FEBRUARY 25, 2008: ST. LOUIS, MO - When Richard Schneider, president of Antennas Direct, decided to hold a contest to see who had the worst cable horror story, he never expected the playful competition to reveal a tragic tale.
But, unfortunately, that's what happened.
Among the many hundreds of funny and whimsical stories Antennas Direct received during the contest, one stood out from the rest. It was not funny; it actually troubling.
A woman from Longview, Texas, sent in her story about the night her mother suffered a fatal heart attack, and she wasn't able to call 911. Her cable company provided her with phone service through a triple-bundle package, which included phone, Internet and television service.
On the way to the bathroom, the woman's mother collapsed. "The phone [service provided by cable] went out, and we could not call 911. So my sister went next door and called 911," she wrote.
Many cable subscribers who submitted horror stories vented their frustrations about the reliability of their cable service. They wrote about their cable service failing in the middle of the Super Bowl or during a special broadcast. But, in this case, cable service failure amplified the trauma of an emergency.
"My mother passed away that night and is no longer suffering, but that was really bad when everything went out," she wrote.
The sad story was a shock for Schneider. "The whole idea was about having some fun with people's frustrations over their cable providers," Schneider said. "It's just television. I didn't think anything bad would happen."
Part of the humor of the contest was providing the winner with $1,000 worth of stress counseling, along with a 42-inch TV and an HDTV antenna from Antennas Direct.
But offering the stress counseling to the winner in this case actually seemed appropriate, Schneider said.
"In the end, it makes me feel good to think that we are giving the winner something that she could probably use and that perhaps we could help in some way."
The contest started in December 2007 and ended in January 2008. The company received more than 200 entries.
Not all of the stories were disheartening. Many of the contest entries included funny stories that fell into one of three categories, Schneider said: cable men behaving badly, signal loss during sporting events and billing nightmares.
"Some of the stories were pretty funny," Schneider said. "Some stories had cable guys ruining flowerbeds, showing up drunk or knocking over lamps. Other stories talked about long, drawn-out disputes over dropped service, billing errors and overcharges."
Schneider plans to give a free a HDTV antenna to the top 20 runner ups in the contest.
About Antennas Direct
Antennas Direct is a St. Louis-based manufacturer and distributor of over-the-air antennas. The company was founded by Richard Schneider in 2003 and has since been widely recognized for superior product design and performance by a number of industry publications and mainstream media. Antennas Direct launched its unique digital OTA antennas in 2006. The antennas are designed to receive digital frequencies through which all future television will be broadcast after Feb. 17, 2009. The company continues to test and modify antenna designs, raising the bar by which antenna performance and appearance are measured. For additional information on Antennas Direct, visit www.antennasdirect.com.