In the world of customer service, it appears as though the providers who we depend on the most – cable companies, power companies, and airlines – are the equivalent of the bad boys our mothers told us to avoid. Yet despite her urging, we keep going back for more neglect and abuse.

In this case, however, we’re repeat offenders not because we’re insecure or thrive on the thrills of being rebellious – but because certain industries have created monopolies that have stifled competition and the need to provide exceptional customer service.

For example, it’s Sunday night and I’m ready for the perfect date with a glass of wine, a comfortable spot on the sofa and an episode of Downton Abbey. No sooner had I heard Laura Linney announced, “This is Downton Abbey,” when the screen went as black as Carson the butler’s livery.

Attempting to remain calm, I took a few deep breaths as I asked myself, “What would the Dowager Countess do?” Wasting little time, I contacted my cable provider (name withheld to protect the senseless) only to be dropped in a maze navigated by an infuriatingly calm automatic attendant. Doesn’t she realize that life altering moments are being inflicted upon the Grantham family that I must know about? As I struggled to keep focused on the countless commands being asked of me, I thought of bad boyfriends from years past who never answered their phone leading me to question, why won’t he answer? What is he doing? Who is he with? All I need is to speak to him and everything will be better.

Finally, to my relief, a human voice was heard on the line. I immediately rushed through the details of my issue expecting the service rep to simply flick a switch and return me to the idyllic world of Yorkshire where there are no cable issues or automated attendants. But alas, the resolution offered was a service call the following day with a four-hour window. Again, bad boyfriends from years past echoed through my head, “Sure we can go out sometime. I got nothing better to do. How about the drag races tomorrow?”

Not surprisingly, the four-hour window came and went. As I sat looking out my window for the white van I hoped would come, I remembered nights spent waiting for a black Pontiac Firebird to pull into my parent’s driveway. Eventually both arrived, though two hours late in both cases.

Neither offered an apology nor attempted to impress me with even an illusion that they cared. The service technician went to work troubleshooting the problem just as quickly as my loutish boyfriend pointed to the door and said, “Let’s motor.” In the end, the service technician resolved the issue, enabling me to catch up on the aristocratic escapades via On Demand which I realize now is well worth the ridiculous monthly fee. However, if I had options for cable service, I expect I would get programs On Demand in addition to Quality Service On Demand.

As for the boyfriend, we made it to the drag races that night where I paid for our admission plus a trip to the concession stand. But as I stood in line waiting to pay for our hot dogs and sodas, I realized I had made my last concession and would no longer put up with this kind of treatment. Unlike cable companies, there are other fish in the sea.