Where has the workmanship gone?

So I’m minding my business, reading through 2fatdads.com, when I stumble upon a post by Johnny Canuck detailing his awesome satellite dish rig. I was instantly transported to the summer of 2006, when we left Bell and went all in with Videotron’s version of the triple play offering. We already were using them for their high speed cable internet, so how complicated could it be?

Great  question!

So the first technician shows up with our supposed High Definition PVR, which turned out to be Standard Definition. Did he re-box it and order a new one? Of course not, he insisted that the high definition S-Video cable (translation: Standard definition S-Video cable) was sufficient for a crisp HD signal. To my protests, he took our $80 Monster S-Video cable and plugged it into the PVR upside-down. So now we have a broken S-Video cable, a broken SD PVR (with S-Video pins lodged in).

I figured this was a great time to get some air and check on the wiring job outside.

 Can you see the wire?

So maybe the angle is wrong?

Almost chameleon-like?

So when I go back inside to ask about the wiring, I’m told that’s how it’s done now – Standard installation. So I file this away and bring myself to reopen the PVR issue. After assurances that a new box will be delivered later in the afternoon, we decide to give him a little slack.

Fast forward to later in the afternoon. Brand new Standard Definition PVR enters stage left. Cable guy and Standard Definition PVR exit stage right. More assurances for tomorrow AM.

Did I mention yet that our alarm system was glitching, due to an incorrect phone gateway installation? Turns out that the technician could not figure out how to make phones and an alarm system that uses the phones work together. A quick call to customer service promised a telephone “sharpshooter” at the crack of dawn next AM. So now, we are starting to get the warm fuzzy feeling about tomorrow’s AM.

Now although I have no confirmation of a sharpshooter program, nor any kind of SWAT or SpecOps training at Videotron, a very capable phone guy did show up at 8:00 AM. Alarm working, jacks all rewired, in and out in 45 minutes.  Starting to feel good about our choice again. Then the same cable guy shows up. Good feeling gone…

What’s this? A High Definition PVR box! Things were definitely looking up. Unfortunately, applying electricity to it proved problematic. One would think that such a device would thrive on AC current, but this one was grinding and whirring like mad. So When I pointed out that this hard drive based system sounded wonky, I was assured that they were loud and that this was normal. So I let it play out, and when he placed his Blackberry on speakerphone and called the activation center, who informed us that the unit was “removed from inventory”, as it was defective. Technician exits stage right, and is now written out of this story for good.

One last call to Customer Service, provided a new cable guy, who dismantled the outdoor wiring and hid it properly, provided a working HD PVR and actually measured our signal strength and calibrated it at the pole. Videotron bought us a new Monster cable to replace the one the cable guys mangled. They also provided us with credits against our bill. Makes one wonder with all the labour, replaced gear, customer service support and bad word of mouth, when did (will?) they turn a profit on our subscription?

So I wonder where has the workmanship and pride in one’s work gone? Our hapless cable guy (I wish he was fictional) had neither the training nor the desire to provide work suitable to meet the minimum standard expected. Should we not expect more? I’d like to think that people should look at the job in front of them and think “how would I do this if this was my home?”. These techs are on the frontline of the telco’s  customer facing team, and if a satellite dish or cable wire can’t be properly installed, how can the user expect to get what the guy in the commercials is getting (let alone a signal)?

At least we get a signal in the rain, snow and wind. Which is definitely better than before.

4 comments

  1. I saw the finished work at Steve’s when I liberated him of his Bell Wasp Nest… Bell Dish a few years back. The BlackOps Videotron guy did a really good job but I bet Steve had to be there looking over his shoulder the whole time.

    According to our Source LineMan Al, they aren’t even supposed to use this indoor cabling white outside. The black cable they are meant to use has carbon in it that acts as a natural UV filter. This white shelf is not UV coated and basically has a shelf life. It’s a little bit too much cost cutting gone mad.

  2. As a former stage lighting technician, I can’t even fathom a cable installed the way your Videotron putz did it (can’t call him a tech, no sir.) Probably the worst or best case, depending on POV, of shoddy workmanship I’ve ever seen.

    As much as I want our TelCom industries to thrive, this ain’t the way to go about business. Anybody who answers “that’s the way it’s done these days” should be drop-kicked on general principles.

    We should put together a ‘ghetto’ wiring squad, we’d probably make good coin off it too!

  3. So one day we couldn’t get a dial-tone on our home phone. Using the mobile we called Bell and they sent out a tech who took one look at the line outside our house and said “it’s 50 years old, probably original, you can see the copper where the sheath has worn away. I’ll replace it.”

    Great!

    Now you should know that line passes through a tree that was surely just a sapling 50 years ago.

    But what did the tech do? Ran the new line right through the same tree that wore away sheath in the first place!!!

    When I pointed this out his response was “the line outside your house is covered by Bell so if happens again just call us and we’ll come fix it again.”

    So I cut the tree down – it seemed like the easiest way to ensure un-interrupted phone service.