I remember a time, not too long ago, when a customer had a problem with a service that was being provided, the retailer would compensate them in some form or other. Waived fees, gift certificates, upgraded services, etc. That doesn’t seem to be the case these days. I’m finding more and more companies are totally content being mediocre, at best. Well I don’t know about you, but I’m fucking sick of it! I’m paying good money every month for services and products that are sub-standard and I think I’ve finally had enough.
At the end of September, I picked up an HDTV. One of the first things I did was upgrade my digital cable box to an HD PVR. The PVR was only $10 more per month than the standard HD box, so we (my wife and I) decided it would be worth it. Little did we know, there is a list a mile long of known issues that plague said PVR and it proved to be more of a headache than anything else. For anyone that’s wondering, it was the Scientific Atlanta 8500HD – absolute garbage. It would change set recording times on us, simply not record random episodes, cut episodes up into 3 or 4 files among other ridiculously annoying habits. After trying to deal with it for a few weeks, we traded it in for the SA 3250HD, which is simply an HD cable box. Problem solved, right? Not quite.
The 3250HD has its own issues that almost out-weigh that of the 8500HD. The main problem being that it doesn’t seem to up-convert standard definition channels at all. They look absolutely horrible. Similar to heavily compressed streaming videos you’ll see online, there is noticeable pixellation of the image, miscellaneous artifacts all over the image, poor colour contrast and the channel guide is all pixellated to shit. But probably the most annoying thing about the 3250HD is the fact that the bars to the left and right of standard def. 4:3 channels are grey, not black. Not only that, they flicker from scene to scene, getting brighter and darker depending on the image on screen. I’ve had two Rogers Cable technicians come to our apartment to check things out, both stating that they’re not familiar with the HD boxes within 30 seconds of being here. The first tried to tell me that it was our TV that was producing the grey bars, not the cable box. Even after showing him the setting to change the brightness of those bars on the cable box and demonstrating that a 4:3 movie played via my Xbox 360 produces black bars, he was still insisting that the TV was at fault. His solution was to have the image stretch to fit the screen. You can imagine how this looked given the already terrible picture. Now we have a stretched, pixellated image. Thanks buddy! Being totally unsatisfied with the first technician we immediately called Rogers when he left and requested another one come by that has experience with the HD boxes. The following morning, technician 2 showed up and gave us the “oh, I haven’t really spent much time with the HD boxes” routine. Great start! He spent some time running diagnostics and flipping through different channels and basically told us this is how SD channels look on HD TVs. Even after telling him how much better they looked when we had the PVR. He pretty much just shrugged it off.
Between my wife and I, we’ve had a total of five conversations with Rogers tech support over the phone and the two technicians have come by our home. I’ve also spoken with two different reps at the Rogers Video store just up the street and no one has any sort of resolution for us. We’re stuck with this garbage picture on 98% (guesstimate) of our channels. Needless to say, the only TV I watch these days is the news in the morning (which airs in HD) and the few series Deanna and I watch, but I’ve gone back to downloading the episodes as we’re not around when they air.
So, to sum it up. We’re stuck paying more for an HD cable box that produces a horrendous image with a handful of other annoyances. Remind me, why? Oh right – because we live in Canada and the alternatives aren’t any better.
I would love to hear from someone that’s had a better experience in Canada, or better yet Ontario. Anyone out there? I’m dying over here!