Actually, he was a tech sub-contracted by the tech contracted by my cable company. The contracted tech was on vacation.
Upon arriving, the tech looked at the flashing Cable light on the modem, he said, “This is easy; somebody accidentally disconnected you.” I said that it might have been nice if someone had figured that out nineteen days sooner. Ignoring that, he headed out the door saying, “I’ll be right back.”
After a few minutes he came back and said, “Well that ain’t it.”
He then proceeded to spend about forty-five minutes going back and forth from my bedroom down to wherever everything is hooked up, moving me from one port to the next, and occasionally pinging someone on his Nextel.
After a while he began tinkering with the cable outlets themselves, at one pint, I noted, actually knocking out my TV service. He mentioned that I probably shouldn’t have been working in the first place, as the cable outlet was wired incorrectly.
Even after fixing the wiring, though, the Cable light continued its petulant flashing.
Eventually he said that, having eliminated all other possibilities, it seemed that the problem was with my modem.
Naturally he didn’t have a replacement modem with him, because why would he? I mean, it’s not like he’s a technician for a cable company or any– oh, right.
Still, he didn’t have one, and said that the very soonest I could get a new one would be Monday, and even that was iffy.
It was at that point that the cable tech became witness to a Jon Explosion, and actually flinched away from the stream of invectives that came bursting forth from me. He could do nothing but nod his head in startled, sympathetic agreement at words like “worst fucking company I’ve ever had the misfortune of dealing with” and “lying sons of bitches” and “absolute fucking morons.”
And so he left – having fixed whatever he’d done to the TV and checking to make sure it was working, without me having to tell him to do so, which surprised me – and telling me that the “Asian guy” who is actually contracted by DirecPath to service my complex would be back on Friday and that he would see if there was anything else that could be done from outside my place.
Friday – today – marks the three-week point from when, upon returning home from work, I discovered that my Cable light was flashing.
And that’s how things stand now: three weeks without Internet service. Three weeks full of lies, misdirection, and a complete and utter lack of commitment even to the notion of customer service.
But let’s go back to the beginning, back even before the beginning, so that this particular instance of lousy service can be put into its proper perspective.
When I first arrived in Virginia in 2002, I lived in Ashburn, where my cable service was provided by a company called Adelphia, a company that, I soon learned, was bankrupt.
Despite the bankruptcy, Adelphia provided service that, while not exactly exemplary, was pretty much on par with cable company standards. Further, while I had a few service interruptions over the course of three years, my Internet connection was fairly dependable, and during that time, without an attendant increase in cost, my downstream connection speeds went from an acceptable 1.5 Mbps to an excellent 3-4 Mbps.
In 2006 I bought a condo in Leesburg. It wasn’t until after I’d bought the place that I found out that I would not be getting my cable service from Adelphia, but rather from a company known as MediaWorks.
I’d never heard of MediaWorks, but soon learned that they were a small niche cable company that provided cable services to condo developments and apartment complexes. They had their own cable plant located on the grounds of the complex.
From the start I was less than thrilled. The TV service was poor, as several channels were duplicates of each other, others were mislabeled, and the volume levels varied widely. For example, in order to be able to hear the programming on Comedy Central, I have to turn the volume up to full blast. This can be a heart-stopping problem if I change the channel without first remembering to lower the volume.
Beyond that, they actually receive the programming that is distributed to us via a series of DirecTV and Dish Network satellite dishes, so when it rains the TV goes out. Basically, as MediaWorks customers we received the disadvantages of satellite TV without having access to any of the advantages, such as the on-screen guide, pay-per-view, etc.
What made it worse was that many of the channels would not return even after the rain stopped and everything was dry again. On more than one occasion I had to call in to complain about this in order to get the channels back.
Then there was the matter of my Internet service. While I was paying roughly the same as I’d been paying to Adelphia, with my 3-4 Mbps service, I was only getting a connection speed of about 1 Mbps. Still, it was better than nothing, and so lacking any other real options, decided to just grit my teeth and bear with it, hoping that either MediaWorks would improve their speeds over time – as Adelphia had – or that Verizon’s FiOS would become available.
After nearly a year of spotty TV service and Internet speeds that never got any faster, I was informed that MediaWorks was now DirecPath, the former having been acquired by the latter.
I had hoped that this would bode well and that some improvements would be made.
That hope died when my Internet speed dropped by more than 75%, from a paltry 1 Mbps to an excruciatingly slow 200 Kbps.
I waited it out to see if this was some sort of temporary issue, but after a month it was clear that it was a more permanent issue.
So I called in to complain.
“I have a problem with my Internet speed,” I said. This was greeted with what was clearly a knee-jerk, automatic response that had been drilled into MediaWorks’/DirecPath’s customer service reps: We only offer one megabit!
I sighed and said, “I understand, and at this point I would be happy to get a megabit, but I’m getting speeds that are more than four times lower than that.”
I was transferred to tech support, where I was once again informed, “We only offer one megabit!” I sighed again and explained the situation once more.
I was then told, in direct contradiction to the knee-jerk defense, “We only offer 256 K!”
“That’s impossible,” I said, pointing out that I’d been getting 1 Mbps for over a year.”
