Comcastic

Have you ever been in a situation where a customer service person tells you something you know to be wrong? (I know, cable company customer service complaints, how trite.) This frequently happens when speaking to customer service people on the phone, especially when the person whom you’re asking where to find something within a 15-mile radius of your house clearly is not even in the same country as you are.

In that scenario, the solution is of course, to hang up the phone and call the 800 (877, 866, whatever) number again because the odds certainly are against getting the same person twice.

But it happened to me yesterday in the Comcast store. To fully enjoy the benefits of my factory-renewed (aka last year’s model) HD TiVo, I need two CableCARD decoder things. There exists a multi-stream card that can be used in the newest model, which does the same thing as two single-stream cards. But I need two cards in my TiVo. It says so on the Internet.

The lady at the Comcast store told me the multi-stream card does the same thing as two single stream cards. I said, “But I have the TiVo Series 3,” and she said, “Yeah, yeah, that’s what this is for.” Hmm.

My options? Argue with her that no, it won’t work with my model, insist that she give me two cards; or take the card home, activate it, verify it doesn’t work like two cards, and then take it back telling her that I need two cards. Because maybe the Comcast lady knows more than the TiVo website. And certainly she knows more than me.

Because even when I take the card back, she insists that it should work the same as two cards. Never mind that the TiVo itself told me, after I installed the multi-stream card, “To record two programs at once, you need another card,” never mind that I called TiVo and the dude on the phone said my TiVo will read a multi-stream card like a single-stream card, so I need another card.

The lady asks if I’m sure I put it in the right slot. And tells me that I’m lucky they still have some single-stream cards lying around, because they were told they didn’t need them anymore. (Two multi-stream cards would work as well, but whatever.)

A few years ago, I guess it was really hard to get the CableCARD (why it is spelled that way, I do not know) activated, as evidenced by a myriad of message board exasperations. The activation process this morning, even though I didn’t have enough cards, was pretty seamless, so I’m optimistic that it will be similarly easy to install the two cards tonight.

That’s why when the Comcast lady had trouble removing the multi-stream card from my account and asked accusingly if I’d activated it (like, “why would you activate it if it was the wrong card?”), I didn’t scream, “Yes! Because you told me it would work, you idiot!”