Update on Discontentment

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 11:32 PM

Charter has another hour to come up with a reasonable solution for me. I'm irritated enough that I might call up SBC and see if they will work out a deal for me (they resell Dish, and I already have a Cingular phone, so I might be able to get everything through them). Then I could yank the Charter telephone service and internet as well. As a whole, Charter has been very good to me in the past, but selling a DVR that will not work right until May without warning me is not only dishonest, but also idiotic, since I don't see anyone agreeing to keep it. Also sending two completely useless subcontractors to install the system was very annoying.

Just to be clear, Charter offered me an amazing deal, so keeping the DISH does not benefit me financially. As I noted in the comments, I'd get all of the public service channels, a bunch of extended basic channels that only show up in DISH's top package, the digital HDTV broadcasts and all of the movie channels I don't need for the same price as the DISH America's Top 120 package. This is a really good deal, if it worked right, and makes Charter almost $40 cheaper per month than DISH if I actually wanted all of those features enough to buy them (I don't want them that bad, but I'll take them if I can get them for “free”). In May, like I said, Charter will begin “Simultrans” (“All Digital”) which will move digital cable customers to a 100% digital signal like the satellite customers have. Moreover, unlike satellite, cablecos will be offering CableCards, which means in a year or two, you will be able to buy a TiVo on your own and it will be able to tune digital cable — that's a lot nicer than been locked into the provider's set-top box.

Despite all of this, DISH Network has been very good at customer service over the past year and a half. They've also been fairly reasonable in price and their 100 hour DVR works very nicely — it may not have as nice of interface as the GNU/Linux-based Moxi box offered by Charter, but having 100 hours of storage is a treat. I've recorded hours of political events from C-SPAN, thanks to the huge capacity of the DVR. What I think I will do is try to talk DISH into giving me one of their new dual tuner DVR's (i.e. where you can record something while tuning in something else) and call it quits with Charter for now.

Sure, I won't get the local weather on the Weather Channel, I won't have the public service stations I wanted, I won't have all the movie channels I don't need, and won't have some other channels… but given that it is extremely unusual for me to watch an hour of TV on an average day (I average about a half hour or less unless their is something newsworthy enough to warrant watching CNN), it just isn't worth the hassle. The new Charter All Digital service will again make cable TV superior to satellites in so many ways, but keeping a sub-par system for month and a half interim isn't worth it.


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