I was informed that there was no conceivable manner in which I could have been getting such speeds, and clearly I was either delusional or an outright liar.
Another person I spoke to said that the service they offered was “256 Kbps down, and 1 Mbs up.”
I said, “That’s absurd. No company in its right mind would offer Internet connectivity with that kind of setup.”
“Well, I’m just reading what it says.”
“Then you’re reading it wrong.”
Ultimately, though it was clear that they felt I was a lying troublemaker, or at least wanted me to feel that way about myself, it was agreed that a tech would come out to address the issue of my connection speed (in addition to fixing the three channels that hadn’t come back since the last time it had rained).
No such tech ever showed up, though the channels did get fixed.
I sent in multiple complaints via their online form, with the assurance that “someone” would be in touch with me within 48 hours.
That never happened.
Eventually I discovered that I would be moving within the next few months, so I decided that I would just grit my teeth and deal with the lousy service until it was time to leave.
Of course, it wasn’t until after August 3 that I discovered just how lousy the service could get.
As mentioned, when I got home my Cable light was flashing. I shrugged, figuring it was just an outage that would get resolved overnight or early the next day. At worst, it would be out until Monday.
On Monday I decided that I should call in, just to make sure that it wasn’t just me and that work was being done.
After jumping through various “tech support” hoops that included doing things that I’d already done and being accused of having made changes to my setup even though I’d explained that nothing had been changed by me since I’d set things up over a year and a half earlier, it was decided that I needed to have a tech sent out. The person I spoke to said she would e-mail dispatch and that dispatch would call me.
About a half an hour later I got the call. “Can you be home Wednesday from 8 AM to 6 PM?” A ten hour window? WTF?
I didn’t really want to have to stay home all day and I asked if they could narrow it down a little, like letting me know if it’d be in the morning or the afternoon. “No, it could be anytime within that period; we can’t really say when.”
I sighed and agreed that I would stay home all day, as the alternative – signing a key release – was even less palatable.
So I sat at home all day.
By 4 PM no one had arrived, so I called in and asked what the odds were that anyone would show up within the next two hours. I was assured that someone would.
At 7 PM I called in to report that the tech was a no-show and my Internet was still out. I was assured that maybe the tech had been delayed, but he would complete every job on his docket before calling it a day, and someone from dispatch would call me to give me his ETA.
Thursday I got home, hoping that maybe something had been done in the intervening 24 hours. The light was still flashing. I called in and was told that a tech had been at the property, even though he hadn’t actually stopped by my place. It was determined, I was told, that there was not enough available bandwidth to support the number of users in the complex, and that other people were affected, and that there was no ETR, but it was being worked on.
I gave it a couple of days and called in to check on the progress. No new information had been entered in the notes since the initial notes about bandwidth. The rep said she would e-mail dispatch and they would call me.
Called again, got the same story.
All along, by the way, at least after the second call, I was being assured that I would receive credit for the time I was without service. This was reported to me as if it were not something that should go without saying, and as if it should be enough to satisfy me and assuage any concerns I might have. “Oh, you mean I won’t have to pay for a service I’m not receiving? Consider me mollified! But wait, all things considered, I’d rather be paying for a service and actually receiving it.”
Finally, on the 18th day of my outage, my patience had reached its limit.
“My patience has reached its limit,” I said to the customer service rep.
It was at this point that I leaned that I’d been lied to: there was no widespread outage involving a lack of bandwidth, and no one was actually working to fix my problem.
And that was when another tech was scheduled to come out, with the instructions that he was not to leave until my problem was fixed.
Further, the rep was going to call me back on Thursday to verify that everything was working.
You know how things worked out with that tech, and it’s a good thing I didn’t hold my breath waiting for that call.
And that brings us up to date.
I have to say that, without question, the service I’ve received from MediaWorks/DirecPath is the absolute worst I’ve ever received.
The whole point of this entry is an attempt to mobilize a campaign of DirecPath
I know that several people have come to this blog and read my earlier posts on this topic (The search string leading them here? DirecPath Sucks.), and one of them has left a comment documenting yet another instance of DirecPath absolutely failing as a provider of quality cable services.
I would encourage others to share their experiences in the comments. You can do so anonymously, and while I recognize that the anti-spam word verification can be a bit of a pain, it shouldn’t be an insurmountable obstacle to you sharing your frustration with me and the others (and there must be a lot of others) who have suffered as a result of DirecPath’s “service.”
I’m fortunate enough that within a month I will be out from under DirecPath’s dead weight, but I still want to make sure that they’re taken to task for their non-existent commitment to providing quality service to their customers, to discourage any apartment complexes or condo developments who are thinking about signing a deal with DirecPath, and encouraging those that have signed up with them to reconsider. Every little piece of ammunition you can provide is greatly appreciated.
On a final note, in order to use their online payment services, I still have to use DirecPath’s legacy MediaWorks site.
If I go to the DirecPath site, there is a form into which you can enter your Zip code to find out if you are in a DirecPath residence. When I enter my Zip code it tells me “Sorry, your area is not currently being serviced by DIRECPATH.”
You can say that again.