Thursday, September 08, 2011

How Time Warner Lost A Customer

Sorry for the lack of posting, it's been a busy few weeks, including a nice trip to Baltimore and Cleveland.

About a year ago, we moved into our current residence. Prior to moving, Time Warner Cable was offering a nice Triple Play Package - for $99/month, we would get phone, cable internet, and cable, including HDTV reception in two rooms, and we wouldn't be tied to a contract. Great, we signed up.

The disasters started immediately. First, they didn't show up on installation day. When we called them about it, they apologized but said they tried to call our home phone to reschedule. Except, we didn't have a home phone yet, because that's what they were coming to set up! Brilliant. They reschedule for about 2 weeks (!) later. If I'm remembering right, nobody shows again, we call and complain again, they want to reschedule for a week later, then someone shows up and does a nice job installing everything. A week later they call to make sure we're home for the installation, and when we tell them someone came the week before, they seem surprised. Odd. After numerous calls and complaints, we are given free cable channels we don't want and free DVR for 1 year which we didn't need, but isn't horrible. Woo.

A few months later we realize we're getting charged for an HDTV box. We never ended up buying a second TV nor can we hook up the laptop to the cable (need an IR thingy which I can't seem to find), so the second HD box is just sitting in our living room unused. We ask them about it, and they insist that only one HD box is free... except we were told differently. I have them remove the charges and tell them they're welcome to come collect the HD box, which has never been used. They agree to this, and that's that... until the guy comes to get the box. He calls well out of the time that I said worked, when I was not home, so I suggested calling back a couple hours later. He said fine. He never showed. I forgot about it (I don't use the box, it's out of the way), until I saw I kept getting charges. I called and complained again. The service reps insisted they could only remove 3 months of wrongful charges, which was ridiculous. Finally someone collected the HD box, and I called back again to get the rest of the months back.

I should probably add that every call required approximately 1 hour of my time, between putting in my information 3-4 times on each call as I got shuttled from service to service, wait times, and actual conversation. It's atrocious. Recently we saw charges for the DVR service. They claimed we only were supposed to get 6 months free (false), despite the fact they had given 8 months already. I simply told them to look at the history. Once again, after much arguing, someone finally gave the charges back.

Through all that, and a couple outages, we kept the services... but then it all really went to hell. A few weeks ago, while videoconferencing for the first time simultaneously with a few people, the conference froze. I thought perhaps it had been too much for the computer. I checked everything - it was fine. I noticed nothing online was working, so I checked and restarted the router, the cable box, the computer... all to no avail. Then I noticed the phones were out, so I called (using my minutes) from my cell. A very nice lady checked to make sure there were no outages in our area, then did everything she could to help, all to no avail - all told, about an hour of time yet again. Meanwhile, I can't do anything other than use my cell. When we finished all that, she got notice of an outage in our area. Fair enough - I asked about compensation, she said that I should call for it after the outage is over (it lasted a number of hours or so in the end). No problem.

When I called for compensation, I asked for what I felt was a reasonable amount. The customer service rep claimed that they have fixed amounts in case of an outage, and offered me about $15 - an amount I thought was insulting. I asked for the manager, and was put through... and waited. And waited. And waited some more, for over 40 minutes. At that point I received the biggest jerk ever to work in customer service.

Mr. Manager was rude from the get go. When I noted that I'd been on the phone almost an hour, he said nothing, just ignored it and kept talking. I stopped him to note that he should at least apologize for my wait, and he grumbled something or other. When I explained the situation, he said the customer service rep had made an error: He should have offered three dollars and fourteen cents. Incredulous, I said that's insane, and again asked for a more reasonable amount. He insisted that $3.14 was the appropriate rate. We argued for half an hour, with him being incredibly rude the entire time. I asked for his manager - he insisted he was in charge and had no manager, and that he was the top ranking person at night. After 20 minutes more of this, including my demanding a transcript of the call and his insisting that he couldn't put me to his boss' voicemail and that in fact nobody has voicemail or email there, I asked for a call back from his boss, which he said he could do. I asked why he hadn't offered - he didn't reply. He put in for me to get a call back and a transcript.

I never got either.

When I called again, the customer service rep and her boss were both properly appalled and took down my info. They gave me back $25, the max they said they are allowed, and suggested calling the customer retention department when I noted that other services were offering very nice deals.

