Are You A Robot? (or Dan Cablevision de la Mancha)   (2015Oct15)

Thursday, October 15, 2015                                             3:11 PM

Most who know me would say that to describe me as ‘quixotic’ would be putting it too kindly—I can be downright ingenuous when the situation arises—as it did today, as I read my Kindle while listening to classical music on my cable TV. Optimum cable offers Music Choice as part of its TV service—a channel for every popular music genre, displaying title and artists while it plays the audio (with silent graphic ads, of course). Classical music, being less than popular, gets only the last two channels—Classical Masterpieces and Light Classical. Don’t be fooled—the only difference is that Light Classical plays shorter pieces—they don’t really understand what ‘Light Classical’ means, technically. But the channels’ titles are not that big a deal.

What upset me was that I heard a Bach piano piece that I also play—it was familiar to me so I looked up from my book and saw “Bach- English Suite No. 1 in A – Huguette Dreyfus, Harpsichord”. This was not the first time I had seen Music Choice listing a piano performance as a harpsichord performance—while Baroque music can be played on the original harpsichord or the modern piano, they are very different performances that only a machine could confuse together—and inaccuracy makes me crazy—especially when it’s on a digital database. When a database is filled with errors, those errors last forever—it’s a mistake that will never be erased, and I don’t cotton to such rapscallity.

If Music Choice wants to spell Keisha with an ‘S’ instead of a dollar sign, that’s okay by me—but classical music is historical, and errors in historical data confuse an already difficult subject. Imagine if someone wrote a biography of George Washington that was full of inaccuracies—wouldn’t that bother you? Imagine how you’d feel if they put it on TV on an infinite loop, 24/7.

You won’t be surprised by what happened when I went on live-chat with Optimum’s customer service. But perhaps it will amuse you:


New party (‘Tierra’) has joined the session

Tierra: Hi, my name is Tierra M and I will be assisting you today.


Tierra: Hi, My name is Tierra, How can I help you today?

CHRIS DUNN: Music Choice airs piano piece but titles it harpsichord piece on the Classical Masterpiece Channel – description is “Huguette Dreyfus, Harpsichord – Bach- English Suite No. 1 in A” but the performance is a piano.

CHRIS DUNN: This is not the first time I’ve seen mistakes in the listings

Tierra: I am sorry that you are having an issue and will be more than happy to assist you.

CHRIS DUNN: Who checks this stuff?

Tierra: Can we start by verifying the account info with your name/address/& phone # associated with the account please.

CHRIS DUNN: chris dunn po box 343 (914) 048-0035

Tierra: I need the complete service address please.

CHRIS DUNN: 44 jupiter drive, somer NY 10500

Tierra: Thank you, please allow me a few moments to review your account to better help you.

CHRIS DUNN: It is not me who requires help. I know that the titles on your Music Choice music are wrong—my concern is for the people that don’t know—who trust Optimum to provide accurate historical information

Tierra: I do have to follow protocol to get this addressed for you.

Tierra: Can you tell me if it’s on both boxes?

Tierra: As well as the channel number please.

CHRIS DUNN: I’m not stopping you—I’m just saying.

CHRIS DUNN: the channel number is 898

CHRIS DUNN: It’s not a problem with my box, but with your broadcast

Tierra: I understand and have to get all the information from you to be able to assist you further.

Tierra: Can you let me know if it’s happening on both boxes?



Tierra: Thank you, I’m going to get these boxes updated and reset if that’s okay?

CHRIS DUNN: You can reset my boxes, if that’s what you want to do. I’m a little disappointed that you don’t seem to understand what I’m saying.

Tierra: I’m sorry you think I don’t understand what your saying, I do understand you, I do have to follow protocol to be able to assist you further to getting this issue resolved.


Tierra: One moment while I troubleshoot this issue.

Tierra: Can you see if these boxes rebooted please?

CHRIS DUNN: The HD box is in the process—the other box is normal.

Tierra: The other box will not allow me to reset it from here, You will need to unplug the power cord for the box either by the outlet or from the box of the box. You are to leave it out for 15 seconds and then plug it back in for it to reset.

CHRIS DUNN: What now?

CHRIS DUNN: Power reset complete

Tierra: Thank you, when it say’s turn on, power it on and let me know when you get a picture.


Tierra: Thank you.


Tierra: Thank you, I will go ahead and escalate this issue over to our engineering team for them to see if they can address this issue and they will follow up with you within 24 hours. When they contact you, if they cannot reach you they will make a second attempt and leave you a voice mail. At this time, is there anything else that I can assist you with?

CHRIS DUNN:  No thank you

Tierra: It was my pleasure helping you today, Please know we are available 24/7 for you, by Live Chat, Email, Phone, as well as by Twitter and Face book. Have a great day!

Party (‘Tierra’) has left the session.

:Party (‘CHRIS DUNN’) has left the session.

Now, I wanted to say a lot more than ‘no thank you’ at this end of this farce—but I left open the possibility that this person felt trapped in her protocols and could only report my complaint if she did all her usual stuff. I believe it far more likely that she was a not-nice person who enjoys using her job to annoy anyone who contacts her, but you never know. Either way, she’s not getting a job in rocket science anytime soon.


I’m disappointed that Optimum is smart enough to know how to make money off of their music channels, but not smart enough to identify the music they air. And by insulating themselves so completely from anyone who might ask them to correct their mistakes Optimum represents what is worst about our new digital society. To log on to my chat-session, I was asked to prove I wasn’t a robot—if only it worked both ways.

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