It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, so it’s unfortunate to start 2009 with a rant about a company that doesn’t know how to deal with its customers.

In Sackville, the only cable provider in town is EastLink. Back in July when we moved to our current home, I was in Sudbury with my mother and Claire was stuck having to handle the move on her own. So I wasn’t around to supervise the cable installation and Claire had other things to tend to.

This past Christmas, we moved the TV to a new location so we could put up the tree. Here’s what I found:

EastLinks Shoddy Work

EastLink's Shoddy Work

EastLink’s installer had drilled through our hardwood floor, right next to pre-existing wall outlet, to run the cable to our TV. From there, the signal is split and then run back into the wall outlet to connect to Claire’s office for the cable modem. You see, almost every room in the house has a neat, in-wall cable outlet. It was originally wired that way.

Downstairs, directly below this outlet and the hole the guy drilled, you can see where most of the house’s cable outlets come out to connect to a splitter. That’s his white wire hanging loose on the left before running up through the floor.

Coaxial cable junction location

Coaxial cable junction location

The splitter, of course, is no longer there, having been removed by the EastLink installer who apparently is under instructions to leave the house with exactly as many outlets as have been ordered, regardless of how many may have been there for the previous satellite-based installation.

In any event, it shouldn’t have been a problem to use the existing outlets, no matter how many of them are left active (i.e. connected to a splitter). There was no reason in hell to drill through our floor at this location other than sheer laziness or stupidity. I don’t have a problem with an installer disconnecting outlets we haven’t paid for, but I do have a problem with him messing up the perfectly good, clean wiring and punching holes in the floor.

Today we took down the Christmas tree and I was reminded of this nonsense because it’s in plain sight again. So I phoned EastLink to explain the problem and ask them to send an installer to correct the shoddy work.

Instead of saying something to the effect of “That’s terrible, we’ll send someone to have a look”, the agent started quizzing me about how many outlets I had in the house. I told her that wasn’t the point; the guy had drilled through my floor when it was clearly unnecessary, and the work was of poor quality. I just wanted the cable signal to come out of the wall outlets, like it had originally when we moved in.

Well, she said, it will cost $9.95/month for an additional outlet.

I don’t think you understand, I said.

I tried to explain why it was unacceptable to me to buy an additional outlet to have the damage undone. (I didn’t even get into the fact that until last month we were paying for a second TV outlet that the guy never hooked up.)

The agent then proceeded to tell me that Claire had signed off on the work and therefore it must have been OK. I explained to her that Claire would have signed off on the basis that the TV was working and that the work is definitely not OK, so please fix it.

The EastLink agent then said that it had been too long since the installation, so they couldn’t do anything about it. I explained that the TV stand had been blocking our view of the hole in the floor and the splitter just hanging there and that I would have definitely called sooner had it come to my attention earlier.

The agent still wasn’t getting why I had a problem with the installation since I was only paying for a single outlet. Does it make sense, I asked, for the installer to completely bugger up a house’s wiring and drill unnecessary holes through an expensive hardwood floor to make darn sure that I only get a single cable outlet in the house? Is the installer instructed by EastLink to sabotage existing cable outlets?

No, the agent assured me, he’s not instructed to do this. But she would do nothing for me. I asked to speak to the supervisor, who apparently by this point was already monitoring the call.

We went through the same thing again, so she could “explain” their policy on number of outlets to me. I related, once again, that this was not the point. The point was the damage done to my floor and the pre-existing wiring. To which she too responded that it had simply been too long since the installation and there was nothing she could do. One more time, I told her that the second-rate work had been obscured to me for all this time and was now apparent since the TV had been moved.

This time she asked me how big my TV was. What does that have to do with anything, I asked? Well, it must be a pretty big TV for you to not have noticed the hole in the floor, she suggested.

Look, I said. It’s unfortunate that you’re dodging your responsibility to correct your installer’s lousy work based on your doubts about the size of my TV, the fact that you have my wife’s signature on a work order and that it’s been over 5 months that the work was done. I’m not even asking for the floor to be fixed; I just want the wiring re-done correctly.

No, sir, we will not be sending someone to your home.

Well, I said, your problem now isn’t that I will discontinue my service with EastLink as a result of your unwillingness to take responsibility for your installer’s incompetence. Your problem is that I share my customer service experiences with as many people as I can.

Have a nice day.