Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Monday, August 31, 2009

I Want My HDTV

Last month I bought a new LCD TV for the sun porch. I had put a new cable connection the room, and we looked forward to spending time in that recently remodeled room. I connected the TV to the cable before I had obtained a cable box, and the picture was great. Since the TV is a HD TV, and I wanted HD programming I made arrangements to get a new HD cable box from the Charter branch office in Southbridge. In the meantime, I noticed something peculiar.

When the new TV scanned for available channels it searched for both analog, and digital channels. Come to find out the analog channels were just that, and were prefixed by the letter "A", such as channel 4 being "A4", but there was also another channel 4 as well. A three digit number, with a decimal point and a number after it. That was the digital version of the channel. The HD version. All without a cable box.

Hmmm. Seems the HD version of those channels broadcasting in HD is a available without a box. One just has to sacrifice the things that come with the box like schedules, information about shows, and "On Demand" programming.

Well, I did get the cable box, and installed it. The previously great picture became full of a rapid fire band of "snow" moving from the bottom of the screen to the top, over and over again. I called Charter Cable, and went through the trouble shooting with the tech on the telephone, and nothing solved the problem. He advised me to obtain another box, so I did.

Box number 2 just didn't work at all, so I called again, and more troubleshooting, and then he advised I get another box.

Box number 3 was the same as box number 1. Same snow, same bands of interference. More of the same with Charter, but then, the problem resolved itself on its own.

Very strange.

That is until this past Saturday. After more than one month of having a great picture, we are back to the wide bands of snow.

Last month a technician did come to the house, but he did not change the box out. He did install a signal booster in the basement to amplify the signal to all the TV's in the house. I am not sure if it worked, or not because when he finally did come out the TV was behaving. Could it be the TV itself? I doubt it, because when the TV is plugged directly into the cable, bypassing the cable box, it is fine.

So, this morning I made yet another appointment for the technician to come out and troubleshoot the cable problem on Friday afternoon. Since none of the other TV's in the house have the issue, and the cable to the TV is fine, it has to be the box itself. Just plain logic there.

Now, if Friday's appointment fails to fix the issue, what then? Do I continue to use the TV without the box? Well, I could, and get a great picture, but the convenience of the box would be gone. No more information about what I was watching, no more schedules of shows. It would be 1965 all over again except with a better picture, thinner TV, and stereo sound.

So, what's the big deal? I still have a signal. I have a good picture. That's not the point. The point is there is a problem, and Charter has yet to fix it.

We'll know more come Friday.

When a consumer receives bad service from anywhere, they often have the choice to shop around and find a better vendor. Competition also spurs companies to improve their product, and service. If you are the only game in town, there is little that will cause you to change for the better. A multi year contract insures you will be around for a while.

I wish Verizon Fios was here now. I'd switch in a heartbeat. There are other providers out there available to Sturbridge, such as Direct TV, and the Dish Network, but they are satellite providers, and having had Direct TV in the past, I am not willing to stare at a blank TV screen during a heavy rain storm or when it snows heavily.

I guess I am spoiled in a way. Just like I am spoiled having a car, and not a horse and buggy, or cooking on a stove instead of a fire pit. Progress just does that to you.

The cable contract is coming up for renewal. We are between a rock and a hard place now. We have less than three months to either find a replacement company, or to renew the contract for three to ten years, or have some competition come to town.

I'd only like an option. That's all, just an option to choose something over the current vendor.

I am hoping that option comes to pass over the next couple of months. If not, well there is not much I can do. That's the hard part, being powerless, or in the case of Charter Communications, signal-less.


  1. Good Afternoon,

    My name is George Vick, I'm a Communications Specialist with Charter Communications. We would like to assist you in getting your issues resolved. It looks like you’ve had a less than desirable experience recently and we would like to change that. I would like to personally work with local management on your issue. Please contact our group at so we can make sure this is resolved.

    Thank you.


  2. Dear George,

    Thank you for writing. I have booked a technician to come out to the house this Friday between 1PM and 3PM. Hopefully this time will be the last time.


