Friday, February 29, 2008

Choice Cable's scam

At the beginning of this month I finally purchased a new plasma TV, for which I forgo - for a while - buying a regular bed.

There is only one cable company operating here - and on most of the island - Choice Cable - a monopolist, whose bad service and bad attitude towards their clients I already had an "opportunity" to experience, since it provides internet connection to the institute I have been working for.

Yet, I wanted TV, so it was ither the cable monopolist or a satellite antenna, and I did not want to be bothered with an antenna. So I called Choice Cable. To my - nice - surprise - the lady who took my call spoke English (was she in India, perhaps?) , gave me all information I wanted and took my order, quoting prices, in detail, $25 for installation, $ 8 or so for a compulsory box, etc. etc. Then they totalled everything nicely - $114.85 including installation - and told me that an installation guy would come next afternoon, between 1 pm and 5 pm. Ok, I agreed.

Next morning, just as I was in a hurry to back my car out on the road to drive to work, a white van blocked my path. It was an installation guy - not at the time agreed, but half a day earlier. It was not a convenient time for me, but, since "on island time" usually means a delay, often a substantial delay, I let him install the cable right then, after he assured me it would not take long.

He was very friendly and seemed very professional. He also had with him a preprinted installation order, which he took out of his pocket and gave to me when he was ready. The installation took much longer than what he estimated it would: he walked on the house roof, went to check something on the electric pole, back on the roof, etc. etc.

It distracted me sufficiently to have a "blond moment" and a "senior moment" rolled into one: I looked briefly at the content of the statement: all the services promised were there and the total was exactly as quoted. So I signed the paper, gave him a check and forgot all about it.

Until a week ago a cable bill arrived. It acknowledged my payment of $114.85 and demanded another $75 + change. It specified that I paid $99 for installation $ 8 for the box and some fee, but not for the first month of services.

I checked with the sheet I got from the installation guy. Sure enough: it listed services, but only in the first column, not in the billing column. Thus I have - so far - been scammed for $74 difference between quoted installation and the one listed on the billing sheet.

If the installation guy had not arrived with the preprinted - scam - billing sheet, I might have been angry that he failed to tell me that the installation for some reason would cost almost four times as much as I was quoted a day before, but would not suspect it being a premeditade scam by Choice Cable. Bait and switch!

I am going to call them and complain. True, I have no proof of what she quoted me, since I did not record a phone conversation. But I can do a bait and switch on them and catch them trying to scam another customer - recording a conversation. And, of course, blast them here - may be it will help other potential victims of Choice Cable to be better prepared, knowing that they deal with scammers.


Anonymous said...

I would have liked to have received Choice cable for my Internet. Right now we pay about $65 a month for 256 - 512K wireless with Sprint. It works well but really? 65$ a month! Ouch. Choice said they were $25/month. The bundle of Internet and cable with a DVR was pricey. There DVR service is more than Direct TV. Choice also said many times that they could give me cable but when a person came to install it it was clear. No cable for you (unless you want to pay thousands to bring a line in). So after weeks of delay going without Internet or tv I had to find other solutions. My signal hasn't gone out that we have noticed during heavy rain. The DVR sucks. It's not Tivo but it gets most things right. I like tv and have 20 or 30 shows I like to watch. With Tivo I never missed one. The DVR service from Direct TV (Latin) is poor. It looks like someone manually types in the programming guide and doesn't keep it up to date! And I think they are lazy some times and all they put in the programming guide is the networks call letters and what kind of programing the network carries. I tried calling three times to complain but NEVER got through to a customer service person. Sure, sales answers their phone and tries to connect you to service but no one answers.

Good Luck


Minerva said...

Uuh, this puts things in perspective for me, lol. I guess I better enjoy what I have now, since in two weeks I am moving to the mountains, where cell phones don't work (other than, perhaps, Claro through internet, a friend from Las Marias told me), but an organization (Eye on the Rainforest) high up in the rain forest has a high speed internet. I have rented a casita on a slope, accessible only by a 4x4 with a good driver (= not by me, I am afraid, I'll have to park half a mile down the road and walk the rest of the road to the cabin), so I guess there will be no cable there, although my future landlord receives frequent invitations from Choice Cable (she did not entartain them - she has no TV). All her neighbors use Direct TV and I wonder what this will be like. My current neighbor - a computer programmer by profession - tells me I will be able to use my new entertainment computer as a Tivo/DVR and - since I am not technologically au courant - promised to drop in one rainy day and show me how. Thanks heavens for good friends and good neighbors!