Last week my cable box stopped responding to the remote. I went through the obvious checklist of changing batteries, checking the remote's settings, rebooting the cable box, making sure the remote still controlled the TV volume and power functions okay, and making sure the cable box could be controlled manually by the buttons on the front. Then I called Comcast's tech support.

They put me through the same steps I already tried then added reversing the polarity of the batteries in the remote to essentially reboot it. That didn't work. So the tech support person sent me to the nearest Comcast store to get a new remote control. The new one didn't work either. But of course the tech support person on my next call (an American woman in case you wonder) made me repeat all the steps that didn't make a difference last time just to be sure. At the end of the call the tech support person concluded, and I am not making this up, "The remote probably just needs to loosen up."

Pause while you digest that.

I had already requested a repair visit before this latest call to tech support, so I gave up and waited. When the repair guy came I described my problem and informed him in the best straight face I could muster that his company thinks maybe the remote control just needs to "loosen up."

The repair guy asked, "Did they really say that?" I confirmed that they did. I could see the last bit of hope drain out of his eyes as he just looked to the floor, slumped his shoulders, and shook his head in disbelief. He seemed a broken man. But he replaced the cable box and everything was fine. Later that night I doubt he bought anything to stimulate the economy, unless it was beer.

Okay, now changing topics, I got this story by e-mail:

"The door on the mini-refrigerator at work wouldn't close because the freezer compartment was iced over.  Two employees, a man and a woman, decided to thaw it out. They carried it down from the second floor to the warm outside so it could thaw without making a mess in the office.

When their boss heard what they did, he screamed at them for doing it without the assistance of the unionized maintenance group. So even though by now the freezer was completely thawed out, fully cleaned, and sitting outside the building, the boss contacted the maintenance people to schedule a day and time for them to bring it back in.

The day before the maintenance people were scheduled to bring it back inside the office, the boss saw that the refrigerator was missing from outside the building. He stormed up to the female employee's desk and screamed at her, ‘I told you not to ever move that refrigerator again!' She burst into tears and said, ‘I didn't touch it . . . I didn't touch it! I don't know what you're talking about.' Apparently someone thought the refrigerator was being discarded and took it home."

That night the two employees who cleaned the refrigerator did not buy anything to stimulate the economy. They cried themselves to sleep. At least that's my guess.
Rank Up Rank Down Votes:  +16
  • Print
  • Share


Sort By:
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 12, 2009
yes we are like a package of mortgage backed securities. its in our dna.
Feb 6, 2009
When even the poolboy is a qualified para-legal, there might be a problem with the economy.

When the revolution comes, just make sure YOU are not the first against the wall.
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 6, 2009
OT back to a previous post.

To avoid the “repeated joke” syndrome Dilbert needs a pre-publication peer review panel made up of long time readers. Apart from flagging repeats they could also say how funny it was.

