Last January, I wrote a column with the headline ‘FLOW + LIME = minus zero’. One of the most humorous responses was this: “Your LIME/FLOW equation must be the most accurate since Einstein’s famous solution!” What Albert Einstein discovered is that energy equals mass times the speed of light squared. And so his revolutionary equation: E=mc2.
You don’t have to be a genius like Einstein to know that something is fundamentally wrong with phone service in Jamaica today. The energy it takes to make a simple call is massive. And you certainly can’t do it at the speed of light. There is nobody I know who is not having some sort of trouble with telephone and Internet ‘service’.
For the last month or so, my old LIME line has been out of commission. First, there was a terrible, crackling sound when the phone was answered. If I was lucky, I could figure out who it was and ask the person to call back on my FLOW line. After a few days, even the crackling stopped. Complete silence!
I’ve called that dead number several times just to see what happens. The phone rings and then you get the voicemail prompt. But LIME voicemail is a thing of the past. I keep getting this recording, “This number does not subscribe to a voice mailbox service. Please try your call again later.”
I did subscribe to this service for which LIME charged a fee. But the service has been withdrawn without explanation. I would call 958-5858 to retrieve calls as usual and the number would be constantly busy. And when I call my LIME number on my FLOW phone, I can hear that the phone is not, in fact, ringing! There’s no service. No calls out; no calls in.
WHITE DOG FOR MONKEY
As for FLOW’s cable service! One-third of the channels, I occasionally watch have not been available for quite some time – including TVJ. What appears on the screen is this message: “Temporarily off the air. Please check back later. …” I just love that ellipsis, those three dots which mean that there is an omission of words.
This is how Wikipedia defines an ellipsis: “Depending on their context and placement in a sentence, ellipses can indicate an unfinished thought, a leading statement, a slight pause, an echoing voice, or a nervous or awkward silence. Aposiopesis is the use of an ellipsis to trail off into silence – for example: ‘But I thought he was …’ When placed at the beginning or end of a sentence, the ellipsis can also inspire a feeling of melancholy or longing.”
Well, I’m definitely feeling melancholic about those suspended channels. I’m longing for them to come back. But it looks as if that’s not going to happen any time soon. I’m paying for a service I’m no longer getting. It’s on-air robbery. And it seems as if FLOW feels absolutely no melancholy about cutting off these channels.
There’s just awkward silence. FLOW is offering no discount on the fee it charges for its stagnant channels. It’s quite a stink. The problems are widespread in my neighbourhood. And there’s nothing we can do about it. Except to switch to Digicel. And that’s swopping white dog for monkey, as I’ve been hearing. Same old problems!
Then one of the edgy comedies I watch now and then, Modern Family, is no longer available. What comes up is this message:
Due to broadcast restrictions, we are unable to air the current program on this channel. Please check your local listing to determine the availability of this program on another channel. Thank you for understanding.”
The modern families include a male couple parenting a little girl. Did one of our right-wing Christian groups lobby the Broadcasting Commission to take the show off the air? I could almost hear the fire and brimstone consuming Sodom and Gomorrah. But the restrictions had nothing to do with the commission.
During a call to FLOW last week, I was told that they do not have the broadcasting rights for the programme. Had FLOW been illegally selling a service all along for which it had no rights? What kind of murky dealings was the company engaged in?
And FLOW needs to come clean about all those stagnant channels. They are not temporarily off the air. Well, it depends on how FLOW defines temporary. For me, a day or two is temporary. Not an entire month. It looks as if these channels will not be flowing any time soon.
There’s another mess FLOW needs to clean up. More than a month ago, one of those huge backhoes tore down electricity and cable lines in my neighbourhood. Within a day, electricity was restored; and, soon after, cable service. But the old cable wire is still lying in the street. There must be at least 200 feet of cable. Why has FLOW not bothered to remove the waste? It’s not a good sign.
Unlike so many of my neighbours, I’ve not had too many problems with Internet service. I’ve been very lucky. It should not be a matter of luck. Consumers should get what we pay for. All the time! But it did strike me that after posting this . . .