Being the Gatekeeper Means You’re the Default

by Emily Jasper on August 5, 2009

It has already been acknowledged that my generation loves collaboration. There is nothing like working in a team to make you feel like you’re going to accomplish something. When you compare that to the hording generations before us, it presents an interesting dynamic. If you don’t understand the “hording” reference, think about those people who want to be the only keepers of information. It’s almost like holding a life raft when the ship is going down: you think it’ll save you but you forget about the freezing water.

Ok, so maybe not everyone older than me is a hoarder, but there are business practices in this generation that impact everyone, even if there isn’t someone in your own office displaying this behavior.

I’m talking about cable.

When I was in Virginia, we had Cox Communications, and they got me through college. I knew I could plug my TV in anywhere and expect certain shows on certain channels at certain times. I was never disappointed…even during hurricane season. They rocked.

I’ve moved a couple times since my Cox days and have officially decided that cable needs to change. Years ago, the country was divided among the large providers, and you got what you got. There weren’t choices in providers. You then had satellite and then came the telecos who began to lay their own line. If you had a cell and no reason to get a landline, your package could include cell service, cable, and internet. Many from my own generation don’t see the point of a landline if you have an office phone and cell. Why get a third number? This opened up triple plays/bundles to the twenty-somethings of America.

And yet not all the cell providers have been able to lay line. If you have lived in an apartment building you know what I mean. You know for a fact that the townhouse across the street gets service through a mobile provider, and you can’t get it because your building has a “contract.” And yet the triple win doesn’t count here. Your building and the provider win, but not you.

I spent an hour last night messing with the cables connecting my box because between the hours of 7:00pm and 9:00 Central (prime time hours), the signal blows. I watch shows in checkerboard.

This matters to me because we’re in a recession. Cable is my one luxury. I don’t spend money on other entertainment, and at the end of the day, when I pay my cable bill, the signal should #$@(&$! work.

And yet I’m caught in a monopoly situation by a small cable distributor. Monopoly situations aggravate my generation because of the need for a gatekeeper, as if that as a consumer, I am not worthy of understanding the complicated business situation this distributor handles. This distributor may not care that their poor service reflects on the larger cable provider (who might actually care).

Sure, there are a number of other things I can do to improve my situation: watch all shows on the internet; leverage Netflix’s streaming capabilities; find a friend who wants to have TV night. But me changing my behavior doesn’t help the 79 units in my building (not to mention the other buildings in the complex).

And even if I make demands for change, that’s investment on the part of the cable/mobile/satellite providers. It’s a recession, is that something I can expect?

It goes back to customer service. Do you want to be number one? Or is default good enough for you?

Should cable/satellite/wireless providers clean up their act to be more inclusive? No more monopolies and let the consumer choose? Should they aspire to be better because they know they aren’t the default anymore? Should we get rid of the gatekeeper mentality and open up the possibilities?

The views expressed in my blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.

Photo from clipart.