Trapped in a Digital World
Earlier in this blog, I chatted a bit about Cable and my desire for ala carte programming. The lack of choice has kept me from upgrading to Digital Cable despite all the bells and whistles it has advertised (bells and whistles I will likely not need or desire).
On Friday, I came home to discover a letter from Cablevision saying my premium cable package is being phased out on September 28. The only way to get HBO and the others was to upgrade to Digital.
While prepping for the radio interview, I went to their web site, browsed their three package options, found them wanting and fired off the following e-mail to customer service:
I am furious at the notice I received in today’s mail. After winnowing my cable options since December, you now intend to remove all the movie channels from my service. To continue to enjoy these channels, you are now insisting I upgrade to Digital.
However, you do not have a package that suits my needs. Please tell me how I can receive HBO, Cinemax, Starz, Showtime, Encore, and Flix without receiving the seventeen variations of each brand.
Without greater flexibility in your package options you’re dangerously close to losing a longtime customer (me and my family can date our Cablevision service to 1976). I look forward to hearing from you in the immediate future.
This morning I found the following awaiting me in my inbox:
Thank you for your email.
Every cable subscriber during this year has to upgrade to digital service as per FCC regulation.
Please call our sales department, as I am sure there is a package that you will enjoy.
Thank you for using Cablevision
Cablevision Shared Services
To which I replied:
Thank you for your optimistic but useless reply.
I have already review the Gold and Silver packages and they DO NOT meet my needs. Unless you’re hiding Bronze or Copper options or are ready to offer ala carte, then I am stuck.
And still furious.
Actually, maybe a little less furious since I may not have known that the Federal Government wants everyone upgraded to digital. The FCC is basically asking me to spend more money without providing me with regulations giving me the freedom of choice I have come to expect from this country. (Almost the reverse of those unfunded mandates like “No Child Left Behind.”)
Deb figures we should merely get the minimal digital package, skipping all the movie channels. Rather than tape movies to watch at a later date of our choosing, the alternative would be to frequent the local video store which takes a lot of the spontaneity out of the thing. I’m thinking Netflix might be a better alternative since they don’t have a short window to watch and return which helps should we be forced to rent DVDs in order to see The Sopranos, The L Word, Angels in America, Six Feet Under or even sample shows like Deadwood.
I’m feeling in a bit of a bind here. Satellite might be an option but I’m loath to lose the discount we get for subscribing to cable TV and a cable modem. I also don’t like the satellite feed being subject to weather whims.