Charter: There's A Problem With Your Internet? Here's The Disconnect Department

Charter Communications refused to fix Matt’s internet connection. Even two technicians, dispatched by Charter, told Matt his ISP was to blame for his weak service. When Matt called customer service to complain, he was transferred immediately to the disconnect department. Matt had internet service, but, “The internet just dies. Every ten minutes or so, the internet would just die. And it’s very annoying.”

Matt’s attempts to fix the problems were, how shall we say, less than successful.

CSR: Thank you for calling Charter tech support, my name is Bradley and how can I help you today?
Matt: Hi, I was calling to try to figure out where I need to go next with my service with you guys.
CSR: Try to go where…next?
Matt: Yeah, I’ve been having a lot of issues with my high-speed internet that you guys can’t fix, so I was trying to figure out what we need to do next to escalate this problem to get it fixed correctly.
*hold music*
CSR2: This is Christy with Charter, how can I help you?
Matt: Hi, what happened to the other guy that I was just talking to?
CSR2: That I’m not sure sir, the call just came in to me. I’m in the disconnect department, were you wanting to disconnect your service today?


Matt: Wow, are you kidding me? No, could you please put me back in tech support?
CSR2: For internet?
Matt: Uh-huh.
CSR2: Oh my goodness, I am so sorry. I wonder why they transferred you over here.

This was the latest in a series of slights Matt experienced over two months trying to fix his internet service. There was a problem in the line somewhere between his house and Charter’s central server. Charter was to blame, according to the techs dispatched by Charter. Matt began recording his calls to customer service.

Matt was paying $80 per month for a 10MB connection. The first tech visited Matt’s house to check the signals and equipment. He determined the problem was not in Matt’s house. Charter decided to dispatch a second tech, a tech supervisor with a laptop.

Matt raced home from work for his 5pm-8pm appointment. The tech with the magical laptop never showed. At 9pm Matt called Charter, only to be told the tech supervisor with the laptop was not really a supervisor, but a contractor. Matt replied: “The contractor let Charter down. Charter let me down.” Ouch.

For his trouble, Charter issued a $20 credit and flagged the problem as a “must do.” How committal. Another tech was scheduled for an all-day Saturday appointment. That tech didn’t show, either.

Furious, Matt called back again and received another credit and another appointment. This time, the tech appeared and promptly blamed Charter for the problems.

Matt called again:

CSR: Alright, bear with me just a second. They’re wanting to conference call me through the phone here. Give me just a minute, I’ll be back with you.
*hold*
CSR: Right now they’re asking me if anybody will be home between 8 am and noon on Friday morning.
Matt: No, why are they wanting to send somebody out?
CSR: Let me see here.
Matt: You guys have already sent two techs out that have said it’s not on my end, so why are we still coming back to my house?
CSR: Alright, give me just another minute here. Alright, what they tell me is that he wants to send somebody out because if the tech does not fix the problem right now, the only thing we can actually do is send somebody out to reassess the issue again.
Matt: Yeah, the tech is saying the issue is not fixable from here. This is out on like the backbone on Charter’s network somewhere. This isn’t at my house. The only thing that tech does is check my levels, check my modem, that’s it. Everything’s fine. The levels at the street are fine, the levels at my house are fine. They switched out the modem, it’s not the modem. There’s nothing else that tech’s going to do. I was specifically told that by the last tech that was sent out here. He didn’t understand while he was being sent out again. Why are we wasting my time sending another tech out?
CSR: I just gave them that information, give me another minute. Give me another minute, they’re contacting me again. Alright, Matt? What they told me is they have actually gotten word, they contacted dispatch to see what was going on, the dispatch told them that they had checked the server on the issue and the server is not the issue, that it’s either got to be neutral there or in the neighborhood.
Matt: Okay. Wow, this is like really pathetic. That’s not the issue. Anyone who knows anything about trace route knows that the issue’s not here. Trace route sends a packet out of my house to you guys, it’s not getting to you guys. So the network is not here, it’s on Charter.
CSR: Right, he’s saying that it’s somewhere more than likely toward the neighborhood or neutral to that location.
Matt: Okay, then what does he need to come to my house for?
CSR: I’m not really sure on that, any trouble call appointments at all they always need to make sure that somebody’s available.
Matt: Okay, so tell me this: What are you guys going to do when the third guy comes out to my house and says yet again that the issue’s not on my end. What then? You guys going to send another tech out to my house? When does it end?
CSR: I mean, that’s really the only thing that we can do from the tech support is send a technician out. Your local area is really responsible for getting that taken care of for you when they do come out. I mean the only thing that we have the accessibility to do is just go to the local office and say we need a tech out for this issue.
Matt: I mean this is like really pathetic. So I’m stuck in this loop of calling you guys when the tech comes out and says it’s not a problem here. There’s gotta be something we can escalate it to, there’s gotta be somebody that knows something about networks that can come out to my house and fix this. This is like the biggest waste of time I’ve ever seen. This has been going on for two months, now I’m going to have to sit home again from work for you guys to come out here and say yeah the levels are find, this is all I can do as a tech.
CSR: Alright, give me just a minute here and I’m going to talk to them one more time. Alright, sir? Thanks for holding for me. I gave them all the information that you said, the only thing they can do is the tech would have to go back out and check everything again because it’s nothing in the actual server.
Matt: This isn’t an issue on a server, this is an issue on like a cisco switch on Charter’s network somewhere.
CSR: Right, that’s what I’m saying, they traced everything in the network and there’s nobody else in the area having the problem, so they say that if nobody else is having the problem, there’s gotta be something more neutral there. Or there’s gotta be something- because it wouldn’t only be affecting you if it was an actual system server problem.

