Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Getting back your TV isn't as easy as it seems

I promised myself – and especially I promised lady of the house – that I would never again become angry when I turned on a TV channel while sitting at the dining room table and no picture came on.
I railed about this subject in print a few weeks ago. I have grown accustomed to the nefarious situation by now. I realize that Time Warner was financially motivated to cut down dramatically on the number of channels that homeowners can receive unless they have digital capacity and not just analog reception.
So I decided to take action – something I often do when backed into a corner with no escape in sight.
On the TV screen it said: “Get Your TV Back.”
Below that it said: “This channel is only available in digital format. (It was available before without digital, but no more.) Order your digital adapter today. 1-855-286-1736.”
So I dialed that number. Before long a man answered. He wanted to know my area code and my phone number. I told him.
After a brief pause, he said, “Hello, Mr. CAW LINZ.
I knew immediately I was talking to someone from Bombay or possibly Rangoon.
I have nothing against people from India. I have dealt with them before on matters having to do with the computer. They are polite and very nice. But they always call me Mr. CAW LINZ. The way they pronounce my name is a dead giveaway.
I told him, in the words of Time Warner, I want my TV back. I said we have one big TV that is digital on which I can watch golf, Cubs games, the Mayor’s Report from Dave Anderson or almost anything I wish, but we have a bunch of smaller TVs all over the house and they, unfortunately, are not digital.
He told me he could send only four converters. I said that would be a good start.
“Are they easy to hook-up?” I asked.
“Oh yes, Mr. CAW LINZ,” he fibbed. “Anyone can hook them up. All you have to do is connect a wire.”
I promised I would give it a try.
If he had said, “Any idiot can hook them up,” at least I would have felt he was being more straightforward
A few days later, Dave the mailman brought a single cardboard box. It was 9 inches by 6 inches and 3 inches deep. “There can’t possibly be four converters in there,” I thought.
I was right. I dumped the contents on the dining room table. Among the tangle of plastic packages there was what appeared to be a converter box. It is tiny – 4 1/2 inches by 3 inches and an inch thick. Comparing it in size to the converter on the big set in the living room, I would guess it is – well, I can’t even guess. The big one is enormous, the new one is miniscule.
And they still owe me three more converters. But I haven’t wired the new one to the dining room TV yet.
Here is my inventory of what I found: A converter box (very small), one large white cable, one small black cable that looks like it plugs in somewhere, one much larger black cable that also looks like it plugs in somewhere, one black gadget with one end that looks like it plugs into the AC outlet on the wall, one remote control (we must have three dozen of them, maybe this one will open the garage door), two of the tiniest batteries I have ever seen, and, finally, two small Velcro pads.
There is also a book that says, “Say hello to your TV’s new best friend.”
It is a 14-page book of instructions on how to hook up my new adapter. On Page 3 there are pictures of eight things that are included in the package.
Some of the objects I couldn’t figure out included a coax cable, an HDMI (?) cable, a power cord, a receiver and the other stuff. Plus the “adhesive fasteners.”
I immediately recognized the remote control, which we call “clickers” at our house. We are constantly misplacing clickers. Thank goodness the clickers that open the garage door are set firmly in place.
The only thing I couldn’t find in the package was my IBEW card. I figured I might have to be a member of the electricians’ union to assemble the kit, but apparently that is not a requirement.
The booklet advised me: “You’re about to step up to a world of even better picture and sound, and this Easy Setup Guide is here to help every step of the way.”
“Just follow the simple installation instructions...”
If I can make it as far as the page called “Activation” I should  be all set. I figure if I can get this project set up by Labor Day, I should be able to get the other three activated by Christmas – that is, if they ever arrive in the mail.
And by the way, there is no charge for these easy-to-assemble kits. They are free until September 2015. After that they are $1.50 each.
Maybe by then I can go to Radio Shack, buy all the converter parts I need and build my own digital adapters.
That is, if I get my IBEW card by then.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The digital adapters ARE NOT FREE! We ordered three of them from TWC. They arrived and a friend advised us that they were charged $34.00 for shipping for the ones they received. We called TWC and returned the adapters unopened a couple of days later to their office in Mentor. On this month's bill, we were charged $3.00 for equipment rental, $1.80 for partial month charges and $9.99 for Easy Connect Processing Fee (?)! For equipment that was never even opened! This has since been straightened out with TWC but please let people know that these adapters ARE NOT FREE!

July 20, 2014 at 1:21 PM 

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