I Couldn't Possibly Accept Your Offer Of Basic Cable Plus Showtime For Just $33 Per MonthCommentary • Entertainment • Opinion • products • tv • ISSUE 43•38 • Sep 19, 2007 By Julian Lam Let me start by saying that I am flattered by this gesture. We barely know each other, and you come to me with this—well, there's no other word for it—generous offer. $33 for more than 200 channels, plus free Showtime for one year? What have I done to deserve such an enormous gesture of magnanimity? As far as I can see, the only qualifications I have as a cable subscriber are having a residence and a cable outlet. Whoo! I feel dizzy. Let me gather my wits here. This must be what it feels like to win an Oscar. All this for me? It's not like I'm the president of a major corporation or anything. I just work as a teller at a bank. Perhaps you've made a mistake, and you think I'm some other Julian Lam. I mean, at least consider raising my rates after the first year. Please. It would make me feel a lot better. Twelve months of free Showtime. Holy cow. Just stop and think for a second—that's a full year of quality Hollywood blockbusters and daring original series like Weeds. In fact, you know what? It's too much. Let me throw in an extra $10 a month for the Showtime. I absolutely insist. I'm still getting the bargain of a lifetime, but I won't be taking advantage of you. I couldn't live with myself if I did. Wait, back up: This isn't the old-fashioned analog cable? If I'm reading this promotional flyer correctly, you're offering me state-of-the-art digital broadcasting. Now, come on! Look, tell you what—why don't you come down to my bank tomorrow, and I'll hook you up with a free checking account or something, because this is too much. With the digital-quality reception you're offering, how can you possibly break even on this deal? That stuff is done with computers, and I know those aren't cheap. Next thing you're going to tell me, this includes some high-definition channels, and for only $5 more a month, I can get an HD-DVR. At least have the wherewithal to charge some sort of penalty, like a cancellation fee, to those customers who welch on this great deal, because surely that will happen. You need to protect yourself somehow. How about this—if I sign on for this cable package, I'll cover any taxes or hidden surcharges. I don't know what they would be offhand, but I'd assume there would be something like a franchise fee and an FCC regulatory fee and a line charge. $10 to $15 extra? No sweat. Oh, okay. I didn't realize a converter box is involved here. How much does that cost? Probably $500, right? No? What? You're throwing that in there too? No equipment purchases necessary? You are being far, far too kind. Don't you have employees to pay, a family to feed? Perhaps you should give it to someone who deserves it. I've had plenty of breaks, believe me. I got the first two months of my gym membership for only $19.99, and once I got a year subscription to Time for more than 50 percent off the cover price. There's got to be someone out there who's down on his luck and could use a deal like this. Forget the year thing I mentioned earlier—raise my rates in six months. You can't run a global communications empire this way. No, stop. Don't even bring up free installation. I live on the fourth floor of my building, and it's dangerous to climb up there with power tools. Let me do it. I know my way around a drill, and I used to paint houses in college. Just give me the instructions and I can do the job. All right, but if you're going to do it, take your time—let me wait at home all day so your installer doesn't put himself out. Hold on. This includes The Movie Channel too? This is getting downright foolish. Sirs, were you not part of a giant corporate merger a couple years back? Surely you have creditors at the door. What would your shareholders say? I sincerely hope you won't offer, even for a limited time, home phone service free on your state-of-the-art advanced fiber-optic network for the first three months and—My God.You must have the wrong idea. Look, I thank you for your offer, really, but I am in actuality doing quite well for myself, and I refuse to be treated as a pity case. The only way I will even consider this is if you guarantee frequent outages, poor customer service, and a contract that I couldn't get out of even with the best lawyers in the world. I await your response.