Tuesday, February 20, 2024

PHALON’S FILE: Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

We all have our stories and our trials. And I would like to think we’ve all risen to the moment.

I recently faced one of the greatest challenges of all time. I speak, of course, about the cable company. For the sake of simplicity, I will use the term “cable company” to describe the various entities that provide internet, TV and telephone service to one’s home, in this case, my home.

I cut the cable, so to speak, a long time ago. We wanted to trim our cable bill, which was
starting to rival the gross domestic product of a small island nation and eliminate the TV
package and the telephone line.

Eliminating the cable TV portion and signing onto a trimmer streaming service was an easy decision.

Between all members of our household, including two wiener dogs, we probably watched about four or five of the 700 or so channels on a regular basis. So why was I paying for the Golf Channel?

The landline telephone was a different matter. Like most people of a certain age, I had the
telephone, or as we simply called it, “the phone,” hard-wired into my being as much as it was into the house.

I could not remember the last time anyone actually used the landline. In fact, I don’t think there had even been a phone plugged into the line for a couple years. But we decided it was time.

Despite pleas and incredible offers, we cut the cable. Well, actually we didn’t completely
remove the cable, as it still carried our internet. More recently, however, our remaining internet service started to deteriorate. Our 100 Mbps line was delivering about 2 to 4 Mbps, or less.

The timing couldn’t be better because now we had the ability to switch to another internet provider! The monopoly was busted!

But, breaking up can be hard to do. At least for a jilted cable company. After several disinterested attempts by Cable Co. No. 1 to things our molasses-like internet, I called to cancel the whole thing.

Being the smart aleck I am, when I got to the menu on the call, I pressed the number for “upgrade service.” I figured I’d get a human faster this way, and I was indeed looking to upgrade my service though with another provider.

A human did answer. I explained what I wanted to do, and the lady on the phone said I had to speak to the high-speed internet department. She didn’t see the irony that I did.

When I told Mr. High-Speed that I was done with “fixes” and I wanted to drop out completely, I was switched again, this time to the Retention Center, which sounded to me like the Re-education Center.

Chad, who had apparently been briefed before he took the call on my desire to dump his company, answered.

He opened with, “OK Joe, what’s goin’ on?” trying to sound like the hip guidance counselor who wants the troubled kids to think he’s cool and relatable.

So, I coolly related my issue. To keep me, he offered to give me a free month, then sweetened the deal with some kind of off-brand cell service, free Golf Channel and six months of the Réseau des Nouvelles et des Sports Canadiens-Français.

I stood my ground despite these temptations. The call wasn’t a complete waste of time as it dawned me that I had never actually talked to a guy named Chad before. Something crossed off my bucket list.

Meanwhile, things are going just swell so far with Cable Co. No. 2. I haven’t had to restart the modem once in more than a few months, a twice-daily occurrence with Co. No. 1.

But stay tuned to this station for updates as they develop.

Joe Phalon
Joe Phalon, Contributing Writer
Contributing Writer

Joe was lured out of retirement by the opportunity to be a part of the Ridge View Echo. During a decades-long career in publishing and journalism, he has covered government on many levels from local school boards to the United States Supreme Court.

Along the way, Joe has worked at American Lawyer Magazine, The National Law Journal and The Record among other publications, and as the Press Officer of Columbia Law School. His work has been recognized with several first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the New Jersey Press Association.

Being part of the Ridge View Echo brings Joe back to his roots and the kind of news coverage he loves: Telling the stories of people and local communities as well as keeping an eye on how their money is spent by their government officials.

Joe lives in Blairstown with his wife Rose, the founder of Quilting for a Cause, and their two wiener dogs. He is an artist in his spare time.