Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Futilities, Part 3

Although the lack of water and occasional outages of electricity were difficult to get used to, they've become fairly easy to cope with in our daily routine. The water pressure has definitely improved since I opened our cistern valve all the way, and there simply isn't anything that can be done about the power outages, except enduring them.

As a result, our current most-frustrating utility problem is the cable. The first step in getting cable is to go to the cable office, make your deposit and first month's payment, pick up your cable box, and schedule your installation appointment. We were admittedly a little delayed in doing this, as we had a lot of errands to run when we first arrived in Tortola. HB finally made it to BVI Cable to pick up our box on the 23rd of August.

When he asked to schedule an installation appointment, BVI Cable informed him that the soonest they could get to it was the 31st of August. Pressed for an earlier appointment, BVI Cable insisted that all of their cable technicians were at a training conference in Puerto Rico and would not be back until the 30th of August. Hence, the earliest available appointment was the 31st of August.

In the meantime, we went ahead and hooked the cable box up to the TV, and were gratified to get reception on several channels, including PBS, National Geographic, the Weather Channel, the TV Guide Channel, and a handful of local access and religious networks. We figured that would be plenty to make do until the 31st of August.

On August 30th, Hurricane Earl passed over the British Virgin Islands, tearing leaves off trees and downing many power and cable lines. We knew our August 31st appointment would have to be moved. On September 1, I called BVI Cable to reschedule our installation appointment, and was told that they were handling too many downed lines to reschedule at that time, but that they would call me by the end of the week to reschedule.

On September 8, with electricity completely restored to the island, I made a second call to BVI Cable, where they again told me that all their technicians were busy fixing the damage from the storm, and that they would call me to reschedule my installation appointment when they had available technicians.

On September 15, I made my third call, and was given the same story.

Sometime in late September, HB's co-workers informed him that all of their respective cable channels were fully restored, an event which we noticed because our previous line-up of channels expanded for a brief period to include TBS, TCM, ESPN2, and the WB. I made my fourth call to BVI Cable around the 28th of September, ever hopeful that I could schedule an installation appointment. Not surprisingly, they told me again that they were still fixing damage from Earl.

In early October, we lost the additional channels and returned to PBS, Weather, TV Guide, and Nat Geo, but now, Nat Geo was unreliable at best, often skipping and freezing during a show. Then, on October 6th, 7th and 8th, the tropical wave that would become Hurricane Otto dumped over 15 inches of rain on the BVI in three days, and the landslides and fallen trees downed many more cable lines.

Since I left the BVI on October 10th, HB has informed me that he is down to just PBS. He no longer has any other stations, not even the local access or religious networks. Additionally, with the repairs necessitated by Otto, BVI Cable was estimating that it would be another three to four weeks before they could schedule installation.

It has been over two months since HB picked up the cable box, and nearly two months since our original scheduled installation. While we understand that natural disasters happen, and that they may interfere with our plans to get cable TV, the complete inefficiency and ineffectiveness of BVI Cable in responding to the disaster leaves me speechless, especially considering the rapidity with which the BVI Electric Company restored complete power to the islands.

Perhaps it's time to look into getting satellite.

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