The Twelfth Circle of Hell

I know… Dante only described nine circles.

But that was before Microsoft (10th) or [sorry cannot name this entry due to NDA](11th).

The 12th circle is reserved for those who’ve committed the most heinous of offenses.

Starting out, I nominate: 1) whoever thought it was a good idea to use a publishing metaphor for the web; and 2) the cretin who allowed Microsoft Publisher to be used as a web “design” tool.

I will likely revisit this list over time.

Carolina [cable] hospitality

One of the tasks to carry out during my three week sojourn in NC this spring was to fix up the problems with TV/Telephone/Internet Access at the beach house.

Our family beach house is a condominium – ostensibly the complex provides cable TV and Internet, but the Internet is shared-access wifi with the rest of the complex, and we prefer dedicated access. For years that meant dealing with CenturyLink – a telephone company so bad it changes its name every few years in a futile attempt to regain credibility.

Of late, though, the incumbent cable carrier has made a play for business, and thus my parents decided to change over to Time Warner Cable (Eastern Carolina division). They ordered the service while they were in temporary quarters (the condo was being repaired from 2011 hurricane damage).

The telephone port worked fine… they had no idea how to work the set-top box… and the goofball contract installer couldn’t leave well  enough alone on the router and reset it back to factory default.

And by the time I arrived, while it was working, we had not seen an invoice for service.

So I initially went on-line to figure out where the issues were, and ran into a problem – I couldn’t get in, because the billing system is separate from all the other systems – and it needed the account number, which I didn’t have (no invoice yet!) and wanted the phone number. I put in the phone number for the unit – no dice. Put in the NJ home phone. No go. Put in my personal and then business line numbers. Still nothing (we’ve had all these numbers at least 15 years). Finally tried the phone number from the temporary quarters – and that worked!

So I got in that far, but couldn’t change the phone number… and found security was based on “last 4 digits of the subscriber SSN” – which didn’t match either parent’s SSN, apparently. And of course  TWC also wanted a “customer code” which was on the missing invoice.

Thus it meant heading off to Newport to the cable office.

…and after a 30-minute drive, finding a line to stand in, and eventually getting to two agents who worked diligently for about 40 minutes to fix all the problems in the billing. Turns out the contract installer decided to “correct” the information in the work order and screw things up. (Somewhere,  a village is missing its idiot.)

Now we know the account number; have set up payment methods, turned off pay-per-view and international calling for the summer rental crowd (no more calls to India or Singapore), and even negotiated a better rate for the service.

The office agents were competent and thorough – far superior to telephone and online agents. At least cable systems have actual staffed offices where you can get things done; the supposedly superior telephone companies do not (union labor made that too expensive years ago).

I reset the router back to our normal setup, after booting off the leeches… and finally all is well.

And two days later it was time to pack up and come home (to NJ).

Wonder if any of it will work properly in the fall.