    Wally Hersee

  3. I have recently spent six days trying to receive internet services from charter with no help. I have moved to a new house and wanted to transfer my internet service. I had a technician come to the house on Saturday 8/29 to install my high speed internet. Well, when I went to use it, we had no internet service. We called Charter the next day and was told there was an "outage" in the area and that service we be up by the end of the day. Monday came and still no service. I called to have a technician come out to the house Tuesday between 12p and 2p. I received no confirmation call and when no one showed at 2pm I called once again. I was told by the appointment representative that I cancelled the appointment in which I clearly did not. I stayed home from work that day just to get my internet service connected. So, I made an appointment for Wednesday between 5p-7p. Once again no one showed up and when called I was told I cancelled the appointment. This time I received the automated call but was disconnected before being able to confirm the appointment. This time I left work early to get home for the technician. One more time I rescheduled and was told a technician could come out between 7p-9p that night. I received a call a 6:30 telling me about the appointment but that there was no reason to call back and I would receive another call before the technician arrived. No call, no show. I called the representative at 9pm and was told that they called to tell me that no one could come at that time...I received no call. I currently have an appointment today, Thursday 9/3/09. I am told a real "live person" will call to schedule a time. My husband and I both use the internet for work purposes and have now spent almost a week without internet access...I am very disappointed with Charter service, in fact we have already switched our cable service to Dish TV a few months ago because we were so disappointed with Charter when we switched to an HD cable box and had difficulties with the reception. I am not a fan of satellite TV however we have had no problems with our TV since switching to Dish TV. It is a hard situation to be in when we have no choice but to wait for internet service from Charter since that is the only service provider available to my area at this time. As soon as another provider comes to town I will be switching. I don't understand why I can't get someone to come set up my internet for me. I have lived in Boston for many years as well as in Western Massachusetts and never had any issues with my cable provider (Comcast) to help me with me cable and internet needs. I hope we can get Verizon Fios into town soon.

  4. Seems like you are, and have been experiencing, what many people here in town have as well. We should form a support group.

    This would be a good test for Charter Customer Service. As the first comment above states, Charter does want to help, so lets put them to the test.
    Write to, and tell them your story. Save some time and copy and paste your comment above in the email, and then wait and see, and let me know how it goes, too. Good or bad, it will be worthwhile following up on it.

  5. Wally,
    I'm a new homeowner in Sturbridge and stumbled upon your post here while searching on Google for any news about Verizon Fios or Comcast coming to Sturbridge. Anyways, I just wanted to offer some comments that may clarify a couple of things.

    I believe the reason you were getting HD channels both with the standard (i.e. NON-HD) box and directly connecting the co-axial cable to your TV is that your TV most likely has a built in HD antenna. Many but not all HDTVs nowadays have a built in antenna to recieve over-the-air HD channels. These channels are broadcast free of charge over the air but you are likely only to pick up the major networks (CBS, ABC, FOX, NBC, etc). Technically you can get a TV with this capability and not suscribe to any type of cable and be able to recieve these few channels (assuming reception is decent).

    I also wanted to comment on the technician that came to your house. It boggles my mind that you were having a "snow" problem and they wanted to install a signal booster. The HD boxes are digital and assuming you have digital cable service, a signal booster is irrelevant. Digital is either ON or OFF...there is nothing in between. With analog, your picture quality is enhanced by a signal booster because the signal is amplified. With digital however, all your cable box is sending your TV is a bunch of 1's and 0's so when it works, it works and when it doesn't work, you won't see anything. Now I'm assuming you have digital cable service with HD if you have an HD box but I'm wondering why you're seeing "snow." When my TV goes out, its just black.

    Either way I agree with you about Charter....I'm fed up with their service already and I've had them for mere months. I've had charges on my bill for no reason and laughable customer service support through their online help. Their TV service is terrible, with some channels omitting buzzing sounds or the picture freezing up sometimes (and I know its not a problem on my end because other channels will be perfectly fine). Their internet and phone services are alright but my internet connection has operated much slower on occasion and has even quit on me for minutes at a time...enough times for me to get upset.

    I doubt FIOS will be here anytime soon...the expasion process is very slow for them particularly becuase of the hoops they have to jump through with getting agreements set up with individual towns/cities. Right now I'm hoping for Comcast which is probably more realistic for the short term.

  6. The "snow" problem was resolved (see other posts regarding Charter). It was the box. Why they put a signal; booster on the coax? Well, a signal is a signal, but it didn't help since it was the box. No, I don't have a built in high def antennae in my TV, any digital TV with HD will play HD channels straight from the coax with out a box. One must have a way to tune them, though. They must have a remote that allows one to enter the right channel. Channel; 7 is "7" in analog format, but 102.7 as a digital channel (not sure of exact number). You enter that number for the channel, and Voila!!, you got HD! Charter will eventually filter this, but for now, it's a no brainer. Down side is there is no box, therefore no channel guide, or information button available.

  7. Sorry you re having an issue with Charter, no surprise,. Try contacting the gentleman at the top of the comments, he may be able to help you.


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