I came home from summer camp one year back in the mid-1970s, and my parents said we now had something called HBO. First, I noticed the clear improved picture on the familiar channels but I was astonished to see uncut full-length movies on a single channel. Being a teen, I was particularly fond of the R-rated offerings I was otherwise unable to see. They explained that we now had what was called cable television and as chance had it, the company was based nearby.
In 1975, we had a fledgling in-house radio station WJER that saw us playing whatever we felt like and pump it into the cafeteria. Our leader, Brian Isaacson, was also dabbling with video production and we all collaborated on a thirty minute production which, he assured us, would be played by this new company, Cablevision. That was my introduction to the joys of public access cable television. We completed our venture and I was part of the group carrying the precious ¾” video tape to the Cablevision offices at the edge of our housing development.
I have only vague memories of what was on the tape or why we wound up speaking with the Dolans, the family that ran the operation. I do recall coming away with a negative impression of the Dolans, an opinion that has never wavered through the years.
After my family left for California, but I stayed behind to have my own life, I also became a Cablevision subscriber – not out of any loyalty, but because they were the only game in town. The same circumstances followed me and Deb as we relocated to Connecticut in 1992. So, Cablevision has been part of my life for pretty close to forty years.
We finally cut the cord this week. ATT’s Uverse finally had a mix of offerings and prices that made sense for us to make the switch. They must have been busy with similar cases because even though we made the decision months ago, Saturday was the first available appointment that worked for us. As promised, the technician arrived on schedule and stayed for the estimated four hours as we diligently switched our cable, phone, and internet connections to ATT.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing. Our in-house wireless network wasn’t talking with the router they installed and Deb spent hours trying to figure it out, working with their technical support people until finally, yesterday, it got fixed. She spent another thirty-two minutes trying to figure out a technical problem with her home office line.
But, it’s all working now. Our DVR can now record up to four programs at once with a storage capacity of 135 hours as opposed to Cablevision’s 24 hours. We finally have BBC America (although not yet in HD) and DIY, two of the channels we begged Cablevision for.
Through the years I have corresponded with the company, complaining about their packages, noting they don’t offer what I wanted and that their prices were high. I held them to their promises or public proclamations and wrote them when they seemed to fall short. When their then-President said he was in favor of a la carte pricing and intended to bring it to Cablevision, I waited six months then inquired when we’d see it. He never wrote back. In November last year, I called to inquire about the limited hours of DVR storage and when were they improving things? Customer service assured me it was coming in early 2011. I was still waiting when we decided to cut the cable.
Subscribers were offered various membership perks including free movies at theaters the conglomerate owned. None happened to be in Connecticut but that didn’t stop them from e-mailing us with offers to come to see free movies – in another state. Their other offers never seemed good enough, either.
Finally, we have choices and we are exercising our rights. So far, the picture is fine on the television and the DVR is functioning fine. Our internet speed is as advertised and the phone connection is clear.
I don’t think I’ll be missing Cablevision and the Dolan family; no doubt they won’t be missing me either.