Wednesday, August 22, 2012

 

Pissed at Oceanic


by Larry Geller

Our cable bill came in the mail today. It’s up by quite a bit over last month, with no explanation.

So we called. After being on hold over an hour, having to listen to crummy music that became increasingly annoying (the speakerphone is not exactly hi-fi), we gave up.

Possibly out of the thousands of others who got their bill today, a significant number picked up the phone to find out why, or to complain.

Yes, we tried calling on another line, etc., but it’s not going to work today.

So having figured out how to break Safeway’s seltzer monopoly, the next task may be to look at monopoly cable bills. Unfortunately there may not be an easy (that is, cheaper) solution for a condo-dweller.

Update: Today (8/23) Oceanic explained that they had multiple outages yesterday that overloaded their phone system, to the point that it couldn’t even offer the call-back option. Fair enough, except that the message could have indicated that.  Our call was not urgent. Calling back today would have been fine.

Some other automatic call directors do tell the caller that the wait will be very long, even estimating the number of minutes.

So c’mon, Oceanic, get with the technology. Grrr.



Comments:

I live in a condo and cut my cable early part of this year because my rate suddenly increased - no reason given. I use Over-the-air signal - still free unless Congress sells off the frequencies. You'll only get the basic local, religious, ethnic stations and PBS - that's enough for me. Study the antenna - not all are the same. Worth a try.
 


I suggest making a complaint on their Facebook page.

Yes, I am an official "OCHui Social Media" member.

That's a whole different "Disappeared News" story though.

They are taking social media complaints very seriously right now.
 


Oceanic is owned by Time-Warner, supposedly the largest media company in the world. So, Oceanic does what it wants in Hawaii and is sucking this community dry. I wish the legislature would open its eyes and have some cojones. Take Public Access for example, stuck in the non-HD world. Good luck taking them on.
 


Public access is required by state law (as I understand it) to be provided on the lowest tier of service, in other words, basic cable. They have moved `Olelo's channel 49 to digital and so far DCCA hasn't complained. I guess it would be ok to duplicate public access on digital, and agree with you on that.

I don't believe I can take them on in acutality, basically I'm just bitching. It's too much even to hope for improvement.
 


Larry - Akaku has strenuously objected to the proposed transfer of P.E.G. stations from basic cable to digital. Akaku could tell you more, if interested.
 


Yes, I know Akaku has objected. I spoke to them during the legislative session about which specific laws have been violated. But DCCA hasn't taken action as far as I know so the transfers to digital remain in place.
 


Larry,

Can you give us a better idea of how much your bill jumped? Did you ever get an explanation?

I think the Oceanic monopoly is outrageous and that we are being screwed by the lack of competition. The DCCA has basically refused to enforce the conditions of the agreement with Time-Warner and allows them to get away with sub-standard, overpriced service and not providing the public access services they are mandated to provide. It happened under Cayetano, under Lingle and now, under Abercrombie. And we got no avenue.

The Legislature doesn't give a damn. Why are they going to rock the boat? Oceanic will just agree to wire a school or something and they will be bought off. We need an Oceanic Users Group. Start small, with a website, a blog. Gather people's complaints and follow up to see if they are resolved. Grow the membership and share the knowledge.

OK. I came up with the idea. Now you do the work!

; )
 


It would be great if a consumer group could be effective here.

Our bill went up $8.63 with no explanation. It just felt like the last straw.

Yesterday the phone was answered when we called. It turned out that there had been a long-running promotion that had run out. It's a price increase no matter how it is explained.

As to a users group, I agree with you completely. What I don't see is how such a group can have any influence on a monopoly as strong and entrenched as Oceanic is.

Competition is increasing, but unless other TV services are made to carry public access channels, the Oceanic monopoly will remain. The public access channels were originally mandated because the cable companies enjoy the use of public rights of way -- their cables are strung under the streets and sidewalks. Now, receiving TV over a dish, say, does not bring with it the same use of public assets. When a phone company provides TV, it appears similar to a cable in that public assets are used. But governments have not gone to bat for us on this.

If there are ideas out there on how a group might be effective, let's hear them. I'm not opposing your suggestion, just trying to push the idea forward.

If there is a way something could help, people will join in. Otherwise, they'll just kick back and watch the TV and grouse. So many other things in our lives seem out of control, this is just one of them.

 


Actually, only one of the Maui channels migrated to digital. As a result of Akaku's concerns, the balance remain. At least for now. Arguments on all sides can be found at:
http://hawaii.gov/dcca/catv/decisions_orders/finding_of_fact/Comments_to_the_Migration_of_Analog_Education_Channels_to_Digital_Format.pdf
 

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