Appeal to consumer agency will accomplish nothing

I’m sure anybody and everybody who has the misfortune of being a customer of Amnet or Cable Tica can identify with William Ruzicka’s complaints about his lousy service and frustrating experiences. Neither company has the personnel, the expertise or the equipment to deliver what they’re advertising. In fact, if truth be told, both companies are perpetrating a disservice on the people of Costa Rica by promising one level of service and continually failing to provide what they promise.

Somewhere in the maze of government agencies in San José, there is one that should be monitoring the quality of the service these companies are providing to their long suffering customers. But I’ll be damned if anybody can tell me which agency is charged with this duty. All I know is that they’re not doing it, and I have a hard time believing that they care much about it. (They’re probably not being paid enough to care).

Mr. Ruzicka suggested that anybody who shares his frustration with these companies should consider filing a claim with the Dirección de Apoyo al Consumidor. I can tell you from personal experience that this will accomplish nothing. You’ll be lucky if you get a hearing inside of two years, and even if you prevail as the complainant, as I did nine years ago against a corrupt importer, the person/company found at fault can just ignore the courts findings and directives. The agency has no real enforcement power, and so if someone ignores them, the case goes to court and the waiting game starts all over again. And for some reason known only to them, this agency will not allow a consumer to recover legal fees from the company they’re complaining about. So unless the claim is in the thousands of dollars, it’s not worthwhile to file a complaint.

The only possible remedy for these many shortcomings on the part of the cable companies would be a government intervention, and the odds of that happening/creating any meaningful change are just about zero. The only other option is to dump cable in favor of a satellite dish, and we all know what happens to the quality of a satellite signal when it rains. This is the tradeoff we all make for living in the Third World. There’s no getting around it.

While we’re talking about T. V., I want to voice my own frustration over the continually dwindling amount of English language programming on cable. CINECANAL and FX both recently went to all Spanish formats, as have many other cable channels over the last few years. Clearly, someone at a very high level in the cable industry is making these decisions, and the message to their English-speaking clients is clear as a bell, (unlike their broadcast signals). They don’t care about us or our business! At this rate, we’ll soon find English programming only on ABC/NBC/CBS. I’m told that we may see some improvement overall when the companies go digital, but based on how poorly they’re handling their high-speed Internet connections, it may be some time before Costa Rican television enters the 21st century. Time to read a book, I suppose.

Dean Barbour
Manuel Antonio

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