Home > Fande = Fact & Evidence, Original Thought, self-sacrificing, The Economy > FAH-Q Cox Communications (headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia)

FAH-Q Cox Communications (headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia)

FAH-Q = For All to Hear & Question. ; )

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Let’s start with a simple premise: I want to watch Knicks basketball games from a television in California.

We have Cox Communications as our cable programming provider at home. In order to watch all Knicks basketball games I will have to buy a $170 sports package called “NBA League Pass.” However, I can watch Knicks games at a local bar, and pay for the beverage and food as the price of accessing the game instead.

So I called up my favorite local pub and asked the female bartender who picked up the phone if they would be showing the Knicks game (versus the Toronto Raptors). Yes, she told me over the phone, they would be showing the Knicks game. When I arrived at the bar, I asked the male bartender if he could put on the Knicks channel. He searched the schedule on the TV screen and clicked the station that denoted Knicks v. Raptors, but there was no video. He told me that the channel wasn’t broadcasting the game yet. I did show up an hour before tipoff, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I ordered a beer and something to eat, and waited. A half-hour before tipoff, there was no video: there was no pre-game coverage. I asked him to make sure that they actually had the basketball package in order to watch the Knicks game, and that’s when we both came to the overwhelmingly obvious conclusion that the TVs in that bar would not be showing the Knicks game. He did do me the favor of calling other bars in the area, and found me one showing the Knicks game on DIRECTV (Ah, wouldn’t that be an obvious solution then? Just switch to DIRECTV at home. Not so fast Mr. or Ms. Reader. We’ll get back to that in a moment.)

I was able to watch Jeremy Lin make his game-winning 3-pointer in Toronto after all was said and done, but from a seat at the bar in a family-themed sports restaurant. I enjoyed being able to watch the game, but I did not enjoy the atmosphere. That’s when I started wondering about the next time the Knicks were not televised on ABC or TNT, both channels that I can access from home. I wanted to make sure I could record every Knicks game, and watch it when I wanted to, in the comfort of my home, at my leisure. So we paid the $170 to get the “NBA League Pass” from Cox Communications. The only problem is that I want to watch Knicks games, and especially Knicks home games, from the perspective of the Knicks’ commentators. The “NBA League Pass” from Turner Broadcasting, and brought into my home by Cox Communications, provides the live feed of the Knicks basketball games from the opponents’ channels, so that I get audio commentary and video images from the perspective of the Kings or the Cavaliers, or from the perspective of whichever team the Knicks will be competing against.

I actually drove 70 miles from my home to watch the Knicks v. Cavaliers game at a real sports bar that had the Madison Square Garden (MSG) broadcast, and then I watched the recording of the game later when I got home. When Novak was lighting up the arena with his 3-pointers he pantomimed putting on a championship belt (“Discount Double-Check” in today’s parlance) and I saw Tyson Chandler imitating Novak’s championship belt display from the bench, because MSG provided those images. I also saw Tyson Chandler, Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony locked arm-in-arm and cheering on their bench players’ success. I want to see those images, along with all of the action on the court. However, I did not see those same images from the video perspective of the Cavaliers’ broadcast. The Cavaliers’ commentators were also quick to point out Iman Shumpert’s undeserved continuation basket & free throw attempt given by the referees in the 4th quarter, and they were also happy to belabor the point. I don’t want to hear the opposing team’s perspective. I want to hear the Knicks’ perspective. Of course, I want to see fair play, above all. I do not want to see a fixed match or favoritism from the referees, but sometimes bad calls happen in the fast-paced realm of live sports. It really was an undeserved continuation 2-points & free throw, but I do not want to hear it multiple times with bitter cadence while I’m rooting in the opposite direction…especially when I should have the option to watch MSG in the first place, because we paid the full price of $170 to get the “NBA League Pass” from our cable provider, Cox Communications. By the way, the MSG commentators did point out that it was a bad call, but they did it with a different tone of voice and did not discuss the Cavaliers’ coach –Byron Scott — reaction, like the Cavaliers’ commentators did.

