Monday, June 15, 2009

I will help you, April Purinton

I caved.

At first, the whole idea of being a TV-free family seemed quite hip. I had visions of us sitting around at night, listening to classical music, enjoying stimulating conversation, and sipping our tea. After about a month, this vision was replaced by the reality that has taken over our evenings: running back and forth into our room to calm a baby that has decided for the sixth time that it really isn't yet bedtime. Where the classical music should be is instead the constant hum and static of the baby monitor. Instead of tea, we're sipping beer. Stimulating conversation is anything that doesn't involve the words "poop" or "spit up."

I don't know what I had envisioned for my TV-free daytime hours. I think it involved a picnic blanket, butterflies, and leisurely naps under a tree with the babies. Ticks, mosquitoes, and the "no sunblock for six months" rule put a damper on that. My days without TV started looking an awful lot like the same four walls of my living room, a perilous addiction to all things internet, and a soundtrack I like to call "looooooook at the fuzzy bunny! Seeeeee the fuzzy bunny? The fuzzy bunny's gonna get yooooooooooou!" At least TV gives the semblance of adult conversation, albeit in a totally one-sided and voyeuristic manner. But hell, I'll take it.

So on Friday I called my friends over at DirectTV for the start of what I like to call, "Mission: Just give me some damn TV already!"

I explained my predicament to the tentative customer service rep who answered. I skipped the parts about the butterflies and the beer. "Oh." She said. "You'll need to speak to somebody in programming then. Let me transfer you." I seemed to be headed in the right direction. The rep from programming picked up the line. It seems the first rep neglected to share any of my rather lengthy story explaining why I was calling. No matter. TV - beautiful, sweet TV was getting closer by the second. So I explained again. "Oh. You need to speak to someone in our re-connections department." Really? They have a specific department solely dedicated to the plight of wayward customers like myself? The rep picked up the line. "Hola. Gracias por llamar DirectTV." Small problem here. Considering that my best second language is pig latin. I apologized in a polite and somewhat embarrassed manner. Explained that I don't speak Spanish. The rep continued. In Spanish. I waited for a pause and repeated our language dilemma. He continued. In Spanish. Repeat. And again. I finally interjected with a frustrated: "I CAN'T UNDERSTAND YOU!!" "Oh." He said. He switched to English.

I now need to pause my rather lengthy story for a quick disclaimer before continuing: I respect and admire the many varied cultures and languages from around the world. I follow the instructions of the bumper sticker and Celebrate Diversity. I think we'd all be better off if we were bi- or tri-lingual. I find accents to be intriguing, mysterious, and generally cool. And wish that I had one myself, aside from the not-so-cool, "wicked awesome" New England accent that I may or may not possess.

So my third rep had switched to English. I explained why I was calling, and he responded. Only I couldn't understand him. He was speaking English, but with a healthy smattering of Spanish mixed in. What to do? At first I tried the subtle, "I'm sorry sir. Could you repeat that?" to no avail. Repeat or not, I couldn't compute. I decided that there was no reason why I couldn't get politely and delicately assertive. "I'm so, so sorry, but I am having a hard time understanding you. Is there somebody else I could speak with?" He responded with a less friendly, "No" and continued. I repeated my request. He repeated his "no," this time adding on, "I will help you, April Purinton. I will help you. Listen harder." I listened. I really did. I wanted to understand him. I did not want to call back, to speak to three more reps. I just wanted my TV back. I wanted Oprah and Ellen to be my friends again. "Please, sir. I'm trying, I really am. And I'm sorry. But I REALLY cannot understand you. Can I PLEASE speak to somebody else?" His response? "I will help you, April Purinton. Listen harder!" We went back and forth like this for several minutes. Exasperated, desperate, and on the verge of tears, I cut in: "I'm hanging up now. I'm sorry. But I'm hanging up and calling back."

And so I did.

Two calls and six transfers later, I succeeded in scheduling a re-installation of my service.

I really should also mention that the guy who came to do the install made some crack about how he "followed the banjo music" all the way into town (which I do believe is an insult toward my place of residence), and later, while using my telephone without permission, commented to his boss that "this phone really bites."

Screw it all. Mission: Just give me some damn TV already? Accomplished.


