Adding a Converter Box to Basic Cable – TWC

Okay dokey!

Our cable company Time Warner Cable has decided to go all digital, which means that all of us subscribers who only have basic cable have to get a cable converter box to be able to even view anything on our TV screen and they won’t charge us the extra (for now) ninety-nine cents per month that we have pay for something that I really didn’t care about having until 2014 if I read everything correctly.

I just hate being told that services that I have to pay for are being mandatorily upgraded and I have have to do the upgrade and either go to the TWC office or fill out a request to have one mailed to you.  Then you have to do the work of installing the equipment for the upgrade.  While it isn’t all that difficult to connect the converter, if it doesn’t work right it will take some time out of your day to get things working right.

I must be getting old and crotchety to think that having to install equipment for a large corporation to do their upgrade to my service is an inconvenience.  I guess that I am.

This change to digital cable takes place on 19th and I am willing to bet that more than a few people who have basic cable in our area are going to turn on their TV at some point that day and find out that they no longer have a picture.  That will sure shock them and make more than a few hyperventilate or get really pissed at the cable company.  Even though TWC has tried to publicize the change for quite a while I can there will be a bunch that don’t listen – hell I would probably be in that boat if not for the wife.  The wife figured out that we were going to have to do it and the she made sure that I would do it.

The Process

So we picked up the new converter on Tuesday and I  – with a “little” reminder from the wife – she is so subtle sometimes ;-), I got around to figuring out how to do it.  Just undo cable from TV, put cable from wall into converter in, add cable to converter out to TV and then plug in.  Turn TV to Channel 3. So far really easy.

Next call or go online to have cable company do the activation ping, then wait 5-20 minutes (depending on how busy they are), if nothing happens call back.

Houston – We have a Problem

Guess what – Nothing happened.

Being more on the geeky side and knowing that calling cable company would result in a long-time on hold listening to bad music and their advertising of more of their services, I went ahead and tried the re-ping through cable company’s website (guess what didn’t work there either).  Tried the chat, but had to install Java and for some reason, just didn’t want to start up.  So I gave up on that good idea

Getting a little stressed, I got out the rice sticks – when I get stressed, I start to eat, but I tried to be healthy or at least sort of for a change.  I don’t know why calling a company’s Customer Service Department for a problem with their stuff, should stress me out, but it does.

Making the Call

Time to call cable company (I was also waiting for phone call about truck which is in for repair, so I really didn’t want to be on the phone forever – added stress), my prediction for a long hold came true it was almost 20 minutes before I was able to talk with a Customer Service Representative by the name of Heidi (who was very good).  She then asked me to double-check the connections, they were correct (I had tripled-checked them before I called, but I was obedient for a change and didn’t respond with a sarcastic or caustic remark that I really wanted to do) after a couple more minutes of snow, the screen turned black.  Heidi asked me to unplug the converter, wait 10 seconds, and plug it back in.

Surprise, surprise I had a warning on the screen that there was a problem and I needed to call Customer Serverice – No Shit Sherlock, that was I was on the phone with Customer Service.  Oh well that was a good sign according to Heidi, that meant that the converter was talking to the computer at their place.  No I was nice and wasn’t sarcastic to her, just us here. Okay, she said to wait another couple of minutes and low and behold there was a picture.

I told her thanks for her help and she offered to walk me through setting up the new remote (I only have had 6 remotes for the damn TV) and said no thanks having been on the phone long enough and I think I can handle this part.  It took more than a couple of tries to get the remote so it worked right – I even had to stop and read the directions to get it to work, but the remote is working fine now too.

Heidi did a great job of being patient with me and even laughed at a couple of my bad jokes.  I am sure she has heard all of them by now, but hey that is part of being a CSR.  Thanks Heidi

Okay so it was not all that bad to setup the “upgrade”, just time consuming and a pain in the butt.

We now have Digital Cable

So we now have digital cable for our basic cable service.  Which is nice, but it was an inconvenience to get there and I was very satisfied with the regular look without an extra cable box – hell I could actually use the remote that came with the TV, which was nice!

Now I have to use my cable provided one along with the DVD, plus the TV’s original one to make everything work from my seat.  Ain’t life grand, actually you have to use the remote to change the channel, there is no manual channel changer on the converter box.

How long did it take?

Now let’s see it took me about an hour to complete this “upgrade” out of my busy schedule, which is worth what? Oh well guess I can’t bitch about it too much the picture quality is better, but I still like to bitch about it.

Are you Tech Literate?

Also I am reasonably sure I am fairly tech literate compared to most people out there, so how is this conversion going to be for those who are not very tech savvy?  It is going to be a little intimidating for some of those out there.  If you have a parent or someone else you know who is not quite so tech savvy as you are or is intimidated by this kind of stuff, go ahead and give them a hand, they will appreciate it.

You better make sure you have it done

If you have not yet prepared for TWC’s upgrade to digital cable and only have basic cable without one of their converters, you better start thinking about what you are going to do on the 19th when you no longer have a picture, but are still paying for basic cable.

No in the long run I think that having digital picture on the TV is nicer than what I had before and Time Warner Cable is doing the right thing by upgrading to digital, but couldn’t there have been a way to not have a damn converter box between my TV and the connection – after all it is digital ready?  But it gave me something to blog and whine about this afternoon, so I am good to go and yes the picture looks pretty damn fine.