Now, this is only one of the problems with Cox Communications (I will address the other problems in a moment), but let’s stay focused on the problem of watching the Knicks play basketball from the perspective of the Knicks’ commentators and MSG, the publicly traded company that owns Madison Square Garden, the Knicks basketball team, and its own channel, also called MSG. I called Cox’s Customer Service, which is full of incompetent and apathetic people, unfortunately. Nobody at Cox’s Customer Service over the phone could help provide me MSG’s feed of the Knicks basketball games. So I went to the physical location of Cox Communications nearest to where I live. There are no Customer Service people there, only sales people. So nobody at Cox’s physical location in California could help me.

Then I called Cox Communications headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, which is also full of incompetent and apathetic people. The gatekeepers of secretaries/office managers/assistants will not allow me to talk with the company President, Patrick Esser, or the Executive Vice President/Chief Financial Officer, Mark Bowser. I did reach one very genuine and real person at the Cox Communications headquarters who did listen to my description of the problems I was having with Cox’s products and service (once again, I will address all of the problems with Cox in a moment). However, she was an assistant and had no ability to help me. She passed me on to Frank Hott, the ultimate gatekeeper, who did not help me at all and who has the ironic title, “Manager, Customer Satisfaction.” Mr. Hott would not help me, he said, unless I gave him my customer account number so that he could identify me. I told him the problems that I was having with Cox’s products and service were probably happening to thousands if not millions of Cox’s customers, and he did not need to identify me in order to come up with a solution to my problems if only he would take the time to hear what I was trying to tell him. That’s when he threatened to hang up if I didn’t identify myself by my account number or my address. And that’s when I told him that I did not trust him, which I found out later proved to be a correct assessment.

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Background information necessary to understand the widespread incompetence and apathy at Cox Communications:

#1

I got a new cable box, which cost $60 plus $5 every month. It has more gigabytes, or storage capability, in order to record more High-Definition programs than the old cable box. The installer who came to my home to install the new box does not use Cox Cable at his home. He did not know how to work the remote control that he handed me for the new box. The best he could do was give me two pamphlets to read through, in order to learn how to work the remote control. This is unacceptable that Cox does not provide training to its installers. Even if they do not watch TV or have Cox Cable at home, all employees should receive training about the products and service that the company provides to its customers.

#2

It was only after the installer left that I figured out that the new box has less search functionality than the old box. I can not type K-N-I-C-K-S into the search field to find Knicks games. I would have to type in N-B-A, which would return dozens if not hundreds of options–new games and those playing on repeat. The old box had the option to take the larger category of “Sports” and create sub-categories of “Football” or “Basketball” or “Baseball” or “Soccer” and on and on. The new box does not have that function. I only have the themed choice of “Sports,” which then brings up hundreds of live and previously recorded athletic events from around the globe. If I want to record a Knicks game or a soccer (the real football) match, then I have to go to the internet to find the day and time, and sometimes the channel, that will be broadcasting the athletic event I want to watch.

Ah, but that’s not all! When I do find the soccer/football match I want to watch — via the website http://www.livesoccertv.com/schedules/ — I find the channel on the TV-screen-schedule provided by Cox Communications. Even though I have accurately selected the correct channel, date and time for the soccer/football match to be broadcast in the future, the screen reads verbatim “No information.” I then have to select the button on the remote control “Info” in order to see the two teams that will be playing. This means that there is no possibility of finding a respective soccer/football match any other way than when I access the internet to find the channel/date/time or when I manually click through all of the programming for ESPN Deportes/Fox Soccer Channel/Gol TV and selecting “Info” for every time-slot, most of which state “No information” at first glance.

Yes, I called Cox Customer Service to confirm these are my only options for searching and successfully selecting the athletic events I want to watch. This level of incompetence and apathy is beyond frustrating. Cox Cable doesn’t even bother to properly list the programming, but relies on an outside company to do that. Cox has zero accountability: Cox does not have an employee to serve as a liaison with the broadcasting channels to uphold quality control. Cox could pay an employee to research the publicly available scheduling information via the internet and catalog the sporting event in place of “No information.” Instead, I have to research on the internet in order to find the live sports events I want to watch, and hope that “No information” turns to information once I hit the “Info” button. Cox has set up its cable products and service for failure, but the company is happy to charge me full price anyway…and charge me more and more money for specialty sports packages, such as “NBA League Pass” and “Fox Soccer Plus.” We pay more money and get less quality service: that’s not right!

