The cable-TV installation will be easy. Want to buy some property under the Brooklyn Bridge?

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 7, 2011; 8:00 PM

Now that I have sweet, sweet broadband coming through my coaxial cable and coursing, wirelessly, through my house, it is hard for me to muster the spittle-flecked outrage I felt over the weekend for Comcast/Xfinity. Being able to finally watch YouTube videos without having to wait for the little red bar to crawl tortuously from left to right had a way of dampening my fury.

Luckily, I took notes.

I recently made the executive decision to abandon DSL and get cable broadband, which I understood to be blindingly fast. Ignoring any possible danger to my eyesight, I contacted my local cable provider. The modem came from a Comcast reseller. The self-install kit (and the monthly charge) came from Comcast. "Give this to your computer" read the sleeve holding the disc that came with that kit, the disc that was labeled "Install Wizard."

If the Install Wizard had waved his magic wand and made everything go smoothly, I wouldn't be writing this column. He didn't. I am. But, really, what else was I expecting? Do we get mad at Lucy for snatching the football away from Charlie Brown? Or do we get mad at Charlie Brown for being such a trusting idiot?

When my computer said, "Account verification failed. You entered the wrong Comcast account number" (despite my having not entered any number), I reached for the phone.

The aggravating thing about automated phone systems is that often our problems don't fit into their neat choices. When a recorded voice gives you three options to choose from and none of them describe your particular problem, what do you do? I chose the one closest to my predicament and hoped for the best.

It meant hearing that my call might be recorded "for quality assurance purposes." (I don't believe that, actually - not that it's recorded, or if it is, not that it's recorded for quality assurance purposes.)

It meant hearing that Comcast was experiencing a "higher than normal call volume." (Since every time I call, Comcast is experiencing a higher than normal call volume, perhaps it needs to adjust its notion of "normal.")

It meant punching in my phone number and street address. Several times.

When I finally got to a live person, it meant explaining my problem. Then I got to hear them express faux concern: "I understand that you are [restate customer's problem] and that must be upsetting to you."

I was transferred to tech support, cooled my heels on hold there and then heard a sickening series of tones followed by the words that strike fear in the heart of the strongest men: "If you'd like to make a call, please hang up and try again."


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