Charter might be onto something. Instead of going through those horrific voice activated menus, you could have two options: tech, or no tech. Another tech, though, would not solve Matt’s problem.

Matt: This is awesome. I mean, what would you do? This is insane, you guys want to send a third tech out here that’s going to- so what are you going to do when a third tech comes out here and says it’s not on my end? Then what? You want me to tell him no?
CSR: The only thing that I can do is send a tech out. With it being something that’s out in the area and not anything to do with the actual signals or anything, there’s nothing that I can do to repair that. Except for send a technician out.
Matt: So what do you want me to tell the technician? He can’t leave until this is fixed then?
CSR: I’m not really sure that, I mean, the best people to talk to in this case would honestly be your local office because they’re the one that handles anything to do with the area issues or any server issues or any system issues at all. All we can do in this center is just send the technician out.
Matt: How do I talk to my local office then?
CSR: You actually have to go down there and do a formal complaint in person.
Matt: They don’t have a phone number?
CSR: Right, they don’t have a phone number because it all comes through the tech support.
Matt: Okay, where is this local office that doesn’t have a phone apparently? I mean do you not see how this is the worst customer service on this planet?
CSR: Right, I mean I understand the ongoing issues are definitely frustrating, there’s just nothing that anybody in this call center can do.
Matt: So I’m having a tech support issue and you guys can’t fix it, is what you’re telling me?
CSR: Right, I mean there’s no way that I can fix your lining problem from here.
Matt: Right, I understand that but you guys had two chances to come out here and fix it, and have failed.
CSR: Right, and that’s your local office. I mean the only thing that we can do is send a dispatch flash to your local office to get a technician out there. They have to take care of everything else from there.

Maybe the local office has the magical laptop? Probably not if they don’t have a phone.

The issue began in September and is still unresolved. Have you gotten into a finger-pointing war with your ISP? Tell us about it in the comments. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER

MattAndThat

Comments

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  1. Motor_Head says:

    I had a similar experience, where my upstream was seriously much slower than advertised. I learned it was the interface within my apartment complex. They cheaped out and ran the cabling themselves. Needless to say, cheaper cable, more signal loss. They just re-ran wire through the entire complex, and the problem is fixed.

    From my networking days, I would suggest Matt think of this:
    1. You are the only one having a problem in your neighborhood.
    2. The techs that come out are not checking all of your cable connections, or the interface to their system. They need to. Somewhere between your modem and the neighborhood switch (not server) you have a broken cable. Literally, the copper in the wire gets a break, but because it is bundled so tightly, transmission can still be accomplished. Until it moves (wind, etc).

    It reminds me of a story at the DailyWTF, where a server was going out every now and then. They found an oscilating fan in the server room would blow the cable and nudge it out of its seat.

  2. Motor_Head says:

    One other tip…Go to http://www.dslreports.com/tools. They have a 24×7 line monitoring tool, as well as dozens of tests and great forums to help you figure out the root cause of your problem.

    My gut tells me it is your cable. And we all know from Colbert that the gut is where truth lies. If you prefer wishy-washy possibilities, it could even be a splitter flaking out, or even the switch.

