Posted by on March 4, 2021

         [Note: I was tempted to post this on my Facebook page, but I really only need to get it out of my system, so I’ll post it here where it won’t be quite so public.]

         I can remember back decades ago in my early youth, that when something went wrong with the television, you either took it into a TV repair shop or, at times, the repairman would come to your house.  He might test some wires, replace a tube or two, and within the span of an hour, have you back up and running.  Of course, this did not account for the time it may have taken for him to fit you into his schedule, or the wait-time for him actually to arrive.  It seemed like an eternity when you were waiting for him, but he usually got the job done in good order.

         Fast-forward to 2021.  We’re now in a hi-tech age, where things are supposed to move much faster.  I wish I could vouch for that.  In terms of time invested, this day and age consumes many times more.

         The other day Evelyn and I realized that the “On Demand” feature of our TV was not working.  It probably had not been working for a long time, since we rarely used it, but since it was part of the package we were paying for, we said, “Hey – let’s get this puppy working” (not in so many words). 

         So I called Verizon, and, after a very long wait (at least a half-hour, but probably more), “Stephen” finally answered.  Very pleasant, very patient.  You can probably guess what the first suggestions were that he made – that’s right, the “universal fix”: unplug the TV, unplug the router, unplug the cable box, then plug ‘em all in again.  What this had to do with the “On Demand” feature not working, I don’t know, but perhaps he thought it would kick in during the rebooting.  After all that, nada.  So he decided to probe the box himself from wherever in the world he happened to be.  He even sent me a link so I could use my phone’s camera to show him the face of the cable box.  He apparently tweaked a few things and, after an hour and a half, concluded that the cable box itself was defective.  He sent a “ticket number” to my cell phone so I could have permission to return the defective box.

         Now, you would think that the capital of the state would have a Verizon Fios store, but it does not.  It has a Verizon store for phones, but that place doesn’t handle TVs.  I had to drive to Camden, DE, about 25 minutes away (so, nearly a one-hour round trip).  The young lady in the store already had my ticket number on her computer, so she noted the return of my defective box and gave me another.

         Now, I’ll admit that I’m no electronics genius, but I do know how to attach a coax cable to the “In” port and another to the “Out to TV” port.  Not only that, but I’m even able to figure out where the power cord goes (the only three requirements for hooking up a cable box).  I did all three and … NOTHING!  I called Verizon again and, after another exorbitantly long wait, was greeted by “Stephanie,” another very pleasant tech person.  As with “Stephen,” she looked into the cable box, asked me for the serial number, and discovered, in her words, “this box is defective.  It never should have left the warehouse.”


         So, the next day, I went back to Camden to return the second cable box.  “Do you have a ticket number?” the owner asked me.  No, nobody sent me a ticket number.  “Well, I need to have authorization to take the box back.”  I called Verizon from the store and realized all over again that it was going to be another half-hour or longer wait for someone to answer.  I decided to head home, keeping the line open, and use the remaining time for something more constructive than sitting in a parking lot listening to the same eight measures of music that made no sense anyway.  Besides, I noticed that the battery on my phone was getting low, so this would give me a chance to recharge it.

         But, no such luck.  I was about two miles from home when “Melinda” answered.  Providentially, the road had a shoulder I could pull over on to answer her questions, but it was still going to take a while, and I wanted to get home to charge the phone, so I continued talking with her as I drove the rest of the way home.  She texted me the ticket number I needed.

         Our conversation ended, I plugged my phone in for a while to make sure there would be enough battery for the rest of the day, and, for the third time, headed back to Camden.  The owner opened the carton with the cable box, cables, remote, etc., in it and said I could keep everything other than the cable box.  I asked him for a replacement cable box.  He asked me if I had a ticket number for it!  NO, I DID NOT HAVE A TICKET NUMBER FOR IT – NOBODY TOLD ME I HAD TO HAVE A TICKET NUMBER TO GET ANOTHER BOX!!  He said he had to have authorization to release another box and, without a ticket number, he couldn’t give me one.

         I almost said it out loud, but I didn’t: “Thanks.  You’ve just answered a question I was asking myself.  You’ve just asked me to jump through one hoop too many.”  And I drove straight to Xfinity.

         Makes me wish we had left “On Demand” well enough alone.

Posted in: Writings