"Brian Becker is responsible for all of this..." or "This was the way Becker wanted to do it..."

May 05, 2011

Dear Cable Internet customers,

Amazing how I’m now being blamed for this Monday deadline. I know many (or maybe most) of you have been told by the clerks at MyCityCable that somehow I’m responsible for all of this so I’d like to at least attempt to set the record straight.

I met with Michael Pry & David Presley on Tuesday, April 5th, and confirmed that if we lost our injunction we could provide them an electronic list of all customers within days of the judgment being rendered to transfer over. David Presley took me into Mr. Bach’s office, who agreed to the same.

We all agreed that the customer should not suffer because of our differences or the lawsuit.

On Monday, May 2nd after we learned of the Injunction ruling, we contacted Pry, Presley & Bach and asked if our customers would have to reset their modem after they had transitioned them from SEMO.net to MyCityCable. Pry responded that it would not be necessary.

On Wednesday, May 4th, at 7:53AM I sent them the list of all our residential customers. Presley & Pry called me around 3pm and said that Bach had decided the following:

The City has decided to make NO assumption of service for SEMO.net customers
TO HAVE SERVICE: Customer must call by Noon on Monday May 9th
Customers who call after noon on Monday or do not call at all will be disconnected at 4:30pm
Customers who are disconnected will not get back online until the morning after they call MyCityCable

I expressed how wrong this was and that there was no way for all these customers to contact them by Monday noon and this was not fair to these people. They said it was because people had called up and said they didn’t want to switch to MyCityCable. I expressed that MOST of the SEMO.net customers did not want to switch but they all have been made aware that it must happen. I reminded them of our conversation on April 5th and they agreed to go back to Bach and ask again about a block transition.

Ten minutes later, Presley called back and said Bill has decided that if you [Brian] take full responsibility for all customers and assure us [the City] they want to switch to MyCityCable and that if they call to complain we can tell them that Brian Becker is the one who has forced you [the customer] to switch to MyCityCable: THEN we [City] will do this as a block transition. Presley emphasized that he needed to receive an email from me assuring my responsibility.

That was clearly a trap that I could not step into.

At 3:30pm yesterday we emailed all our cable Internet customers about the new change and demand upon our users. Shortly after we began calling each customer to make sure they saw the email and answered their questions. We called 300 customers by 9pm and the rest were called this morning. Staff worked tirelessly and even a former employee heard of the issue and came in to make calls for 3 hours.

After more than 20 reports that I was being blamed for all this I sent the following message to Pry, Presley & Bach:

Michael & David,
Others are now calling in saying that one of your representatives at the counter is telling people that this is Brian Becker’s fault that all the customers are having to contact MyCityCable to switch. Please stop your agents from saying this.

Your team decided this was how it was to happen, your team called me and told me how this would happen. We all know the truth that you called back and said “Only if I would send you a personal assurance with personal responsibility for each customer who is switched over to your service” would you do this bulk change. You could have billed me if they canceled your service or any number of things had I accepted those terms.

We both know you made a huge mistake in your decision to handle these customers in this way. How about accepting the responsibility for the ramifications of that mistake rather than pass it off on me.


I have not received a response to this message.

Many have noted the stark contrast between their phone call(s) from SEMO.net explaining how to switch away from SEMO.net with the attitude received from City Cable clerks when trying to sign up for MyCityCable. How curious that SEMO.net was apologetic and encouraging while losing a customer, and MyCityCable seemed put out while gaining a customer.

For now, the comments on this blog post are open, please be respectful. I know there are a lot of frustrations swirling so please refrain from being personal or vindictive toward either SEMO.net or the city with your words.

  1. Jeanie

    One word, dial up. Second word, satellite. Third idea, class action lawsuit by the clients affected against the city. They want a monopoly, I thought that was illegal? Even the phone company was split up because of being a monopoly!

  2. jerry mcdowell

    so much for the free market-corp greed has triumphed

  3. David Palmer

    I can’t help wondering if there isn’t a long-term plan placed into the minds of the City Council. City Cable (the tv portion of cable services offered) has a viable competitor over which they have no serious control (satellite) so they need to stay price competitive in that market. If I understand the situation correctly (not easily done with all the apparent twists and turns and conflicting claims) they are only allowed to charge their customers enough to cover their expenses. Once they have no competition for internet cable connection, what will stop them from shifting the costs of doing business to the internet access pricing in an effort to keep the pricing schedule for cable tv more competitive with the satellite prices?

