April 1, 2006

The strangest thing happened to me yesterday, and I’m still trying to figure out what the heck I got myself into. Since Tracey and I recently purchased one of those new-fangled, 42″ DLP televisions capable of everything – you know, HD, radar, sonar, the works – we decided to ditch Cox cable and go with Direct TV. This being the Internet age, I got a local provider by simply typing in “Direct TV Phoenix” on Yahoo! – simple, right? – picking out a link, calling the number, going through the usual “1 if by English, 2 if by Spanish” mumbo-jumbo until I can get a human being on the other end of the line. When I finally do, it turns out to be a very pleasant woman named Nancy, and I proceed to tell her I wish to schedule a Direct TV install in 2 days’ time.

“No problem”, she says. She then proceeds to take all my information and tell me the hot new deals, like how I can get x number of channels for y number of dollars. “Oh”, she says, “and we’re giving away free a camcorder to all those who sign up for this deal.” Great, I tell her, I just want to make sure you guys carry NESN (New England Sports Network), because I want the luxury of viewing my beloved Red Sox whenever the wacko time zone differences (3 hours starting this weekend) allow me to.

“No problem”, she says. “My name is Nancy, your confirmation number is 023018A, and Daniel will be out the next day.” Great, I think to myself, that was easy – almost too damned easy.

Two days later, sure as shoot, Daniel arrives within the exact time window Nancy gave me. We go over the hardware he’s going to install and how he’s going to install it, so things are looking mighty fine. An hour later, he’s ready to boot the receiver and program in my order. I look at the TV. “Wait a second”, I say – that screen says “Dish Network, I ordered Direct TV”. “No sir”, he says confidently, “I have your work order right here, and I’m to program in your Dish Network programming right now for you.”

“But wait”, I say, “I have the number I called the other day, and I’ll just talk to Nancy. After all, she did say if there were any questions I could call her at this number.” So, I call the number and who do I get? No, not Nancy – it’s Orlando, who tells me that I’ve reached Dish Network, and there’s no one there named Nancy. “That can’t be”, I tell him, “I ordered a Direct TV install from Nancy at this number just the other day, and I have the confirmation number to prove it, which I read to him. “Impossible”, he says, “that’s not a confirmation number, there is no Nancy here, and we don’t do Direct TV. Have a pleasant day.”

I end the call, and there’s Daniel, staring at me like I’m wearing a tinfoil hat. “OK”, I tell him, “who are you, and what have you done with my Direct TV? Pull the system.” This triggers a flurry of calls between Daniel (who just wants to avoid having to pull every danged piece of hardware he’s just slaved over for the past hour), his supervisor (who is pulling subscription numbers and channels out of his butt trying to convince me the Dish Network hardware and its programming is a great deal), and HIS boss (I figure by now I’m somewhere near the Condoleezza Rice level at Dish Network corporate), crunching numbers with me to assure me my Dish Network programming is comparable to Direct TV. “You want your NESN?”, he asks, “I’ll give you your NESN for $5.95 a month, plus, I’ll toss in 20 – count ’em, 20 – major metropolitan sports channels for free. That’s more than 150 channels right there. How’s that sound?”

“But you don’t understand”, I say, “I just want to know how the hell I ordered Direct TV and got Dish Network. I’m freakin’ out here. What do I tell my wife?”

Well, in the end, me and the boss’ boss work out a deal: he says if I can figure out how I ordered Direct TV and got Dish Network within the next 72 hours, he’ll pull my system and refund all my money. If, however, I want to keep it as installed, he’ll give me my first two months of service (including NESN) free. “OK, fine”, I say. Sighs of relief all around. The boss’ boss is happy, Daniel’s boss is happy, and Daniel just wants to get the hell out of here and get to his next install job.

Now here’s where things get strange: The house is quiet, and, my head spinning and hands shaking, I make myself a boat drink, hop on the computer, and retrace my exact steps from the other day. Same links, same web pages, same numbers. I call the number Nancy gave me again, I again get Orlando. No dice there. All of a sudden, an idea pops into my head. “Wait a second”, I say to myself, I know how to confirm what I ordered – I put the install on my credit card, so I’ll just go online and check my account for recent purchases. I’m feeling good now, knowing I’ll finally have the proof to show those Dish Network doubters I know of what I speak. I bring my account up, find the transaction, and there it is, staring me straight in the face:


Me, Nancy, Orlando, Daniel, Daniel’s boss, and Daniel’s boss’ boss: six strangers brought together on one ordinary spring day to dance a different tune played on different stages, linked by one common purpose: to drive The Great White Shank bonkers. Keep in mind, I am not one prone to “grassy knoll” conspiracy theories, yet, I have to admit this one is, and I guess always will be, a head-scratcher for the ages. I replay the converstaions back in my head, and I still can’t figure out what the hell happened. And know I probably never will.

Oh, by the way, our Dish Network is a hoot, and so is my NESN. See you at the ballpark.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:28 | Comments (3)
  1. FWIW, if you decide Dish isn’t for you, DirecTV is 1-800-DIRECTV. I’ve been a DirecTV subscriber since it came out (It was the only TV I could get at CrabAppleLane at the time but now you would have to pry it from my cold, dead fingers to get me to switch to cable). I got MLB’s Extra Innings and the NFL Sunday Ticket every season until last year. Haven’t decided on this season yet.

    Comment by Rob — April 1, 2006 @ 8:49 am

  2. Thanks Rob. We’re still working our way through a few ghurkins that appear to have invaded the spare bedrooms receiver. Always good to know for future reference!

    And….sorry about those Tigers. They gave it a good run, though. All you can ask.

    Comment by The Great White Shank — April 3, 2006 @ 12:50 pm

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