My Point of View

My roommate and I went downtown to the Midcontinent office to re-activate our cable and internet service. This situation just welcomes a mild conflict, am I right? And be warned, this "conflict" is extremely mild. Thankfully, my pool of conflicts to choose from is extremely shallow. Anyway, I have three other roommates, and three of us go back home to the cities in the summer. One guy stays in Bemidji and would rather not pay a whole Midcontinent bill by himself for three months, so we deactivated the service. The meeting was going along smoothly. The woman behind the counter clearly knew what she was doing, and had probably been going through the same process all day long, setting up installation dates for college students. We set a date, which of course would leave us without cable (not a big deal) and internet (major inconvenience) for the first two weeks of classes. And then she says, "Okay, and there will be a one-time installation charge of 30 dollars on your first bill." I had been zoning out, looking at the TV over her shoulder, but hearing about an installation charge brought me back to reality.

"Wait, an installation charge? We have all of the cords and everything. We just need a modem. I know how to screw the cords into the TVs," was my reaction.

She looked at me as if I had chosen this comment from a short list of things customers are allowed to say. "Everyone thinks we can just flip a switch and you magically have cable. It doesn't work that way?"

Her snappy response caught me off guard. "Why not?"

"When you cancelled your service in April one of our guys came to your house and put a cap on your cables. That way people can just plug in their TVs and get free cable."

Yeah, and you can screw people like us for thirty bucks, I thought. But all I said was, "Oh," and we left.

Worker's Point of View

Here come two more guys in their early twenties that want to set up cable and internet at their house. I hope they live in the same place they lived last year; it's so much easier that way. Oh good, they live at the same address, and these are the same two guys that came in here last year to set up their service. Yada, yada, yada, I glaze over and put my brain into auto pilot mode. I get to the part about the installation fee, and one of the guys decides to make a big deal out of it. I can't remember why they need to pay a fee to re-start service, so I say something about a block put on the lines. Honestly, at this point we should be able to flip a switch, but the company prefers to squeeze an extra thirty bucks out of guys like this. Oh well, he bought the company line and now they're out the door.

Fly on the Balcony

There are only a few types of interaction that happen in this office. One, someone comes in with equipment to drop off. Two, someone comes in to pay a bill. And three, someone comes in to activate service. Today a pair of young guys came in empty-handed. That always means they're activating service. Usually, at some point, there is a snag in the conversation between the worker and the customer. This time it happened right at the end. The part about the installation fee would be my guess. I mean, how much could it really cost the company for a guy to mess with some wires? Thirty bucks? I think not. But I'm sure this employee can't say or do anything but repeat the company line.
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