Okay, so I’m not immune to poor puns and vaguely offensive clickbait titles. And if you’re some random web surfer who was looking forward to enjoying some good old-fashioned rough porn and your search engine brought you here — sorry (though you really do need to learn how to spell better).
The real title should be “How I Hate the Thieving Bastards at Cox Communications” except it doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as well.
Anyway, Cox Communications gets my blood boiling. And that’s something you have to work hard at to achieve. Really, I’m a simple, low-key man. I’ll sign up for your company’s service and as long as you deliver on your end and don’t keep jerking me around, I’ll pay in perpetuity with nary a complaint. Ask L.A. Fitness. I only showed up to exercise for three months tops but kept paying for two years. They minded their business; I pretended I was going to work out. Everyone accepted the status quo.
Cox Communications doesn’t work that way. They are the mosquito swarm of the ISP world, constantly buzzing around trying to suck more of your blood when you’re not looking. Always with the monthly bill creeping up with these bastards. Just thinking about having to call them to complain gets my blood pressure up.
Cutting the cord
I used to have Internet and TV with them, but over time, with the constant rate hikes, it started getting too expensive, so I decided I’d cut the cord and subscribe only for Internet service. My contract had already ended so I was month-to-month anyway and free to do away with cable TV. What a great feeling it was turning in my converter and remote at the Cox store. And my bill dropped dramatically.
It was an adjustment. I had my Netflix account and then I signed up for SlingTV, which is an okay service, and they gave me a free Roku device through which to stream to my TV. And I bought an antenna for local channels. Sure, I missed cable TV, but I got over it. In fact, I watched so little television, except for the NFL games not on local TV, that I almost got rid of Sling. The Houseguest took over the monthly bill so she could continue watching all the iterations of the Real Housewives and home flipping shows she’s addicted to. Between Sling, Netflix, and PBS, she’s happy.
And I was happy.
But Cox can never leave well enough alone. Eventually, I noticed my bill incrementally creeping up again. Finally, I called up to bitch and they apologized but said they had to cover rising costs. Hey, I suggested, how about you stop sending out mailers touting your bundled service to every household in the Southwest ten times a month? That should save some cash. They took it under advisement (not really, they politely ignored me). Then they offered me a bundle. But I didn’t’ want a bundle, I said. I just wanted the Internet.
They weren’t trying to lock me into a contract the agent explained. They’d sign me up for some bundle with a wretched add-on service I wouldn’t use but it would drop my bill lower than if I just got Internet service by itself.
“Why can’t you just give me Internet-only for the low price without the added hassle?” I asked.
It doesn’t work that way, they replied.
I sighed and told them to sign me up. My bill dropped but was still a little higher than what it had been when I first cut the cord but below its recent high-water mark. I guess it was a win, but it sure didn’t quite feel like one.
Déjà vu all over again
Six months later, my bill jumped up again. Significantly.
Steamed, I called Cox.
Oh, the agent explained, the last time I’d called, they’d signed me up for a 6-month promotional plan and it had expired. Like a desperate man who doesn’t really want to hurt himself by jumping off a ledge, I threatened to cancel, so the agent consulted with her supervisor. Magically, they gave me a new plan that dropped my rate close to where it had been, just a couple of dollars higher, and my uneasy truce with Cox went back into effect.
Apparently, the truce just expired because when I got my last bill, it had jumped up by $30. Frustrated with the same old song and dance, I called Cox and by the time I got through their automated system, I felt sorry for the poor woman who had to deal with me. She understood my frustration (I imagine she has to say this a lot in her job) and eventually she transferred me through to Cox’s Loyalty desk. These are the wankers whose job it is to reset the hook and reel you back in when it looks like you might actually wriggle free. Basically, it’s a game. Cox knows there’s not a lot of options out there, so they sweeten the deal just enough to keep you around, but not really happy.
A lack of options
In their mind, realistically, where are you going to go? CenturyLink? CenturyLink is the bastard child of Qwest, who I was with when they were in the cell phone business. (Qwest hated me because I had an awesome $29 plan and wouldn’t upgrade or leave — they only got out of that deal by getting out of the cell phone business). You’re paying less because you’re getting DSL technology, which is slower, and their service sucks. I was excited when Google Fiber announced it was coming to town because it’s lightning fast and would introduce real competition. But a year or two ago there was an announcement it was canceling its plans for the Phoenix market (probably political shenanigans — I’m still emotional, sorry).
