JOANNA ELM, Author, Journalist, Attorney

News Squib#9- Are You Stupid, Cablevision ? Or Is It Moi?


Extra News TodayIt’s Squib Saturday. Time to share the best, most interesting (or most entertaining, or most outrageous) tidbit of information I’ve gleaned from all the stuff I’ve read this week. Today: Quelle Horreur! My Internet and Cable Tv Company Was Bought by the French. This is What Happened Next


I was too wrapped up in Election 2016 to pay much attention to a nugget of local news, namely that Altice, a European telecom corporation, snapped up Cablevision, my cable tv and internet provider in July for $17.7 billion. So, while I knew the company and its service arm Optimum had been sold,  I had no details about the deal.

Monsieur Cheapskate


For example, I had no idea that Altice owner, French billionaire Patrick Drahi, is apparently a bit of a “hard-nosed cheapskate,” and has reportedly stated on the record: “I don’t like to pay salaries.” Nor did I know that he had started laying off (the highest paid) employees and introducing draconian cost-cutting measures as soon as the deal for Cablevision was signed.

All Systems Failure

However, this is the service I got when, at around 1.30pm last Saturday afternoon, I noticed that there was no internet connection on my ipad, or desktop computer:

My call to the Optimum offices was answered pretty quickly, but by an automated voice which asked me to describe the problem I was having.  “No internet connection” the Voice (a female one) declared. “If that’s correct, say, continue.” Eventually, it asked me whether I felt “comfortable enough” to troubleshoot the problem with her, or if I needed to speak to someone in technical support.

On Hold

Wireless Modem Router Network Hub With Cable ConnectI chose to speak to a technician, was informed that Optimum was experiencing “high call volume” and  so I waited. And waited, listening to a looped message telling me I could pay my bill online.  Approximately 12 minutes later, a real live male spoke to me, and asked me if I could go to my modem. To do this I had to go downstairs, into the garage and stand up on a chair to reach the modem (Don’t ask.)

“Take your time,” said Rick (or was it Greg?) “Just let me know when you’re ready to continue.” By the time I was ready to continue, I noticed the call had ended. I had been on the call about 15 minutes by that time.

I had no option but to call again. Only this time, as soon as the automated voice asked me if I felt comfortable enough to troubleshoot the problem with her, I decided to give it a shot. The Voice actually was pretty cool. It told me to find my modem … unplug it from the power supply. Then, to reconnect it. The Voice instructed me to say “Continue” after I completed each step.

No Signal

Finally, I was told to wait while Optimum sent a signal to my modem, and then I was instructed to check my internet connections. I trekked back upstairs to my desktop computer even though I could tell from the blinking light on my lower level security camera that I had not recovered my Wi-fi connection. When I told the Voice this, it asked if I wanted to speak to a technician, I said, “Yes.”

55b282c1a21df6e5-sqt-19f6ql59f5n8ga6cSure enough, I was then informed I would be on hold another 12-17 minutes. And, sure enough it was approximately 12 minutes before a real live male came on the line. Greg (or was it Rick?) said he could see the signal to my modem being picked up, and then being dropped. He then told me I needed to make an appointment for a technician to come to my home to fix my modem.


“Really? Is that necessary? Are you sure you can’t try again with the signal?” I distinctly remembered a savvy Optimum technician months previously fixing a wi-fi connection problem in seconds without mentioning house calls.   So, we tried again.  No go.

Then he asked: “Is Channel 12 (the Cablevision news channel) working on your TV?”

I said I would go back upstairs to check. Whereupon, I was able to tell him that, no, the TV screen was black except for a message that said something to the effect that the channel I was trying to access was temporarily unavailable. I read him the message.

“Oh, said Rick (or Greg). Then, there was a pause. By this time I had been on the phone holding, and trying to fix my modem problem for a total of about 45 minutes.

Beyond MY Control

And, dear Readers, you know what’s coming next, right? The problem, as it turned out, wasn’t with my modem. “There is an outage in your area,” said Rick (or Greg), “crews are probably working on it right now to fix it.”

alticeI had to take a deep breath to stop myself from screaming  before I asked the real live male technician to check what time the outage might be fixed, and before I informed him that Cablevision/Altice must be the “stupidest, most time-wasting company in the whole entire total universe.”

Yes, I told him, even  much-maligned Comcast who is our internet and cable TV provider in Florida, has an automated message for consumers who call in to report a wi-fi problem when the fault lies with an area outage. I hung up having spent almost one hour trying to fix a problem that wasn’t mine to fix.

Okay, next time, I’ll check the TV first. But, I believe that a knowledgeable, commensurately-paid techie would have asked the question before wasting a customer’s — and the company’s –time.

What’s French for “this shit won’t fly in New York, Monsieur Cheapskate!”


Photo Credits: ; Altice











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