Monday, June 8, 2009


My to-do list for this morning included the following items:
  • Make sure visiting cable tech actually gives us free HBO.
  • Link new checking account to old savings account.
  • Purchase lamp for living room.
  • Procure groceries for the week.
About Item 1: we were supposed to get 6 months of free HBO with the cable package in the new apartment, but after the tech left we realized we were still sadly HBO-less. Originally I didn’t care that much, but then we started watching True Blood, and it became imperative that our household acquire HBO by Sunday the 14th.

So on Friday I manned up and called Comcast, and after extensive navigating of the automated system, followed by much discussion with customer service, finally got somebody to admit that we were indeed supposed to have HBO. They sent another tech out this morning to put some sort of magical HBO cable chip into our Tivo, which would in theory allow us to get HBO without renting a cable box for $3/month. Except all the equipment he brought was incompatible with Tivo, necessitating multiple trips back and forth to his van, as well as vigorous sighing. Eventually, Tivo was relegated to VCR status, a cable box was installed, and yet another remote jointed the collection on our coffee table.

Lo and behold, we flipped to the HBO channel, and got a notice that HBO wasn’t authorized for us, followed by a number to call. How it wasn’t authorized when the entire purpose of the tech's visit was to turn it on, I don’t know, but he assured me that I could just call the number, and somebody somewhere would hit a button allowing us access. I was dubious, but I stupidly let him leave.

Then I sat on the phone with customer service, repeating our original tale of woe, now with a couple of added paragraphs about Tivo, non-functioning chips, and newly installed cable boxes. For my trouble, I was assured that I had not, in fact, signed up for HBO service. After another go-around of this, * I was told that the customer service rep wasn’t authorized to turn on HBO, but that he would put in a ticket and someone higher up would call me back. Apparently HBO is some sort of Holy Grail of cable, not accessible by mere customers, technicians, or customer service representatives.

* Now with me clenching my teeth and hissing a little.

Sadly unable to cross off Item 1 on my agenda, I proceeded to Item 2. I had thought that this would be a simple matter of going to my online ING savings account, clicking the ‘Add New Link’ button, and entering in my new checking account info. Except that the first thing I clicked on wasn’t the New Link button, but the Customer Information button, where I noticed my old address still listed as my residence. So I changed it to my new address, and then tried to click the New Link button. But the New Link button had vanished.

You see, it turns out that you can’t add a linked checking account online for 30 days after changing your contact info. This was explained to me by a helpful customer service rep on the phone, after verifying my identity in triplicate and getting my PIN number. After this rigmarole, it turned out that I couldn’t add a linked account on the phone either, but rather that I had to send them an honest to God paper check in a paper envelope, using the United States Postal Service like it was 1990 or something. Five days after they receive and process it, I may or may not have access to my own money. We’ll see, I guess.

A bit discouraged but with a little fight left in me, I turned to Item 3 on my list. I’d been greedily eyeing this lamp** from CB2 for a week, because it would be perfect in our living room. However, as I am super cheap, I couldn’t justify spending $150 on a lamp, no matter how perfect. Then several wonderful, beautiful, and generous relatives sent us checks expressly for the procurement of housewarming gifts. It took me another week of convincing myself, and futilely inspecting nearby and online stores for something similar yet cheaper, but I finally decided to bite the bullet and buy the lamp this morning. There was no way this was going to be anything other than a straightforward internet transaction. Enter credit card info, receive lamp in 7 to 10 business days.

** Link keeps getting broken, but I've added the image for your convenience.

Expect as you’ve probably noticed if you already followed the above link, the lamp is no longer available online. It would be necessary to call them and find out what deal was, and hope that their inventory would be replenished shortly. So I called my third customer service number in as many hours, cringing a bit in anticipation. As it turned out, nothing is ever simple, and their inventory would not be replenished shortly. However, I could call the nearest CB2 store (in New York!) and beg them to ship me one of the lamps they still had on their shelves. Yet another phone call later, the begging was successful, and in theory I now have a lamp coming my way. With the way things are going, I’ll believe it when I see it.

The 4th item on my agenda was procuring groceries, and thankfully, this mission was accomplished smoothly. However, when I returned home carrying the bags, I found a notice on our building, indicating that a water pipe had burst and that our water was now turned off. Apparently they will try to get it restored ASAP. It’s 87 degrees out, I had not turned on the air-conditioning before I left, and I was forced to wash my face and hands with water leftover in our kettle.

Let me tell you, Internets. There is no fucking way I’m looking for a job today.


  1. It looks like you have a lot to do...

    I can help in crossing out the first item on the list of your agenda. I have many contacts throughout the country and I will make sure that the right person is involved to get HBO activated for you.

    You can send me an email including the phone number on the account if you are interested in my help.


    Mark Casem
    Comcast Corp.
    National Customer Operations

  2. LOL there are days where it seems like the whole world is against you, hang in there and tommorow is another day maybe a fruitful day.