Hmm… has this been mentioned before – it seems familiar…
Feb 4, 2009
Scott, this was going to be off-topic, but now I'm not so sure... Anyway, regarding the Day-to-Day calendar, that the cartoons are in colour is an improvement, what's not is the glue-binder-spine thingy on the top. In previous years it used to be made of something akin to bogeys, now it seems to be dried s.m.e.g.m.a. When you try to tear it off after a couple of weeks when it protrudes it just breaks off in nasty little nuggets, along with bits of the nice purple backing. Then it looks like rats (or Ratbert) came in in the night and decided to nibble your calendar. Perhaps if you flavoured the glue I really could get the rats to do it for me.
I guess that's what you get for getting it made in Elbonia....
Feb 4, 2009
Having read this, I think I've figured it out: There's a secret union somewhere just for stupid people! It makes perfect sense; why else would the dumbest ones have any job security -- much less more job security than everyone else. Plus, why *wouldn't* there be a Stupid People's union? Unions exercise enormous control over not only businesses, but their workers as well; what better group of workers to be in control of than ones who can't tell when you're !$%*!$%* them over?
Feb 4, 2009
There is an phenomenon I have come to call the "Call Center Effect". People at call centers are not meant to help you. They are there to make you feel good about your problem. They are not experts in any field (related to the problem for which one calls them) excerpt their good (sometimes) communication skills. Worst of all is that they are trained to conceal the fact that they know absolute nothing about your problem - but they need to do it in such a way that the caller is left feeling dumb. There is more that can be said about this effect. I now have what I call my "call center effect" attitude. When I am in a meeting I can quickly asses whether the person(s) can provide REAL help to my problem or merely make me feel good - this include encounters with banktellers, supermarket cashiers, government officials etc.
Feb 4, 2009
I love it when I have more tech knowledge and/or skill than the customer support person on the other end of the phone - happens more and more often. Just tell me the truth - I'm a grownup - I can take it....
About unions: like most other workplace !$%*!$%* there are good ones and bad ones. Sometimes good ones get into trouble when short-sighted managers and/or overzealous shop stewards get carried away enforcing what they perceive to be "The Rules".
A case in point - 28 years ago I worked at a satellite office for a health insurance company. One day a metal desk fell apart; three bolts broke from metal fatigue. The department manager decided to throw away the desk and order a $1000 replacement. His reasoning - It was cheaper than having the non-union janitorial service from the office space we were renting reconstruct the old desk, while paying a manager overtime to supervise and guard proprietary information (The company was already paying the janitorial service, as I understood it, so no additional fees would have been charged there...) Total OT for the hypothetical manager might have come to $60 or $70.
Frugal gal that I am, I asked permission to take the desk, since they'd trashed it, Got permission, loaded it in my car and hauled the pieces home. My equally frugal dad had stove bolts, so it cost me nothing to reconstruct it. It's been through 4 moves, and I'm sitting here typing this at it now. And, the insurance company just asked to raise premiums again....
Much of a company's or union's health depends on its' leadership. I live in NJ, where my husband works for the State. Anyone can look up online the ongoing saga of our governor and the union leader. That particular local leader is such a "treasure", she's been ousted by the national and is currently fighting it in court. In direct contrast is the LADY who leads my husband's local of the same union - I think that LADY (and I use that word to honor her, since she really is one!) would go to hell and back for her members, and there's not a dishonest bone in her body - what a contrast!
(Just as an aside - I no longer have health insurance with my former employer!)
Having lived through my desk story, I find the refrigerator story horrifyingly believable - did the boss have pointy hair?

Feb 3, 2009
and then the boss voted ...

for Obama
Feb 3, 2009
For a long time, it was generally believed that if an adult person was an imbicile, that it was because that person had a low IQ. Not true. Being an imbicile is partly due to the training received when the person was imprinting from it's parents, or whatever served as parents, and partly due to whatever is perceived by it's peer group to be "cool" while in the pre-teen and teen years. We as a society are now paying the price for some of the young(er) people thinking that being an imbicile during growing up time was "normal". Thanks Dub-ya for such stellar intellectual leadership for the last 8 years and yet another great social mess. Wheels within wheels within wheels....

I guess the lessons of "Silent Spring" are still being learnt.
Feb 3, 2009
One of my favorite parts of reading your blog are the "targeted" ads that show up on the RSS feed. Today's ad featured an appliance repair store.
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 3, 2009
Oh boy what a slippery slope this is. There are three main facts.

1. Unions are obsolete.
2. The second you get rid of them, they become essential.
3. Unions and the organizations in which they exist have a symbiotic relationship.

