Unplugged: Back to the Past – Partially

Some of you might have noticed I haven’t  published anything in about a week.  There’s a reason for that.

I’ve just recently experienced a time from my youth when there was only one television and one phone in the house.  Following a dispute over an amount on my Charter Communication bundling bill for the 4th consecutive month since I signed up with them in March, I cut myself off from the world of electronics.  It occurred by  happenstance after I by-passed calling them yet another time to haggle once again with their billing department.  This last time I merely submitted payment for everything but the $40 that was in dispute.

Last Monday I get a recorded call in the late evening informing me I need to call their billing department on “a very important matter”.  I ignore it because I am fed up with them anyway and despise Charter above everything else in my life at this point in time.  The next morning I get up and I find they have disconnected my TV and Internet service for failing to pay the full amount.  They obviously leave the phone line running so I can call to find out what’s going on.  So when I do, I tell them to make it official and unsubscribe me completely.

As usual the poor lady on the other end of the line who is not fully aware of my short awful history with her company, tries to console me and asks if she can lower some rates to keep me as a customer.  I ask, “Why?  So we can dispute that next month?”  I tell her its’ nothing personal but along with having issues every month with the awful TV picture image I was getting, that their entire customer service system is dysfunctional beyond belief and I was not going to be won over.

So, I found myself without TV, Internet services or a phone land line for several days.  I had left my cell phone at the part-time job I have so my wife and I were literally down to her one cell phone as the only means of being in contact with “the outside world” the day I bid farewell to my nightmare.   It was eery at first and the silence without the sound of a TV going or activity on the computers was deafening.

My wife and I talked a lot more than we had in a while and I read much more than I normally would.  I had already signed up with a bundling service with Verizon FIOS but they would not be able to install their system until Friday, three days away.  Would we have withdrawals before that time came?

Actually, after two days of nothing but our cell phones, we rather enjoyed it.  We began recalling how this is the way we were raised.  The only time the old black & white TV was on in our house when I was a kid was from 6-9pm during the week and Saturday morning’s for cartoons.  For the most part TV’s and telephones were secondary in our social lives because I was usually linking up with friends in the neighborhood and finding some activity to do with them outside until we were whistled home by my dad, who used the two-fingers-in-the-mouth style whistle for reaching us two blocks down the road.

Both my wife and I began to realize that we were really not entertained that much by what is on the tube these days.  For what little TV we wanted to watch I could buy one of the new digital antennas to pick up “free” TV signals and we could buy a dvd player to watch movies.  The cell phones we had would work just fine for us as far as communicating with friends or businesses, so, we decided to make a small life-style change.  Instead of the bundled package of Verizon’s that came with TV, phone and Internet, we opted for internet service only.  It would serve much of our needs for news and other information we thought relevant.

We’d of course have to call everyone close to us to inform them that they could now only reach us by our cell phones or e-mail accounts and would no longer be able to plan on using our homes for big televised events like the Super Bowl or the World Series.  My experience with the digital antenna I went out and bought yesterday has already underscored the fact that air wave signals are not all that reliable as they were when local TV network airwaves were pretty much the only signals flying through the air back then.

It really feels good to be free from the hassles and demands that technology can bring with it and the cost savings are a ton better.  However, the Samsung Blue-Ray DVD compact player I bought does allow me to hook up to a myriad of services for movies and music that I can connect with off of the wireless router for our computers.  But after an attempt to do the so-called “easy step connections” for some of these services (which turned out to be anything but easy) I think I’ll just leave the TV alone and wink at it occasionally as I pass through the room on my way to read the daily newspaper I’m subscribed to.

If I get the time and am in the mood, I might toy with the bells and whistles on the compact disc player but then I’m really not feeling compelled to rush this, and neither is my wife.  In fact, we may just skip down to the town square here in Denton this evening and watch a lot of the free entertainment there as the Juneteenth holiday comes up.  We may in fact discover a whole ‘nother world we haven’t seen in quite some time.


11 responses to “Unplugged: Back to the Past – Partially

  1. You are such a rebel! I love it! I think I could go without cable TV. I could not go without my cell phone or internet though, so for that I would be at their mercy

  2. A horrendous tale…and I sympathize…I recently tried to get a smart phone and activate ….after a month of trying to do this and talking daily with tech support….I tried to get a refund…a month later I had to do everything but a lawsuit before it was settled….my internet nemesis is CableOne….more mistakes in billing than they are worth…..good luck!

  3. What a lovely story. I had noticed you weren’t publishing anything this past week. It’s refreshing to hear how you made the best of a sudden life style change. The silence can be deafening, but then it is also rejuvenating.

  4. Good for you for sticking to your guns! We are lucky enough to have COX Cable for TV and Internet here. I have DirectTV up at our summer home and like that too (but they don’t have internet). I have Verizon for our cell phones and we are happy with them, too. Just stay away from AT&T – poor coverage!

    • Verizon is my only option for Internet but I wish it weren’t. I’m boycotting them where I can Kathleen since they, AT&T and ComQuest (I think) were allowing the Bush administration to listen in on private phone conversations which was and still is illegal. I used Direct TV once and was pleased with them. I hooked up to them after I discovered that the DISH TV I was signed up with was owned by Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp. Everything is political with me on such things. 🙂

  5. There’s not enuf competition. Monopolies don’t have to concern themselves with customer service. The customer isn’t always right, he/she is always dependent. I applaud your resolve too, but you’re a drop in their bucket. Unless you get hundreds or thousands of your friends to do the same, they won’t feel it. Btw, I like the new theme.

    • I am a drop in the bucket but down here Charter has lost quite a few drops. It wasn’t really my goal however to effect their bottom line as it was to effect mine and get some piece of mind. Glad you like the new theme Ron.

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