* Cox Communications does not offer Fox Soccer Plus right now. Even though I could see commercials that Fox Soccer Plus was running a free-trial during the month of February, I could not access the channel. However, I have a feeling if/when Fox Soccer Plus becomes available via Cox Communications, I (along with other customers) will have to pay a premium to watch the “premium” channel.

** I have also called Cox Customer Service several times over the last several months to request Current TV, which is still not available via Cox Communications at the time of writing this post.

# 3

When I called Cox Communications headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia none of their employees know what I am talking about, because Cox Communications does not provide television cable service in Atlanta, Georgia. The Reason: The Federal Communications Commission limits the amount of media outlets that a company can have in a geographical location. That’s Right! The employees at Cox Communications headquarters do not use Cox Communications. It’s a real-life version of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave trying to “communicate” with employees at Cox Communications. The Cox employee who installed my new cable box does not use Cox Cable and does not know how to work the remote; the employees at Cox Communications headquarters do not know about the problems with Cox’s lack of scheduling information on the TV screen because they do not use Cox at their homes; and when I talk to Linda Wade, Government and Customer Relations representative (calling on behalf of David Bialis, the General Manager for Cox in my area), she disclosed to me that she does not watch sports at all. Nobody at Cox Communications knows the problems with the company’s products and service because they do not use the company’s products and service with which I am having problems. I demonstrated to the salesperson at Cox’s physical location in California the deficiency of proper cataloging related to the on-screen schedule, and, although he agreed with me, he told me that there was nothing he could do to help me.

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Although I did not request a call from him, Frank Hott called me on my cellphone today. I got two missed phone calls from a number that I did not recognize (no messages either time), but I called back. He knew it was me right away and began speaking before I could hardly answer. He then informed me that if I called Cox Communications headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia and spoke with anyone other than with him, the company would be taking legal action against me for what it deemed as harassment. I told Frank Hott I did not appreciate his threatening phone call. I did not call back to Cox Communications headquarters. Instead I am writing this blog post.

I have contacted the NBA headquarters, I have contacted MSG, and I have contacted “NBA League Pass,” which is owned by Turner Broadcasting. The “NBA League Pass” representative listened to me, actually listened to me, and did some research. She called me back and informed me that Cox Communications has chosen to “Blackout” MSG in my area.

So returning to the beginning simple premise, and expanding it a bit: If I want to watch Knicks basketball games from a television in California and from the Knicks’ perspective, I will not be able to do so from my TV at home because Cox Communications has chosen to “Blackout” the channel, MSG. But what about DIRECTV? Yes, I can go to a bar with DIRECTV. Or I can switch to DIRECTV and lose the $170 I have invested toward being able to watch the Knicks play basketball from the comfort of my home. However, I do not have a good feeling about DIRECTV, which has its own set of problems, such as restricted access to channels, like Fox Soccer.

Source: http://www.epltalk.com/directv-threatens-to-remove-fox-soccer-from-its-programming-36365

EXCERPTS:

DirecTV Threatens to Remove FOX Soccer From Its Programming

By The Gaffer on October 21, 2011 (4 months ago)

According to DirecTV, NewsCorp (the parent company of FOX) is demanding that DirecTV pay a 40% increase to show FOX sports channels which include FOX Soccer, FOX Soccer Plus, FOX Deportes, SPEED and more. FOX, meanwhile, issued their own statement:

‘We have proposed to keep the Fox Networks on DirecTV for the same price, and on the same terms as they are currently carried while we attempt to work out a fair agreement. Unfortunately, DirecTV has decided that unless they get their way, they are going to pull the plug on their customers November 1.’

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting sick of these type of tactics. TV networks and cable/satellite providers have been airing their dirty laundry in public quite often recently, to make sure the public knows about these spats.

We’ve seen this story played out so many times before (with different cable and satellite providers, and different networks). Both FOX and DirecTV will argue publicly for the next 10 days. They’ll use scare tactics to get the public concerned. And then at the eleventh hour, a compromise will be reached or an extension will be granted, thus saving all of the DirecTV customers from losing the programming.