Daryl said...

AAAAAAAAGH .. so Time Warner isnt the only fucked up TV/Cable provider .. semi good news there ..and that you are back in touch with all that is network (and cable?)television is excellent

Lauren said...

comcast is just as bad. i have been thinking about canceling my cable too, but your annoying experiences make me question if i could actually give up Ellen and any stupid show on TLC, like half ton teen, that i have become obsessed with, only to find that i can't live without them and have to get it all reinstalled.

ps i think george costanza sucks too.

Deb said...


Parsing Nonsense said...

This post cracked me up, I think we've all had moments like this. I really love calling about billing disputes and talking to someone in India who is polite as can be but obviously struggles with emphatically California-esque habit of interjecting "Dude" every other word.

Congrats on the newly acquired TV!

WannabeMommy said...

Dang... I do believe you have a right to understand the person trying to help you in customer service. How frustrating! I don't think I would have been as nice about it as you were.

Anonymous said...

Merciful heavens! This puts my two hours of speaking to India and my 'Provider' who wasn't providing...into the 'what's all the fuss about' category. AHHHHHHEEEEEGGGGAAAAAAAHELP!

I think you kept your sanity remarkably well.

Here from POTD for which, congratulations.

Pouty Lips said...

I came by from David's to say congrats on post of the day nomination. Just listen harder next time, April Purinton. Get a whistle and next time blow it in his ear and tell him to listen harder.

Willow said...

Congrats on POTD from David. Gotta love the service reps who are no help at all.

Beth said...

You are hilarious! And I'm glad you got your TV fix.

Cheffie-Mom said...

Congrats on the Post of the Day Award!

Momma Miller said...

Great post here! This is my first time here and I am over from David's--congrats on being mentioned for contender for POTD. I've had these types of experiences before, but it's always humorous to hear someone else's take. That's hilarious that he wouldn't let you speak to someone else. YOU listen harder, mister!" Heehee!

Good luck with the new satellite TV. We also went TV-free a few months ago and our first couple months were very similar to yours (with the our new 3rd baby and all), so I totally understand the shock. We got Netflix which helped tremendously because of how many TV shows (even kid shows) and movies were live streaming. We hooked it up to our TV screen. Voila! Whew! YAY for TV without commercials or time schedules. However, living in an area that is covered in snow most of the fall/winter/spring, my children (ages 1, 3, and 5) were SO happy when summer arrived and we could all get outside every day and rub shoulders with the neighbors!!

Have a great day!!!


Brian Miller said...

what a riot! i am sure it was not as funny during your plight, but... congrats on your POTD mention. smiles.

Halala Mama said...

Oh my goodness - My husband constantly suggests we get rid of cable to save money and I look at him like he's gone mad. It's the only entertainment in our house right now - plus he would wither and die with out 24 hour cable news.... If you think this was fun - try getting Sprint to admit a mistake. I actually hung up on them while I was pregnant because I was going to bawl. At work. Over a cell phone issue. They are heartless bastards there.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

This was funny, glad you got POTD so i could discover others suffer from cable challenges.

April said...

Daryl, Parsing Nonsense, WannabeMommy, Moannie, Willow, and PHST- Do we need to start a petition for decent customer service? I would suggest a boycott of all companies with crappy customer service, but I've already proven my absolute inability to live without TV. Sigh.

Lauren- Don't do it!

Mom- Ellen is now going to help you with Funday Mondays!

Pouty Lips- I love it, and SO wish I had thought of that at the time!

Beth, Brian, and Cheffie- Thank you!

Shaye- I thought I'd adjust...several people suggested Netflix and I wonder if that would have helped. I love Hulu, but it just didn't cut it for me! Where's my Oprah, Hulu???

Halala Mama- NOT let the husband win on this one! Just direct him over here if he needs proof. For the love of god and sanity, we moms need some entertainment!

♥ bfs~"Mimi" ♥ said...

Here from David's. Great job!!!!!

introspection said...

Over from David's. Great post - one needs to have a real sense of humour to see some thing funny at such times. I am out of patience with such things. And completely lose it most times. Oh..!!! the number of languages English is spoken in..!!! Not funny.

Congrats for making it to POD.