The upshot is, some weasel on the Loyalty desk got me a new bundle with something called Contour TV thrown in. And instead of $30 a month more, it only cost me $10 more. The guy was super enthusiastic about his achievement and apparently thought I should be super enthusiastic as well with this “win-win” outcome. I wasn’t. Apparently, we had different definitions of win-win. I think the long silence adequately conveyed my feelings on the subject to him. Being ungrateful, I pointed out I was still paying an extra $10 a month after all his help.
The Cox minion tried a new, positive spin and pointed out he was upping my speed from 50mbs to 100mbs, a huge increase. And for only $10 more.
“You have to admit, that’s an awesome deal! Right?”
I passive-aggressively pointed out it was an awesome deal for Cox because they were getting an extra $10 a month from me for something I didn’t’ need. Fifty mps had been more than adequate for my needs.
Realizing I was never going to join him in his happy Cox universe, the Loyalty desk guy basically told me to there was nothing else he could do for me.
I just had to grin and bear it.
So I did.
I should have left well enough alone. But of course, I didn’t.
An unexpected “bonus”
One day last week, for whatever reason, the Houseguest suddenly had unexpected access to the Kardashians. Since I ditched Cox TV, we don’t (Thank God) have access to the E! channel, so it’s been a Kardashian-free household for some time. If you’re surprised the Houseguest likes the Kardashians, join the club. Don’t ask me why she is enamored with this reality TV shit — it’s a mystery. She’s an intelligent woman with a Ph.D. who has an appreciation for a wide range of culturally significant things and does watch quality programming. But as she flipped around the boob tube, one of the Kardashians’ big asses made its way on screen, and the Houseguest practically squealed* with excitement at the prospect of even more trashy TV.
Unfortunately (for her), it was short lived and the next day, no more E! channel and no more Kardashians. What happened? I don’t know. It’s one of those unexplainable mysteries in life. The Houseguest was really disappointed.
I should have left well-enough alone. But I didn’t. Either because I’m a nice guy and felt bad for her or I’m stupid. You pick.
So, I thought maybe it had something to do with Cox. But no, I didn’t have a converter. But it got me to thinking. The Loyalty goon had mentioned some kind of TV bundle with a service called Contour. I even saw a Contour converter box in a Cox ad. Maybe I was overlooking something that would give us more channels. Was I missing a converter box?
So, I took a deep breath, and against my better judgment, I called Cox and asked if I was supposed to have a converter.
No, said the young woman who answered my call. She explained I had a basic version of Contour.
“What does that give me?” I inquired. Apparently 75 channels. Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? Except it isn’t. Turns out they are 75 free shitty channels no one wants to watch, like C-Span and public access. Cox even counted all the free local channels I already get through my antenna as part of their 75-channel offering. If I actually wanted good channels, I’d have to pay for an upgraded bundle.
“Claiming you’re giving me 75 channels sounds oddly deceptive,” I commented. She assured me it wasn’t. So, just out of curiosity, I asked how I watched it online and she said I had to download the app.
“On my PC?” That didn’t make sense.
No, apparently only on a mobile device. And if I wanted to watch some of the channels, I’d have to download the specific app for that station. Wtf? I thought? That didn’t sound right at all.
“What is your app actually good for?” I asked.
Watching things on my mobile phone or tablet apparently. Just not on my TV.
My head figuratively exploded as I thanked her and hung up.
I don’t know if any of what she told me was actually true because I just saw you can sign into Cox TV online. I have a feeling I don’t have Contour TV but a starter package. One thing I’ve discovered about companies is that the lower-level people usually don’t know what the hell they’re talking about and just cause more confusion. Welcome to the modern world.
The upshot was, no Kardashians for the Houseguest (kind of a bonus for me), but I was back to being mad that Cox had “lowered” my bill so I was only paying an additional $10 a month for some crappy TV service that no one would ever pay for anyway.
So now I wait — until this deal ends and we have to go through this madness again.
*The Houseguest would like to dispute the assertion that she “practically squealed” and believes it mischaracterizes her and diminishes her good name. I pointed out I don’t actually use her name.