While it’s a concern for soccer fans, they’ll figure out a deal. Wake me up when it’s over.”

I would not be surprised if indeed the real problem is the greedy, self-serving Rupert Murdoch-owned News Corporation, parent company of Fox Soccer. I have had Time Warner Cable in New York and in California. They are horrible too.

I have also contacted the Washington, D.C. offices of California senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein. I will be contacting the White House and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, chaired by West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller.

In the grand scheme of things on planet Earth, being able to watch a basketball game is a trivial concern. People are dying, starving, struggling to make it through the day. But during this Great Recession, some of us want a little entertainment and escapism to take our minds off the troubles of the world for an hour or two. Basketball is a game, after all. It’s a sideshow, it is not the main event. The main event is a livable wage, food on the table, an opportunity for education and advancement, peace and prosperity for all. However, basketball is also big business. Many people make their livings directly or indirectly related to basketball and other televised sports. If we live in a civilization in which businesses are supposed to provide a product or service at a reasonable price for the benefit of the community, then we need to have some kind of accountability when businesses, such as cable companies, do not provide the product or service as advertised. I want to be able to take part vicariously in the organic moments of “The Beautiful Game,” and I want to see all of the images (and hear the commentary, if I choose to turn on the TV volume rather than listen to music during the game) from the perspective of my team — the Knicks. If MSG, as a channel, is available on planet Earth then I want MSG to be available from my TV in California.

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When sport transcends to the point of Art, it is called “The Beautiful Game.”©

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Perhaps we need regulation of cable companies just like we need regulation of Wall Street. Because if nobody says anything then the corporations are happy to exploit their customers all day, every day. I have witnessed the incompetence and apathy, or possibly purposely designed extortion racket, of the cable companies firsthand. And I will not suffer in silence. I am speaking up for myself, and on behalf of the thousands and possibly millions of other Americans who have problems with the products and service from their respective cable/satellite companies.

I believe in the two-pronged approach: identify the problem, identify the solution. I have identified the problem: cable/satellite companies and their counterpart channel providers exploiting customers for more money for more sports packages while providing less quality viewing and less quality service. The solution: we need government regulation of an industry that has proven it can not regulate itself.

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Read more:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/16/sports/basketball/cable-tv-blackout-frustrates-lins-chinatown-fans.html?_r=1&hp

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5g5ss3OdLeHIl9ilL-mo-shL39HqA?docId=d639b6815d0d41ec99f159a1641797a9

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Watch:

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-february-20-2012/lindecision-2012

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*** I have successfully recorded matches for Arsenal and FC Barcelona this weekend, but ESPN Deportes (channel 407 on Cox Communications’ guide) does not catalog the Real Madrid game at 12:30 pm PST on Sunday, March 4. Instead, Cox Communications has incorrectly cataloged “Fútbol Alemán” for ESPN Deportes (channel 407) during the time-slot of 12:00 pm to 2:30 pm PST on Sunday, March 4. When I select the “Info” button, the screen reads verbatim “Acción desde la Bundesliga.”  This is just one more example of incompetence from Cox Communications.

Live Soccer TV lists the Real Madrid match for 12:30 pm PST on Sunday, March 4 to be shown on ESPN Deportes:

http://www.livesoccertv.com/match/226219/real-madrid-vs-espanyol/

(Of course, it is possible that Live Soccer TV got it wrong, but their cataloging has been spot-on during the many years I have been relying on their internet service. This is not the first time that ESPN Deportes via Cox Communications has incorrectly cataloged a La Liga/Spanish League football match.)

Here is the listing for the Real Madrid match, according to UEFA/Google search:

en.uefa.com
Last game: Rayo Vallecano 0 – 1 Real Madrid, Feb 26
Next game: vs. Espanyol, Mar 4 3:30pm ET

CONFIRMATION: Real Madrid v. Espanyol played with the incorrect title of the German League on the screen. I would have had no way to have found this match if I relied on Cox Communications’ mislabeled cable guide. Now that is Incompetence with a capital I. And if the company is aware of it, as I have made sure that it is, over the phone via the Customer Service Center, in-person at the company’s physical location in California, and over the phone at the company’s headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, then this lack of service is also Apathy with a capital A.

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