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Old 10-11-2007, 06:26 PM   #89
Bronx33
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On Tuesday, the NHL announced that its dedicated NHL Network (which has been available to those lucky Canadians and their suddenly valuable money for some time) would be coming to US viewers “this month.” More hockey, hooray!

In the brief announcement, Commissioner Bettman said that the NHL had reached carriage agreements with Cablevision, Comcast, Cox Communications, DirecTV, Dish Network and Time Warner Cable. As a Dish Network customer, I immediately sought to find out where I could find some of that NHL Network goodness.



First stop: Dish Network website. Hmmm, nothing on the front page. Sports? Gotta be some info there. Football, check. College sports, check. Cricket, check. Hockey…ah, there it is. Well, that’s about Center Ice. I want my NHL Network, dammit!

Dish had very kindly thrown the NFL Network into my programming package at no charge; surely the same would apply to NHL Network—it’s only one letter off. On the other hand, to get VERSUS I have to subscribe to a premium package. Sadly, this left me with but one choice: calling customer service.

Dish is not as bad on this front as some other companies, but let’s face it: American corporations have very successfully made it so that calling customer service to resolve a problem is now your last choice instead of your first. Customer service lines are currently built on a series of lies and traps.

1) “Please listen carefully, as our menu options may have changed.”

No, they haven’t. They never change. Because if they did, that would mean the company gave a crap about its customer service line, which it doesn’t.

2) “For billing questions and payment information, press 1. To order pay per view movies or events, Press 2. To upgrade your subscription package, press 3. For technical support, press 4. To cause a 10,000 volt shock to be sent over the line, sparing you from suffering through the rest of this call, press 5.”

I do nothing.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t hear you make a selection. Let’s try this again.”

The electroshock option begins to tempt.

3) “All of our agents are currently busy assisting other customers. But your call is very important. Please stay on the line.”

It could be true that all the agents are busy. But that would mean that this entity of which I am a customer is either too stupid to properly staff, or has way too many problems. Neither of which is confidence-inspiring. So this must be a lie. The computer deliberately holds calls in limbo for (at least) five minutes, hoping this will weed out the time-crunched and weak-willed. I bet it works.

4) “Thanks to you for calling Dish Network. My name is Eddie. How may I be helping you?”

Now, from his accented English and stilted grammar, it’s pretty clear that “Eddie” is from India, or possibly Bangladesh. I lose track of the hottest outsourcing trends. But his name almost certainly is not Eddie. It is Jagadeesh, or Jawarhalal, or Manmohan. He knows he’s Indian; I know he’s Indian; why are we pretending that he’s Eddie from Cedar Rapids? I don’t care where he’s from—he’s trying to make a rupee just like the rest of us—I just want him to answer my question.

5) “I am sorry sir, I am not understanding your question.”

It’s possible this is actually my fault—I get a little excited just thinking about the NHL Network. I slow down and explain that I am interested in receiving the NHL Network, a channel dedicated exclusively to hockey.

6) “Hoc-key?”

Ha-ha. That one’s a killer every time, “Eddie”! Oh. Turns out he was genuinely confused. Not so many rinks in Bangalore, apparently.

Several minutes of Eddie searching through the computer brings no results—no such network is part of any programming package they offer. Apparently, word of the carriage agreement has yet to trickle down to the people with whom one might actually place an order for NHL Network.

Well, I was thinking of switching to DirecTV anyway. May as well try them.

“Thanks to you for calling DirecTV. My name is Eddie. How may I be helping you?”

I have a feeling this isn’t going to go well…
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