Wednesday, September 14, 1994

Arkow! Arkow!
He's our man! G-o-o-o Robert!

I am standing solidly in the corner this morning, cheering and rooting for Canyon Country's Robert Arkow.

Robert Arkow, my MAN!

In case you missed it, Robert Arkow has sued Time-Warner Cable Television. Not a big, multi-layered, spiral-bound, timeconsuming, thoroughly lawyered, several appeals-until-it's-done suit. No. Not anything a flush and healthy corporation can logically look at and render a who-cares shrug and nonchalantly pick up the phone and dial one of its flock of attorneys and tell him or her to pounce on Robert Arkow.

Huh-uh. It's a small-time suit, small stuff, small claims court. No attorneys permitted, thank you. He only seeks about $2,000 in damages plus whatever a lawyer will charge him to draw up a permanent restraining order. Which should fall somewhere between $100, and $75,000, depending on the attorney's self-esteem. It is not so much a threat to Time-Warner as it is a nuisance ... a pesky interruption. I love it. Go Robert Arkow!

As with a lot of us, Arkow has had it with telephone solicitors. Twice, he says, the local cable company's telemarketers called to hustle specials or deals. On the first call, he asked not to be called again. And to add insult to injury, not only did they call a second time, but they did it to offer a special rate on a premium service to which he already subscribed and you know what the fine print usually says: to new subscribers only.

I know how he feels. I have paid for the service call, the connection fee, the new outlet, all totalling $80 or $90, only to turn it on a week later to hear, "Sign up for HBO today ... special, this month only ... $10! Call, 1-800-555-1234! New subscribers only, please."

And I grit my teeth and spit. Go Robert Arkow!

And Mr. Arkow talks a good game. He says the law states we can have our name placed on a "Do Not Call" list, so that when the solicitors clock in at the beginning of their shift and clamp on the headphones, they won't include us on their night's agenda.

He adds a taste of dire warning, too: Most of our mail is junk mail, he says, and with postal rates rising at the same time telephone rates are falling, pretty soon marketing companies will forget about the U.S. Mail and just simply call us around supper time. Makes sense to me, and if your Saturday mail is anything like mine, you HAVE to pull for Robert Arkow.

And he slides from dire warning into haughty, indignance. With any other business, he says, he would simply stop trading with it as a show of protest against its uninvited telephone calls. But he can't do that with the cable TV company, because, as in every other city on the face of this planet, THERE IS ONLY ONE DAMN CABLE COMPANY AVAILABLE TO THE CITY'S RESIDENTS There is nowhere else to go except "without."

And for the record, I have no ill feelings toward Time-Warner Cable. But like Robert Arkow, I resent telephone solicitors, particularly when they take me from in front of my cable-connected TV to ask if I want to subscribe to cable.

Fight the good battle Mr. Arkow, fight it for all of us, and let us know how you do.

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