Friday, September 17, 2010

TV saga

As anyone following me on Twitter or Facebook knows, we have had issues upgrading our tv service.

It started several weeks ago when Comcast informed us of their 'digital migration' - a fancy way of saying they will no longer have analog service and we had to get a digital tuner.

For several years, we have talked about trying AT&T's U-Verse service. We had tried once before, in January 2009, but were too far for the signal. A lot has changed since then and the signal supposedly goes further now, so we decided to use this as our impetus to switch.

Last Friday the installation tech came out around 10 am to hook us up... and found all sorts of errors on the line. He called for a service tech to come check the lines; they cleaned up a lot of problems, but still not a clean enough signal. So, many hours later (almost 7 pm), and after rewiring from the pole to the house, we were left with the promise that another service ticket had been placed and hopefully we could reschedule an installation soon. Chris got on Twitter and tracked down someone at AT&T who promised to look into it.

Tuesday I received a call from AT&T tier two support asking if we had been updated on the situation. We hadn't. Turns out someone had come out Sunday and determined that we are just too far so our order was canceled. I'm not sure if it was Chris's tweets, but I guess I should be happy someone called to let us know. And we got a new telephone line that isn't in between the cable and electric (you have to see our outside wires to understand that). And they fixed some problems on the lines that will hopefully mean our phone doesn't go out every time we have a lot of rain.

Thus, the trek to Comcast's office on Henderson Thursday morning to pick up a digital tuner. (We have thought about switching to satellite, but there are a lot of trees around us. Plus, we have heard about a lot of problems during lousy weather. So, we'll stick with cable for now.) Picking up the tuner was easy. The problems started when Chris hooked it up.

Around 5:30 pm, after getting home, Chris hooked up the tuner. Remembering that the woman at Comcast mentioned having to call to activate it, something which was NOT in the less-than-satisfactory directions, I called the 800 number. The automated message mentioned it might take up to 45 minutes to completely download the program guide.

Flash forward to 7:30, after eating dinner and playing. The boys like to watch a show before bed; it helps wind them down. Still no tv. No channels, no channel guide, the remote did nothing. So I called to report trouble and got another signal sent with the same caution about taking up to 45 minutes.

8:30. The boys are now in bed. The tv is still not working. Chris unplugged and re-plugged the unit. He did some digging in the basement and changed the wiring so it doesn't go through the vcr... and found a very old trap in the house on the cable line, which he removed. While he did that, I called technical support. The first call got dropped. I called back and got forwarded to a 'specialist'. As he was asking about how things were wired (understandable to need to know if it was a simple wiring issue - I passed that to Chris since he understands all of that better than I do), it suddenly started working.

I'm not sure if it was Chris's fiddling with the wiring or if one of the activation or reboot signals finally made it through.

We thought all was well until this morning when we turned it on at 7:38.... to find only the last station watched available. And the program listing at the bottom of the screen didn't go away. And the time on it didn't change.

I'm sure you've guessed - yes, I called tech support again. While the very nice woman I spoke to walked me through trying to get the remote to do anything (it wouldn't even turn it off), it suddenly started working at 8:00. She had no idea why it did that.

Ah, I'm sure you think all was well, just as I did.... until I looked at the dvr function and realized it did not work. The message on the screen that it was unavailable was a pretty good clue.

So on to the second call to tech support this morning, where I talked to another very nice woman, who had, coincidentally, worked at the Bloomington office before. After much trying of this and that, she discovered that our box was mis-coded in their system as not being a dvr. Luckily she was able to correct that, after which she had me unplug the box to reboot it, then she sent a new activation signal.... and it worked.

At this point, all is well. I've taped one show to test the dvr and turned the box off and on with no problems. The full guide doesn't seem to show (it goes about 2 hours out and then falls off) but I hope that will correct itself. I'm tired of calling tech support..... and I really don't even want to contemplate changing services again any time soon!

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