Comcastic: Having the Xfinity X1 Installed and Living to Tell About It
I have Comcast at my house. I know, I know. It wasn't my first choice, but it was all I could have at my previous abode and I like CSN Houston. Plus, I'm a masochist.
If even these guys couldn't help me, Houston, I did have a problem.
For the most part, my Comcast service has been solid since I bought a new house and moved last summer. I don't complain too much, so maybe that's it, or maybe it is actually decent. Whatever the case, I rarely have to deal with customer support, so that's good, I guess.
Since Xfinity took over programming for Comcast's television division, there have been marked improvements in technology as well. The X1 is the latest of those changes, a significantly upgraded DVR set-top box with improved menus and an app-like interface that has received rave reviews from geeks who write about such things. It doesn't cost any more per month, but allows the recording of four shows at once and the playback of those shows on any of the satellite boxes you can scatter around your home. You can even talk into an app and it obeys you like freaking Hal, but without the attitude and the "Now, I'm going to kill you, Dave" thing.
I was on the road to a brand-new experience in TV watching that was wholly different from me parked on my ass on the sofa watching DVR'ed episodes of Game of Thrones. Now I also watch those shows from my guest bedroom! To quote The Jeffersons, "Movin' on uuup!"
This sounded like a great idea...until I had to get it installed.
According to the person who signed me up for this magical new platform, the install normally takes about three hours. Seemed reasonable enough given that the setup procedures for these boxes are so complicated; it wouldn't shock me if Gary Sinise's character from Apollo 13 showed up to help with the reboot sequence.
Comcast hires independent contractors to do installs. For the most part, this is good because it means they don't work directly for a monolithic, blood-sucking corporation. On the other hand, it's hard to know exactly what you will get when they show up. In my case, I got lucky. My installer was a nice guy and seemed to be good at his gig.
After installing a signal booster in my attic (or maybe an FBI listening device), he asked, "Where do you want your main DVR boxes and your three satellite boxes?" At the risk of over-referencing Apollo 13, "Gentlemen, I think we just had our glitch for the mission." See, I only needed two extra boxes. That really is a gluttonous number of cable boxes, but how am I supposed to enjoy watching reality shows comfortably if I can't have a damn box out by my swimming pool? What is this, the dark ages?
One call to customer service by my personal Ken Mattingly -- Sinise's character's name; try to keep up -- and all was resolved, or so I hoped.
During the install, my Internet was down. I couldn't do any work or surf porn or anything. I just had to sit there and try not to bother Ken too much while he was working. What did people do before the Internet? Read? Pfft.
The main DVR box installed, Ken was zooming along toward completion when the first satellite box wouldn't boot up properly. He called customer service -- the same number we peons call, ironically -- and spent nearly an hour trying to figure it out. Ken was frustrated. I was frustrated. The WORLD was frustrated.
Finally, the line went dead. "They hung up on me!" Ken said, startled.