How to spoil a movie night in one easy step.
Last night, my wife and I decided to watch a movie using Verizon FiOS TV’s video-on-demand (VOD) feature. About an hour into the movie, the audio started breaking up and the video started pixelating. Then this error message appeared:
A problem has occurred with your request. Please ensure that the wires are securely connected to your set-top box. If you continue to experience problems please contact Verizon at (888)553-1555 and specify code (CL-14).”
Yes, happy Valentine’s Day to you too, Verizon. My wife had fallen asleep on the sofa, so I put on some soft music and used the opportunity to help Verizon debug their problem. I’m such a nice consumer.
Incidentally, in the old days, area codes were optional for local calls, which is why they were put in parenthesis. Most area codes are no longer optional, and toll-free area codes never were, so let’s all agree never ever to put area codes in parenthesis again. Mmm-kay?
I called Verizon and waited 18 minutes on hold before getting to speak to somebody. While on hold, I did what every TV consumer would do in the same situation. (No, not go to the bathroom.) I went to the basement, restarted the broadband router (being sure to leave it off for about 20 seconds), came back upstairs, restarted the cable box (ditto), and tried to access VOD again. No luck, same error message. One variant of the error message simply referred to “Error 14″ and didn’t include a phone number.
Guess what the Verizon representative suggested? Yup, restarting the router and cable box. So we did, same results.
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
– Albert Einstein
At this point, my romantic Valentine’s Day evening was toast. Maybe the V-Day Blizzard of ’07 had knocked out a Verizon server? Maybe VOD was getting hammered by all the romantic couples in New England? I asked the Verizon rep where he was. California.
I was on the phone with Verizon for 55 minutes and they were not able to solve the problem. We verified that FiOS Internet service worked fine, Verizon TV worked fine, everything worked except VOD. Sounds like a Verizon VOD server issue to me. Or maybe I was just imagining the problem. Could be either.
I had to ask the rep what Verizon was going to do to make this very patient customer whole. (Hint #1: good companies take the initiative to make their customers happy and actually have their own ideas about how to do this. Hint #2: keeping customers on the phone for 55 minutes to debug a 2-hour movie and then offering no compensation isn’t one of those good ideas.) He asked me to call back and check on the trouble ticket. After my prompting, he said that he’d ask his supervisor about giving a week of service credit (whatever that means). I explained that I had invested 55 minutes of my life on this and was not investing any more time. I said that they could email me to close out the matter. The Verizon rep said he had no means to send email to me. (They should try Verizon FiOS Internet service in California.) “Humor me,” I said, “and enter my email address in the file.” He did. I’m not holding my breath.
Verizon is making Apple TV look better every day.