Unfortunately, neither one usually recognizes this and they both can fall fast and hard as a result. I could go on with examples and scenarios but I think this readership knows what I'm getting at.
-2 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 3, 2009

Brilliant comments! "worked toward the goal of a 40 hour week or an 8 hour workday" is certainly a worthy endeavor. The Democrat Party wants to tax the crap out of successful people because they earn what is deemed an inordinate sum. How many of them limit themselves to a mere 40 hrs? And now when "card check" is implemented we can look for more unions encouraging people to work down to that level, and the jobs that belong to the employers - not the employees- going to more friendly countries. And then those still working can pay more to support the increased ranks of unemployed. AHHHHHH, glorious socialism. We race backwards to catch back to the Russians!!! Brilliant!!!
Feb 3, 2009
both good points about human failure.

the first (comcast) i think is just an unfortunate reality to living in society with morons.

they can't tell who is a moron, so they have to cover every base every time. its not that the support professionals are stupid, its that the public they work with is. of course there will be challenged customer service agents as well. you talk about it like you spoke with one.

what i've found is that it takes less time to let them hold your hand and walk thru everything repeatedly then to assert your mastery and spark their ire. apparently there are pseudo experts who #$@ everything up too.

another layer of false identification. they just can't trust the customer to be competent.
Feb 3, 2009
Years ago when HBO was new, we would add the single HBO channel to existing Hotels, apartments, etc. Because of issues with existing channel line-up, etc. there often would be some distortion on the first try. The Salesmen would always say the same thing, Let the TV get used to the new channel for a couple of weeks. And Yep, I would be there in a couple of weeks after the time did nothing but frustrate the customer.
Feb 3, 2009

Bill Gates: " The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency. "
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 3, 2009
I work for a union, I like unions. But sometimes people think they are there just so they can have work.

Case in point.

I went to Superstore (in Nanaimo, BC, Canada) which amazingly, for a large, horribly yellow super store is unionized. I found out because I went there to purchase a leather coffee table. So it's big about 4' square, and heavy and in a box. So, I look around can't see any employees, but find a metal cart, like they use to put all their boxes on when stocking the shelves. I take it, because no one seems to care to want to give me a hand, and I load up the table, and push it through the store, and pay at the cash counter.

Then, as I'm pushing it back to my car, some lady comes up to me, obviously some sort of shift supervisor or someone with "power", and yells at me saying "Your taking away union jobs!", because I'm pushing this thing to my car without the help of a unionized employee.

I don't think I even replied, I was so thrown off.
I just moved away quickly, and stared at her like she was mad.

She didn't even send anyone to help me...
Feb 3, 2009
Cable boxes have an internal bit in them that says "respond to the remote" from the old days when remote was a costly option. I think your got flipped.

Still, it amazes me that people expect Cable Company front-line people to be capable, they're no better than first-line people at any other company. If you don't like the answer, don't get mad, ask for escalation!
Feb 3, 2009
It's a pity you decided to post this anti-union email. If your cubicle based workers were covered by workers compensation, had weekends off, worked toward the goal of a 40 hour week or an 8 hour workday, had safety in the workplace, it was thanks to Unions. If we left it up to corporations, workplaces would look like Asian sweatshops.
Feb 3, 2009
I have a cable modem. It rarely goes out, but when it does, every single time I have called I can rattle off what I have tried which tells the tech "This guy has a clue" and we go from there.

I have a friend with DSL. They will not deviate from the script at all! "Try rebooting your computer." "Is the green light blinking? Turn off the modem and count to 30." It's absolutely infuriating and his DSL goes out all the time.
Feb 3, 2009
Ha, I'm Canadian and used to work for a call support company called Convergys that had a contract for Comcast. Oh, man was I poor at that job. Some days, the call volume was low so you got a lot of time between them to play games and read news (Actually where I read Gods Debris).

This meant that on busy days where there wasn't a lot of time between calls people would get angry when they had to do things. I used to simply transfer their calls back to our customer help number to avoid having to work. Or during calls I'd be playing Super Punch-Out on a snes emulator and if I couldn't answer their calls without having to close the game I'm just transfer them to sales. Oh, good days those.
Get the new Dilbert app!
Old Dilbert Blog