Always Something With the Cable Company

cableguy-0216Even now, in the age of cord-cutting, the cable guy from the cable company still has opportunities to vex the work of AV pros.

When I say “cable guy,” I mean to encompass not only the installers, but the customer support personnel in the call center. 
I’m sure that cable company personnel are all hardworking and mean well, but if there’s a single expression that sums them up it’s “just enough knowledge to be dangerous.”

Not for nothing is there frequently tension between AV pros and the cable guy. Cable company personnel have such an innate gift for sowing discord that it’s almost charming. On calls to the support desk, whether it’s you or your client calling, the call center’s scripts will point the finger at your hardware or installation being the culprit.

It’s certainly been my experience with broadcast help desks that they will blame anything and everything before admitting they’ve got a problem with their infrastructure or service. In person, at their most direct, they’ll show up for a service call, and unplug a bunch of cables from your equipment location. And today, thanks to the connected, IP-enabled hardware at their disposal, they’re able to mess up your installations remotely with the press of a button.

A friend who specializes in IT for small and medium business just had this happen to one of his clients this week. The client, after much deliberation, saw no value in continuing to pay for broadcast TV service, and called the broadcaster to cancel his cable TV. That’s, fine but at the same time the call center rep, misunderstanding the instructions, turned off his high speed cable Internet as well. Then, when the client called to complain, and they switched the Internet back on, it still wasn’t working.

In this instance, it took my friend’s tech an aggravating amount of time to troubleshoot the problem. The reason why the Internet wasn’t working after service was restored was that the call center rep toggled their cable modem to act as a router, when in fact in this installation my friend’s main router is upstream of the modem (as you would expect, unless you work for the cable company), which messed up his router’s switching function.

Just remember, it’s only funny in hindsight.

Even if they’re completely wrong which frankly, is anytime they encounter a situation that’s not in their script, the help desk people do mean well, and they do want to help. At the same time, I understand the frustration when you’re told to check things you’ve already checked, and double checked before you even called them in the first place. Successfully dealing with (or avoiding!) the cable guy boils down to client management.

Be sure to have open communications with your client, and when they have to schedule a service call to get the cable connected or fixed, make sure the client is well coached on the following script: “Good day Mr. Cable Guy. No, don’t touch that! Don’t touch anything! All you have to do is go down to the panel in the mechanical room and make sure the signal coming into the house is full strength. It is? Great! You need me to sign here? Great! No, don’t touch that! Thank you, and good bye!”

If possible, it doesn’t hurt to assign one of your installers to hold the client’s hand and shoo away the cable guy.