    Don’t be surprised if you end up knowing more than the tech after reading the forums at dslreports.com

  3. iamweezman says:

    While I can totally understand Matt’s frustration at the bureaucratic process that is most corporate tech support, am I the only one that thinks he is being a total jerk to the CSR? It seems like no matter how many times she tells him that he’s complaining to the wrong office, he goes on and on again complaining to her.

    Everybody has a right to vent when companies offer poor customer service, but it’s important to realize that quite often the person you’re talking to is a minimum wage employee with a very limited ability to fix the problem. If all they can do is point you in the right direction, take the advice and move on.

    For Charter’s part, it’s quite obvious that Matt’s right. They can easily test from the street to their servers, cutting out the need for Matt to be there every time they test the line.

  4. Charter Communications is bad, bad, bad. I have had my own problems with them in the past. Have I mentioned the badness? Oh, yeah. They be bad.

  5. That link should’ve looked like this. Sorry about that. I’m reading Consumerist from the lobby of a ski lodge, for God’s sake!

  6. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    While I would agree that Charter is giving Matt the runaround, let me say that tracking down an intermittent failure, whether it be a piece of hardware or bad cabling is truly a miserable experience for both the tech and the customer.

    I think Motor_Head is probably right; somewhere in the neighborhood there’s some deteriorating copper or an intermittent connection or a switch with glitchy firmware. This kind of thing can be very time consuming to troubleshoot, and obviously, Charter doesn’t want to allocate the resources. About the only thing you can do is keep on them and try to escalate it to the highest level possible. Be persistent but not obnoxious, and hopefully if they get sick enough of you calling them they’ll get desperate and send a tech out to replace everything.

    It all comes down to a big company not wanting to allocate the resources to fix a problem for just one customer. You can be sure if there were 100 customers with the same problem, they’d be out there with a fleet of techs working on it; but for just one complaint, they’re really hoping it’ll just go away or you’ll cancel service. Combine that with the inefficiency of a large coporation where all the local offices and techs live behind a firewall where you can’t reach them or talk to the actual tech that worked on your line.

    Matt is just going to have to be persistent until he can get the right CSR or manager who will take this seriously. Maybe he’ll have to talk with his town officials; I’m sure somewhere in the contract it specifies that the company has to keep the service working. Or, it may be a case of having to go higher and higher in the food chain to find somebody that seems to care and is just going to have to keep bugging them until they get sick of him calling..at which point (hopefully) out of sheer desperation they’ll finally send several of their better techs out to go over his connection with a fine toothed comb.

    It’s important to find the right balance between persistence and being a dick..but if you find that happy medium, it works wonders. As a service tech, I know that the customers that complain persistently and firmly do end up getting their issues resolved. The ones who stop calling do not, nor do the ones that end up becoming totally obnoxious. But the ones who are persistent and maybe just a tiny bit obnoxious usually do. It may take a while, particularly if the problem is intermittent, and and even if you’re pissed off, you still have to be cooperative and work with the techs.

  7. Scazza says:

    Don’t be surprised if you know more then the tech PERIOD. I am so tired of ISP tech supports. I can understand that people need jobs. But hiring random people off the street who last worked at McDs is just asinine.

    Also, for your problem, the tech support IN NO WAY should be asking YOU to go to the “local office” You are paying for a service they are not providing, it is THEM who should remedy they problem not you. In fact you should be in no way further inconvenienced but this situation at all and call them up and get THEM to go to the local office and do their job.

    As for my problems with my ISP. I am with Rogers up here in canada. Rogers (and BELL and a few others) have this odd practice of BEING HORRIBLE for the first 6-12 months in a new area. I moved to Toronto in 1999 and for well over a year, I spend a good 40 hours on the phone to them with problem after problem. Infact, I must have got about 6 months of service free thanks to them. Afterwards they were pristine and never failed.

    Well, this past december I moved out of the city and this time they completely bombed on service. First, We called 2 months, before we moved to make sure we will switch over on the monday after we move (we moved on a friday) and that all our extra lines will be put in (the builder of the house puts in 3, rogers has to put in 2 more for phone and tv as our package has 5 each).

    First, a full MONTH before we move, our service goes out for 3 days while they tried to figure out why. Turns out some dumb ass put in a request to turn it off on the wrong date. So fine, we get a week credit! Move time comes, and monday comes too. The guy from Rogers comes out to make sure its all hooked up right. I say that he can get started installing the extra lines right away, he says “I am not qualified to do that, Im just here to make sure the wiring is right”. I tell him that we called the other day to make sure he would be doing them. I ask him if he could at least run a drop in the unfinished basement (as in, just leave about 8 ft of cable just hanging, no drilling or nothing. So great, now I got to wait until they come out again.

