Anyway, last October 30th, a bunch of us (about 20) flew to Long Beach California to take a 7 day cruise on the Mexican Riviera. The Cruise started on October 31st. I won’t bore you with any of the details of the cruise. I have something much less interesting to bore you with (with which to bore …). Whilst (while) aboard the ship (big boat), my debit card became mysteriously unusable (as opposed to clearly unusable). I figured, “Well, the Visa people don’t know I’m in Mexico, even though I purchased the cruise and everything on the same debit card. Ok, I’ll straighten it out when I get back home, because right now I’m needed on The Promenade Deck for a thrilling game of 70’s TV trivia.”
When I went to the bank a few days later, I found that my card information had been stolen from a vending machine at work. Well, sort of.
Work recently put an aisle of a convenience store along one of the walls of the cafeteria/break room. All the vending machines were replaced with refrigerators and junk food shelves. There is an evil little self checkout device at the end of the aisle that steals your debit card information and runs off to Argentina and Paris trying to make really big purchases.
At least that’s what happened to me. While I was on my cruise, this little machine was stealing my identity.
Ok, no big deal. Nothing actually went through. Presumably because the device is only about 4 feet tall and its signature didn’t match mine.
The problem happened later on when some of the monthly bills I pay that are taken directly from the debit card started not getting paid. Oops. I probably should have thought about that.
Actually, the only one was Cox Communications. Because they insist on using a credit card instead of taking the cash out of a checking account. Probably because no one in their right mind keeps enough cash in their checking account to pay the Cox bill.
So the cable bill for November didn’t get paid. Cox was pretty cool about it. They didn’t even mention it. Not until they called on December 8th to explain that 2 months were due. “Oh yeah, sorry about that. What do I owe you?”
“For 2 months?”
“I mean I get that its $242 per month, but $484 for 2 months sounds a little steep.”
"We (Cox) would like to mention that we noticed that you don’t have the Cinemax package which gives you 23 channels of Cinemax for just $5.99 a month (for 6 months). And if you decide to keep it after that, just do nothing (you won’t be able to afford to do anything anyway) and the you’ll still receive all that great entertainment for a few (37) pennies a day more."
“Hang on, let me get my calculator …”
“Ok, well I don’t want Cinemax.”
"Yeah, that’s cool, could we get a credit card number from you?"
“Are you guys related to the machine at work?”
"No. Umm, that reminds us, what’s the available line on that card?"
So that’s how it all started. I was in denial about the cost of cable TV. It took a brave little machine trying to steal from me to show me where the real crime was.
I’m not blaming Cox for any of this. They never misrepresented the cost (just the value) of their service.
So after about 4 weeks of muttering “484” to myself on my way to work, My wife and I did an informal feasibility study. Through considerable analysis and repeatedly saying “484”, we decided to dump cable and invest in Reynolds. They make aluminum foil. You see, back in the day … Oh never mind.
We decided to move forward as of Thursday January 13th. Last Saturday, January 22nd, after some pretty good OTA test results, I returned the boxes to Cox, who asked me if I would be interested in their new wireless (phone) service. I told them I didn’t need HBO/Showtime/Starz on my phone. Aww, Cox. You’re nothing if not salesy.
We will see how well it works in the long run. I have informed Cox not to let me get cable again no matter how much I beg. They assured me that I could “Upgrade” my internet speed from “blazing fast” to “fucking blazing fast” for just $6.99 a month for 5 months, after which time …
I had to stop them and ask them to tell my neighbors about this great offer because they (my neighbors) don’t seem to know how to put a password on their routers.
Next blog (in a day or 2, really): Buying an antenna.