This morning, I was a bit bemused when I read the plight of SBC and Verizon and their failed attempt to win a state-wide TV franchise in Texas, which would allow them to become both telephone and cable television providers. Because the legislation failed (or more specifically, lawmakers did not act on the bill), SBC and Verizon have to beg or play Mother May I in each and every city in order to receive an individual franchise.
I can't speak for Texas, but here in the Mitten, choosing between SBC and Comcast is like choosing between leprosy and the plague. Dealing with both organizations over the years, it's always been pretty much an even heat as to who I hate less.
First, there is the highly apologetic but completely incompetent phone company. SBC has obviously taken some sort of touchy-feeling course in customer service, because if you ever want somebody apologizing for everything they have done or left undone or imagined they might have done, or might do in the future -- SBC is the place. They are so sympathetic and apologetic, they're nearly apopleptic. I'm surprised the corporate muzak isn't "We're So Sorry, Uncle Albert" on a permanent tape loop.
Unfortunately, their skills end at the apologizing stage, because no matter how sorry they are for all the injustices they have caused, they're going to get whatever you ask for wrong (which, I suppose, makes them very, very sorry indeed). And forget about talking to the same person twice. You'll be lucky if you get a customer rep in the same state. The odds are much better with lighting strikes and lottery wins.
Now, the Corporate Cable Nazi's take an entirely different approach. They don't believe in apologies. They don't even believe in faking it. They just lay in bed, light a cigarette and say, "Not good enough. But be sure to leave the money on the nightstand. Don't forget the 3% FCC surcharge."
Although The Corporate Cable had a local office, my bills got sent to Kentucky. In the interest of saving both time and postage, I began to drop off my bills in person to the local office. Sensing that they were unwittingly providing a HELPFUL service, the Corporate Cable Nazis first severely restricted hours of business, and then closed up the office all together. That would show me.
It's not advisable to anger The Corporate Cable Nazis. If they like you, all they'll do is rearrange all the channels, making you a slave to a small rectangular hunk of cardboard for a month (until you memorize them again and they change them again). But if they don't like you, it's nothing but QVC, PAX, Public Access Television and scrambled signals when the wind blows the wrong way.
And then they'll rearrange all the channels.
So kudos to Texas. New Jersey and California? You're next. I hope I never have to make this sort of gut-wrenching decision, because I'm thinking Krazy Larry's CablePhonEmporiumArama is starting to sound pretty good. I just hope he doesn't rearrange my channels.