    Anyway, he checks the modem, connects up the already installed outlets, says everything looks fine and in 10 minutes or so it should all be good. He runs off fast and forgets to put in my fucking drop in the basement. Great. So 30minutes go by, and still no service. 4 hours and I decided to call them up. They say no one put in a transfer request at all (odd, we did 2 months ago, and our service was cut a month early, so clearly someone did) She tells us she will do it now. We call back at like 11pm with no service still. They say they will put in a request to the services dept.

    I ask to talk to the internet department, as my modem looks like it was killed during the move. Now, I have 2 years of comp sci under my belt, I assemble computers for a living and know a good bit about computers and shit and how tech support works. So I get to the point “Hi, my modem is dead, when I turn it on instead of the boot up sequence I get all the lights blinking on and off forever”. She asks to plug it in and powercycle it and try again. I explain I have no internet so its not going to work on her end to see the modem. “No No, I see the modem right here, we are getting a good signal” Im thinking, shes gotta be shitting me, saying its not even plugged in… so I plug it in and no go… “well, I can see its got signal here” Okay, thats competly impossible I tell her and she says that when the internet/phone/tv comes on, then it should all be fine. I’m trying to tell her it won’t be, and it will just be another call when it does come back up to order a new one.

    She finally transfers me to the phone people after not understanding anything and they walk me through troubleshooting. Now, they can see the modem, and they can even tell when the phone is off the hook, and ping it, but have no clue why we aren’t getting a service when there is clearly a connection. I decide, fuck it, and call back around 11 to see if I can get someone again. This time I get a pretty nice guy, he understands the shit and explains to me that some moron along the line decided to go to lunch or home and left my account info either frozen or up on their screen as he can’t access my account. He tells me he will leave a note on the file and file a ticket to get it fixed tommorow. He says to call back tomorrow it should be up then, and there is nothing they can do tonight.

    Tuesday comes and we call up again. This time we get a nice lady. I tell her that a ticket should have been submitted to get someone to fix it. She says she only sees a few notes on the file and no ticket filed with support. She files one and tells us to give it the 48hours like it normally takes (even though I have waited for 2 months…). I tell her this is not good enough and I wished to speak to a supervisor. She puts me on hold for a good half hour then comes back to explain that there is none (on a bloody tuesday night at 8pm??? Are you joking?) So we cave in and wait.

    Wednesday… around 5pm the phone comes back up. But no TV or internet. Now the internet fun happens. I call up and try to explain that I know the problem that the modem is broke.
    “Please power cycle the modem” “Sir, did you plug it in right. The power goes to the wall and the internet goes to the computer” Are you shitting me. LISTEN “The boot up sequence on the modem lights is wrong. Instead of going CABLE, PC, DATA, etc, they all blink together non stop and don’t stop, as in a BROKEN MODEM” He tells me he will put in a ticket and someone will come look at it on friday. I tell him thats bull as friday is the 22nd and xmas is on the monday. If its not fixed by friday then that means no internet until like the following wednesday thanks to holidays. We then argue about the time schedule on friday, gives me only 11-2 of which I explain i will not be there for sure. I cave in and say fine (hoping i would be able to make it on time, but doubtful). I ask if I could drive for 2 hours tonight to their main office and pick up a new modem, like I did before, and KNOW you can do. He says nothing he can do about that, and its not allowed. So I say fine and end the call.

    Later that night I decide that this has been a headache beyond belief, so I call up billing to get refunds galore (im a whore, I know…) and talk to a really nice high level rep in Billing. He asks us to explain the problems we went through and says “Well, this is no good at all” and puts us on hold for 5 minutes. He comes back and says that he checked the file, and the last idiot we talked to was only filing a regular support ticket. He should have called up the actual tech department and find out when they could come out. He says he can have them there in the morning (thursday) with a new modem, and all the wiring to hook up what ever I need (salutations!!!).

    Well, Thursday comes, guy comes out and fixes the TV, gives me a spanking new modem that works (and the net works) and gives me 2 options about the new outlets. He can either drill holes, or call one of rogers contractors to come and install them proper through walls etc, because its a new house. I ask how much, he says both are covered free. I say fine, I will call up the contractor and thats fine. He says that the contractor will call me. So I thought that all is well with the world here. At least now I had service. 2 weeks go by and I finally get a message. I call back and he never gets back to me. So this past weekend I call up rogers and ask them. They say the service is 100 bucks and it would be awhile as contractors are busy. So I cave and go with the drilling route. They came out yesterday to do the drilling.