I then went online to ask for the customer retention department number. The chat agent immediately gave me the number - great. I called the number, and it started ringing. And ringing. And ringing. And ringing. I started a new chat, and the new agent gave me all the canned responses "I understand your frustration", etc. He took a few minutes, but gave me a new number... the regular customer service line. No thanks, I said - if I wanted to waste another hour of my time going through four levels of people to get to customer retention I'd have done so, but oddly, I'm not in the mood. I suggested that if TWC wants to retain a customer, they can call me. He said they can't set up a call from the chat service as I wished him a good day.

Oh well. Bye-bye, Time Warner.


  1. very very frustrating. I just hope others are better. We have Fios and our dealing with them was just as frustrating (though I guess I eventually I worked it out, although that is probably because I willing to waste even more time than you). But we had the immediate disasters, promises of service that never happened, totally impossible and rude customer service agents, repeated outages of phone/internet use. Again eventually eventually it worked out. But it take too many hours on the phone and agmas nefesh than you would think necessary for this. Hatzlacha finding your replacement (I mean that seriously, not sarcastically - I feel for you).

  2. You pay 100 bux a month for cable... that's just over $3 a day, which is just over 14 cents an hour.

    How much did you expect as a refund for an outage of a few hours?

  3. It's customer service. Even their other reps were appalled.

    Service providers who don't provide expect (or should expect) to give back more than the charges in such a situation: I wouldn't pay $97/mo to get service 97% of the time, it wouldn't be worth it.

    I asked for less than $75 total in credits, to make up not just for the outage but all the time spent and rudeness received.

    Anon1 - Thanks. Fios isn't available here, or I'd get it. I'm leaning toward DirectTV (NFL!!) and keeping TWC for cable internet until Fios is here, and getting rid of phone. Hopefully the cable doesn't cut out again.

  4. Now you know why our home phone is a landline phone, and I hope to keep it that way. Even during power outages and cable problems, landline phones work.

  5. 2 things:

    i dont know if you live in NYC (5 boroughs) but i believe NYC has a law that if TWC misses an appointment to install you get a month free. look into that.

    also, i had similar issues with TWC. the best thing i did was to write a complaint to the Better Business Bureau. within 1 week i got all my money back and everything was resolved.

  6. Thanks, great to know. I'll try that.

    The appointment missed was a year ago, wish I'd known that.

  7. Seinfeld episode: the cadillac.
    Kramer faces off against the cable guy. Apparently the cable guy never showed up to any of his appointments to fix the cable.

    1 year later, he needs to gain access to Kramer's apt to fix it so that Kramer will stop getting premium channels that he's not paying for. Kramer keeps making appointments and not ahowing up. etc.

    it's a 2 parter, it was on crackle last month.

  8. Oh, Time Warner was trainer by Verizon, I see. Not surprised. At all.

    But honestly, I think you were asking for an awful lot in credits for an hour-long outage.

  9. It was out for about 3 and a half hours, plus I spent an hour on the phone. This was after all the other issues. I didn't necessarily think I'd get $72, but I certainly felt that less than $15 was insulting.

  10. And more correctly, that they felt $3 was appropriate.

  11. that's frustrating :(

    (we use twc too. mainly cos husband used to work there, thankfully haven't had any recent hassles with them.)

    if you use cable for work that could be 3 hours of lost work they'd need to compensate.

  12. Which is what I told them. I happen to be out of work, but I was looking at various jobs that day. What if I missed a lead?

  13. wait a minute...

    you have a tv??????????

  14. Just know that if you get FiOS (when it is available in your area) you are stuck with Verizon for all your services, and can't switch phone companies no matter least not for the next while!

  15. Horrible. Though, I wonder, does this weaken your faith at all in the relative merits of private firms vs. public agencies? ;)

  16. HH - For years.

    LS - Good to know, though I'd probably go without phone. Fios still isn't available here, so we just switched to DirectTV (same price as Time Warner, but I get the NFL! :D ) for TV, and am going to try and port our phone number to Google Voice. Then I'll cancel all but TWC internet, and switch to Fios as soon as it's on our block. It's currently on the next block, but not ours.

    VP - LOL no, it strengthens it: I just switched to a competitor because I could. If it were government, I'd be stuck. I think that's actually one of the most underrated factors of capitalism.

  17. Time Warner has the best Porn channels.