would get done that day. Neither the DMV nor Time Warner are associated with swiftness in my mind. So which to do first?

On the one hand, my driver’s license would expire in one day. But on the other hand, if I didn’t get to Time Warner, there’d be no HDTV that night. What to do?

Probably due to my years in Catholic school and resulting default state of guilt, I made the DMV my first stop. Glory be! I was in and out of that place in 15 minutes. The force was with me when I walked into the cable office minutes later. Two employees were on duty. The one on the left was attending to a woman who insisted she paid her bill in June. The one on the right was just sending her customer on her way.

“This box failed last night, and I’d just like to exchange it for another,” I said when the lady on the right called me to her.

“Oh sure. No problem. If the new one doesn’t work, you may want to call customer service, because service calls are free!”

It never occurred to me to call customer service. Ugh. What if the problem wasn’t the box at all?

“I think the hard drive failed on the box,” I mentioned.  “Judging by the sound it was making.”

Not so Fast. It Isn’t Over Yet

With my “new” box, I headed back to work, pleased with all I had accomplished in such a short period of time. When I got home that evening, I excitedly plugged the box in and happily observed its booting-up process. But wait, something was wrong.

The TV screen read, “No Signal.”

Crap.

After repeatedly unplugging, plugging,and replugging the HDMI cable, with a few reboots thrown in, I decided to call tech support. Finding the number stored in my phone, I got into the automated system that eventually asked me if my Internet was working. Strange, I thought. Why would it matter if I could access the Internet? I figured I had called the wrong Time Warner number and hung up.

So onto the Web site I went and searched for a number to call, only coming up with the same number I had just hung up on. Through the same menu options, I finally got a human who asked me what I didn’t like about my cable (after I established with her that my problem was with my cable, not my Internet). Was the signal too weak? Did it not record right? Finally, she said that she couldn’t help me. She would patch me over to the TV people.

The next guy I spoke went through a series of irrelevant questions designed for the average, everyday Luddite. Finally, he said that he was going to have to reset the box from his office. Yeah. That should do it. Well, as it turns out, after 15 minutes, it became apparent that this approach was the equivalent of unplugging and replugging the device. And it didn’t work.

“Well, ma’am,” he said. “I’m afraid that’s as far as my troubleshooting will take me. Can I set you up for a service call? It’s free, and I can have someone there on Saturday between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. How does that work?”

I explained to him that it wouldn’t work since I was going out of town, plus that was TWO DAYS AWAY. Come on. We had already struggled through one evening without our big TV and would be going through another that night. I told him I just wanted to take the second box back. He said I could do that but it if that didn’t work, I could call back and they could send someone out for free. Why are they so anxious to come to my house?

Because we had recorded Big Brother upstairs now, we ended up watching the rest of the interrupted episode on my laptop and the new one on the teeny TV upstairs. We got a bit more done around the house, too.

Is it the Box? Or is it Me?

I was pretty certain that the problem was with the box, but worried that it wasn’t and that we’d have to wait until the next week to get someone out to the house.

I decided to just go straight to the cable place the next morning, and would be a little late to work. When I pulled up in front of the door, I noticed it didn’t open until 9:00 and I had thought it opened at 8:30. So, I just went straight to work. Argh.

At work, I wanted to see what time the place closed, so I went to the Web site and noticed that there was an office on the east side of Erie, where I work. That meant I could go swap the box on my lunch hour. I knew that there was a Time Warner place right near where I worked. Why hadn’t I thought of that before? So, at lunch time, I hopped in my car and drove up the road. It was eerily quiet when I pulled into the parking lot. There were Time Warner trucks and one door that said, “Employees Only.” So laden with my cable box, I headed for the other one. But it was locked.

“Can I help you?” a man walked toward me.

“Yes, my cable box failed, and I was given this one, and it’s no good either.  I just would like to get another box.”

“We can do that,” said the guy. “Come with me.”

“No we can’t do that,” said another man who appeared from nowhere. “She has to take it to Zimmerman Road, so they can put it in the computer.”

After a few confused moments, I realized I had come to Time Warner’s non-public facility. I guess that’s where the trucks go at night. And there are probably some office people there, too. Finally, pointed in the right direction, I headed off to swap my cable box, this time at the right location.

A New Cable Box. Cross Your Fingers

So, at the right office, I stood in a short line and met a very pleasant representative at the counter. She nodded knowingly when I told her how the hard drive failed on the first box.

“Did it make that ‘noise?'” she asked.

“Yes!” I said.

The woman got me a new box and even wiped it off because she didn’t like how the imprints from the rubber feet of the box that it had been stored above made on it. She made a large note on the box I was returning and highlighted it.

“Do you think they’ll read it, since I highlighted it so much?” she asked.

I chuckled.

“Now, if this one doesn’t work, but give us a call and we’ll get this resolved for you once and for all,” she said. “Our service calls are free.”

I’m glad to report that the new box works great, better than the first one ever did. So, my experience with Time Warner cable was, at times, frustrating, but the overall outcome was positive. I’m back to watching way too much TV.

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Posted in Consumer Life
2 comments on “Time for New DVR Boxes, Time Warner
  1. Krista says:

    Phew! I can’t believe how glued you had me to a story about a cable box fiasco!

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