Zito Media officially began upgrades to its cable television service in St. Marys on Monday and customers were quick to vent their frustrations with the process.
Among the upgrades being offered is the addition of over 60 high-definition (HD) channels. In order to receive the high-definition channels, customers need to obtain an HD digital receiver box, the installation of which has proven vexing for some.
"We picked up the boxes and hooked them up today. One TV is working, the other isn't. Does it have to be this hard?," Patty Carpin Posteraro of St. Marys said.
Customers also described lengthy lines and phones ringing off the hook at the company's St. Marys office.
"I stopped down at the office and there was a line formed out the door and you can't get through on the phone," Posteraro said.
To deal with the increased call volume in the wake of the upgrade, the company has brought in technicians like Mike Piccoli, an all-purpose tech from Youngstown, Ohio.
Piccoli said a high call volume and customer confusion is typical with the sudden implementation of an upgrade like that undertaken by Zito Media in St. Marys.
"Once this is all smoothed out, it's going to be great, but they, I guess they made the change all of a sudden so you have not just one customer upgrading-- you have a whole bunch. With this being a new technology, you're going to have a few bumps," Piccoli said.
Piccoli acknowledged that there may be "system problems" or kinks associated with such a rapid and extensive upgrade, adding, "Switching this technology all in one day, yeah, it's going to be overwhelming."
He said that difficulties being experienced by customers may be caused by any number of factors, including "wiring, multiple splits, corrosion on the line."
"All the calls they handed me today, I was able to complete them with no issues. It's just a little wiring or getting the box set up. So I have [a] 100 percent success rate," Piccoli said.
Al Wilson, a systems technician with Zito Media, said the majority of the problems he is seeing lie with the individual home rather than the equipment or digital signal, which originates in Coudersport.
"I've been doing this for three days now and I ran into one system issue and I corrected that within 20 to 40 minutes and that just happened to be a piece of equipment hit by lightning. The biggest thing with the people is they don't understand, so when a problem is created they just get frustrated by it. I went to people's houses who hooked up their boxes and they had it right if they would have just read the screen and followed the instructions on the screen," Wilson said.
Wilson said as is the case with any sort of change, there is always a degree of difficulty and frustration.
"I've worked here 32 years and we've been through a ton of changes, they're all the same. Change is change, some people like it, some people don't like it. Unfortunately the industry has to progress," said Wilson.