The Winter of Our Discontent

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 5:29 AM

It may be spring now, but you sure couldn't tell it using the new Moxi DVR box that Charter Communications installed today in the process of bringing me into their digital cable fold. It was not snowing outside, but it the Moxi was producing plenty of the white stuff on the TV. After dealing futilely with the installer/subcontractor (why do dish and cable companies always use idiotic subcontractors?), I called support, complained about the installer and proceeded in noting that the cable with or without the Moxi was snowy. They re-dispatched the installer, who called and said he could not make it back today but suggested we circumvent the Moxi box, which I promptly noted would not fix the problem (and for that matter, why pay for a DVR and then circumvent it — that's silly). The installer also noted that everything would have to be digital in time for the HDTV switchover in a year or two — so I'd only have to wait until then for everything to look fine. Yes, that sounds like a good solution!

So, I called Charter again and after finally reaching the point where I started to become a raving lunatic and threatened to throw their equipment out on the porch, they agreed to escalate the issue and get a real tech out today rather than making me wait around again. The tech came and said that they needed a line tech to come and boost the main cable box's amplifier. The line techs came later this evening and did just that, which fixes pure analog signals, but everything still looks horrible through the Moxi. As it turns out, these techs admitted that there is a known hardware problem, apparently with all Moxi boxes, that causes snow on all channels below 99 (i.e. almost everything interesting). There are two possible solutions: they will replace the boxes in the future and/or they will be going all digital on or before May 15, moving all of the channels to places above 99.

I have one final card to play, because I'm not inclined to keep a sub-par system for two months when Dish looks just fine: the one line tech gave me the name of one of the higher ups at Charter, who will, at the least discontinue the service for me. I'm hoping they might be willing to just waive the monthly fee until the problem is fixed in May, but I'm guessing that won't happen and if they won't do that, I shall just renew Dish for another month and forget about going to cable.

At any rate, I'm irritated that Charter did not disclose this problem prior to ordering the service (complete with a 1 year contract — although I have signed nothing and am suppose to have 30-days to opt out). Apparently, the sales people are suppose to disclose the issue, but did not. Lying will get you into someplace, but when it is so blatant, it doesn't last. Who in their right mind would keep a box that corrupts and deforms TV more than anything else? Dish may just prove to be the Richmond to Charter's Richard III.

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