  4. Teresa Holland

    I was called by Semo.net and was informed in a very business like manner that i needed to call City Cable prior to May 9th. I did so. It took 3 times to get anyone answer the telephone. On May 9th I had to call City Cable to do a few adjustment and all was fine. With out internet my business Ozark Marketing Supplies is at a standstill. Since May 9th my clients and their promotional needs have slowed down due to my emails coming back to me . The only emails coming coming back are Semo.net customers.
    I have called each client to make sure they have not changed their email address . This is costing me time & money. City Cable should of left this to the professionals at Semo.net.
    I am sure my bill from city cable will not reflect my time lost.
    What a joke !

  5. Vanette

    Brian, I know I have bugged you to death and I am sorry but I want so much to stay with your company. I do not like losing such good service and dealing with nice people.
    I just hope city cable will be helpful but as long as I have had any dealings with them I have only met “one” nice person in that office and her name is Mary.
    You know we are living in a sad country where people don’t care about each other. I just hope the ones responsible for this can lay down to sleep and not have to have this on their minds about what they have done to a lot of people.
    I agree with Marty, there needs to be some chain rattling, big time!!!
    Everyone can be replaced and they better think about this!
    I know in my heart that you are going to come up with something for us and I pray every night for you, family, employees and anyone else involved in this mess.

  6. Marty

    Brian, I am not amazed at the chain of events. When an individual gets into a position of power, be it federal, state or local, they begin to feel un-touchable and pretty well do as they please. Bill Bach, to his suprise is not un-touchable! He has a boss and it is called the city council. If we could get enough people to start rattling their chains, Bachs’ attitude could be changed. If we continue to allow this man to run his little world like a mini tyrant, it will only get worse and start effecting other parts on muni-utilities. “May God Bless You Man……”

  7. Carolyn

    So I gather that customers outside Poplar Bluff are not impacted? [correction: some customers outside the city get access from the City Cable network. If you have a city-cable $5 modem fee on your Municipal Utility bill then you are affected] In today’s crazy world, makes me suspicious if they are against your political leanings. Hmmmmmmmmmm? Hang in there.

  8. Maridel Reed

    It is sad that a business such as yours has to close because of a power struggle. [Correction: we’re not closing! Losing cable hurts us, but we still have other services available. — semo.net] Poplar Bluff needs more business’s that provide quality service which yours did. Walmart has forced small business to close and should they choose to expand to Internet services there may be more closings. I am sure that when this is all over you will be successful in whatever you decide to do. Thanks again for the service you provided me. Maridel

  9. Peter Tinsley

    Brian, I am amazed at the chain of events. I really wonder if it is over or if this is just a bump in the road. I encourage you to persist and fight if there is any way to get a judgment. I know that’s easy for me to say. Lawsuits are expensive and hard to judge the outcome.

    I just got a call from Big River and they are apparently cashing in on the situation promoting DSL. I have never been a cable fan and never will. I encourage you to pursue other avenues of technology. I know you have been somewhat successful in wireless. There has got to be other ways.

    You are a brilliant man. Think outside the box and let God work His miracles through you. City Cable is trying to back people into a corner with total disregard to customer service. People do not have to stay with them, there are other services. Be one of them.

    Again, I know it is easier for me to say than it is for you to do but I encourage you to keep up the good fight. You know you are trying to offer a good service to your customers and they know it too.
    God Bless You
    You are in our prays

  10. Cindy Fuller Perkins

    If the city was a regular buisness entity in the retail market, this fiasco could have NEVER happened!! I have owned a business in PB for 30 years and have always had a friendly relationship with my “product specific” competitors. In a free market environment, it takes ‘getting along to get along’. Apparently not so if you have lots of power and don’t care about your customers, as you are the only game in town. It is a very sad day in our town that the free economy has suffered to such extent that the city would actually put small business’s Out of Business. Especially one who led the way in the technological savvy to open the way for new directions.
    My heart goes out to the Becker family in the loss of their livelyhood…..

  11. Barbara Rexroat

    OMG….. Where are the people who supervise or oversee those who are the directors of our city cable company??? Does honor and integrity mean nothing anymore?

  12. jerry mcdowell

    this is nothing more than a power struggle. the way i see it providers for internet are free markets –the customer should have the right to choose . but instead the customer gets the shaft while the provider gets the $$$$$$ !

  13. Daniel Pruett

    It appears that MyCityCable has no moral problems with pulling what is essentially a DoS on these customers. If I were a business customer being impacted by this, I would bill MyCityCable for the downtime. What about the business customers who may he hosting their own mail server? In this economy, missing an email may very well mean losing a contract. This is what happens when non-technical people make critical technical decisions-end users suffer.