Today I discovered I can't get the Sci-Fi channel. What the... that's not supposed to be! Every time I open the channel on the box I get "Not Authorized." So I call up Comcast and after 20 minutes of listening to hold music as they fought with their system (hell of a time for an upgrade) I got an answer: the "Digital Starter" package has been discontinued and it doesn't qualify as the basic package (that makes it... sub-basic?) in the digital lineup. So I asked what could be done about it. "Oh, we could move you to the Digital Classic package... then you'll get the SciFi channel. Of course, you'll be paying more.... and you won't get the Starz channel anymore... was this a promotion?" Yes, it was a promotion, I ordered it back in January of 2004. "Well, I'm sorry, but we can't honor that. You'll have to upgrade if you want the SciFi channel." Well, by my reckoning, that's not an upgrade... that's a downgrade because I'll be paying more and losing my premium channel in order to get something that, as near as I can tell, I'm supposed to have already by the simple virtue of having a digital package. I politely declined this "offer."
While I was on the phone I also asked about this five-dollar-a-month charge they have for their "High Def" package. The rep begins to list all the channels that are included with it... several of which I can access just fine already. Why would I need to add $5 more to my monthly fees just to get something I'm already receiving (apparently my ability to tune the Discovery HD channel was a technical fluke this weekend, what a pisser of a deal that is). Again I declined and I thought to myself, Comcast can blow me. After thanking the rep for their help, I hung up and pulled up DirecTV's site to start comparing prices.
DirecTV is just as expensive and actually charges more to turn on HD content. Additionally, it appears that I will have to get an HDTV antenna if I want to receive the HD broadcasts of the local network affiliates (NBC/ABC/CBS/FOX/PBS). I'd be trading up to a Tivo for a DVR, which would be good... but then I'd have to mount not one but two antennas outside, which is not an attractive option in the least. As near as I can figure from their web page, it's $10.99 per month for HD content and I have to get the package that starts at $41.99, so there alone I'm at $53 before tax. I'll have to pay even more money than that (or at least I think it will be more money because they won't let me see how much it costs a month) to have the HD Tivo service. Ugh! If they won't put your pricing up front where I can find it after 30 minutes of prodding at your site then you fail at marketing. So let's run the math here: $53 + unknown cost for the DVR + unknown taxes = ??? Yeah, sign me up for that deal! Thus, DirecTV can also blow me.
Guh. When did television become such a wonderful world of suck?
Construction on what I have lovingly dubbed the "Great Wall" continues apace behind my property line. As autumn looms over our valiant construction crew for the new NTB, the foreman has apparently realized that their delayed start is threatening the completion date of the project. Because of that they're now working 12 straight hours a day. That's right, they start at about 7 AM and finish at around 7 PM now. I get to wake up to the sound of grinders, skidloaders and hammers and then I get to come home to it as well. Congratulations, NTB, you've annoyed the living hell out of me after stepping all over my toes to get into that lot to begin with. NTB can achieve a trifecta with Comcast and DirecTV when they blow me as well.