A few months ago, Joel declared that we should cancel cable once the baby arrived to save money.
My first reaction was hell to the N-O. Fresh off reading this post, I was fairly terrified about feeling lonely, bored, and isolated during those first few months and I saw the suggestion as a personal affront. Sure, let's cancel cable! That sounds like a fantastic idea! While you're off at work with your fancy fast internet and your people to talk to and important work-things to do, I'll just sit at home with an infant attached to my boob, staring at the wall in silence! And while you're blissfully sleeping through the night I'll just wake up every two hours and quietly hold the baby with one arm while I hold up a copy of War and Peace in the other arm at 3am. Who needs TV when I can be educating myself AND feeding a baby in the middle of the night? And then I believe I cried. Have I mentioned that pregnancy hormones are fun?
Still, I was not pleased with the suggestion, even after I recovered my wits and peeled myself off the tear-stained floor.
BUT. Then we decided to actually do something about turning our second living room into the baby's room. Previously, we had a big couch downstairs with a flat-screen TV connected to the main cable box and Xbox with surround sound and all that crap. We used this for Netflix Instant and occasionally one of those old-fashioned "DVD" thingies. On the second floor, we had a loveseat and a smaller TV connected to the Tivo. This is where we watched most of our TV (and coincidentally, where we ate dinner, since the coffee table up there doubled as our dining room table). So our first step in Preparing for Baby was to take the Tivo and coffee table downstairs and set them up in the Big TV Room. We then promptly (meaning five weeks later) put all the second floor room furniture on Craigslist. We weren't exactly following the What to Expect When You're Expecting Official Timetable to the letter, but whatever. Progress! We were making it!
There was just one teensy little problem. When we connected the Tivo to the main cable box downstairs, it started recording every show with this little red flag icon instead of the happy green circle icon we have known and loved for many years. We ignored this at first. But then when I went to watch a rerun of Law and Order I'd recorded, I got this strange little warning telling me that "due to copyright settings," once I started the program, I'd have 24 hours to finish it before it was automatically deleted. Pardon moi? Upon further investigation, we learned that the little red flag also meant that we had only seven days to watch a recording before it was also automatically deleted.
As far as first world problems go, this was a pretty huge one. I came home one day to find Joel frantically watching an episode of Eureka. "I can't talk right now!" he said as he triple-beeped his way through the commercials, "I only have 36 minutes to finish 42 minutes of this show!" A week later, I stayed up way later than I wanted to in order to finish watching Project Runway after forgetting that it went to a 90-minute format last season. Normally I would have just stopped it whenever I felt like and resumed watching it when I was good and ready, whether that was the next day or two months later. BECAUSE THAT IS HOW TIVO IS SUPPOSED TO WORK. But no, I stayed up until the late, late hour of 11pm (shut up) and finished the goddamn show because I wasn't going to have time to watch it the next day. The whole time, I bitterly remembered the night I became utterly convinced that we needed to pony up for a Tivo. We were coming home from the grocery store and it was 7:57pm and Prison Break was about to come on. Joel slowed down while we passed the house and I jumped out of the still-moving car (possibly I have dramatized this evening in my mind a wee bit) and raced inside to set the VCR while he looked for a parking space. I struggled with getting the VCR properly set up and we missed the first ten minutes. This was back before all shows were available online, and also back when Prison Break was a good show. It was a tragedy of minor proportions and I decided I was sick of it. We got a Tivo a few weeks later and the Tivo set us free. The end. Until now.
This little copyright debacle has been going on for about a month, and friends: it sucks. We went on a babymoon vacation to South Carolina (and met the lovely Angela!) and while we were gone, all our shows were deleted. We can no longer bank up three or four episodes of a show and watch them back to back on the weekends. The Tivo is basically useless, and without the Tivo... TV is basically useless. And these two now-useless commodities are costing us $75 a month.
I tried contacting Tivo's customer service, and they were helpful enough, but ultimately concluded that it was a Comcast problem. I tried contacting Comcast and they were... not helpful. At all. The first person I spoke to on the phone said she'd never heard of such a thing and it must be a Tivo issue. The person I talked to on via their online chat help suggested that all our problems would be solved if we switched to a Comcast DVR for a low introductory price. As a last ditch effort, I tried contacting Comcast Bill on Twitter. I've seen other people have great success solving customer service problems via Twitter, and I figured it was worth a try. And what do you know -- it worked!
Well, sort of. It worked in that Comcast Bill put us on some kind of VIP Customer Service list and I got a call from a very nice gentleman who was very concerned about our problem that same afternoon. He agreed that we had a serious (SERIOUS) problem on our hands and set us up with a service appointment that same weekend.
It didn't so much work in that the service tech was unable to actually, you know, fix the problem. He tried switching out the cable box and spewed out a lot of mumbo jumbo about "cable cards" and our elderly Series 2 Tivo "not having one" (and he also had some helpful advice about how we should find out the sex of the baby so that we can know if we're "in for trouble" or not), but the bottom line is this: we either replace our perfectly fine Tivo with a newer model and pray that fixes the problem, or we suffer with the faulty copyright setting forever.
Strangely enough, I have almost stopped caring. It's the summer and there's not much on. I'm totally over Covert Affairs and Pretty Little Liars. So all my shows are getting deleted? Whatever. I'm just pissed that we're now paying $75 a month for, basically, nothing.
Friends, I think we are going to cancel cable. Hold me.