    So all is well now. What a hassle though… If you actually read that wall of text, sorry. That is my ISP problem, hopefully I have had enough to fill that “6 – 12 month bullshit service” quota they have with new homes…

  8. Scuba Steve says:

    It depends on the company, really. It would seem that Charter would be delighted for you to cancel. I guess writing a higher up would help, VP or some such. If that doesn’t work, you can alway see if your BBB or state government has any options for you, although I doubt the news would care too much.

  9. catskyfire says:

    I had a ‘no clue’ problem with my ISP of the time (Earthlink). Anyway, I was getting periodic disconnects. Sometimes I’d be connected for an hour, sometimes I couldn’t make it past 5 minutes.

    Because of the disconnects, I didn’t try online chat for long, because I kept getting disconnected. And I couldn’t do phone support because I was dial-up, with only the one phone.

    So I emailed them, filling out their troubleshooter. The first response was a generic ‘try the obvious’ e-mail. I point out that, as I’d sent originally, I’d tried those. Their next e-mail asked a specific question, which I promptly answered. The response e-mail was the same generic answer I’d gotten the first time, with all previous correspondence attached. This went on about four times. I sent an actual letter to corporate, which was ignored.

    I finally was having what appeared to be a good day, and went to their chat support. It turned out that when they’d changed over some stuff at the local office, they’d forgotten to transfer me properly, so the system seemed to think I didn’t belong, and dumped me.

    Ah, great. They fixed it, but no real apology and certainly no financial apology. I think two months later I went to Roadrunner.

  10. 44 in a Row says:

    Interestingly, one of the better companies I’ve dealt with lately is Verizon for their FIOS service. They haven’t been perfect, but the techs they’ve sent out (both for the initial installation and a later service call) have been fairly knowledgable, and also willing to help me screw around with my network setup past the modem, which they technically aren’t supposed to do.

    I’m pretty sure this is an anomalous situation, though. My feeling is that right now, Verizon really wants to sell their TV service. That’s the end game for them. But they can’t sell TV service until they run the fiber, and running the fiber generally happens when people want to switch to FIOS Internet. So at this point, Verizon has a pretty concrete financial incentive to make people happy, because the happier their FIOS Internet customers are, the more likely those customers are to switch over to FIOS TV service.

  11. mainfr4me says:

    I’ve been a customer of Charter in Oconomowoc, WI for a while now (1 year, 2 years for my roommates). The service here has gone from OK to downright ridiculous. We opted for the digital TV package and 3MB internet service package. When I moved in about a year and a half ago, the internet would occasionally go down (we attributed it to the black/brownouts in the area). Other than being slow, it has been OK.

    My biggest beef has been with the digital cable. We’ve had flakey service since last June. The problem was until about a month and a half ago, it would be intermittent. Picture and audio would drop out during broadcast TV every once in a while, on demand programs would have the same issue or just not list the service periodically.

    In the last 2 months, I can’t go through it seems any program without having issues. Be it 24 or QVC, the program will flicker, drop, pause, whatever pretty consistently. I’ve called I don’t remember how many times now. Things I’ve been told vary from “we’ve known about our server load problem for a month now, we are working to fix it” to “we need to reset your box from here, call back tomorrow if you have more issues”. I suppose I had better start logging my own calls.

  12. easy2panic says:

    Every time Matt calls the ISP, he should ask for a credit to his account for the lost internet time and lost personal/work time because of THEIR problem. In no time he won’t have to pay for a bill for months.

  13. Keep talking...I'm listening says:

    I had a similar problem with Time Warner. The city accidently cut my line when trimming trees. They dispatched a technician who said he could only do inside repairs and that he would schedule an outside techician to rerun the line. To cut to the end of the story, 5 weeks later no outside technician had arrived, TW management was blaming a scheduling secretary that ‘lies’and still no service. I switched to DirecTV.

  14. FLConsumer says:

    Charter Communications Inc.
    12405 Powerscourt Drive
    St. Louis, MO 63131
    Phone: 314-965-0555
    Fax: 314-965-9745

    There’s the info…make use of it. Call, or better, WRITE a snail-mail letter to them. Certified, Return-Receipt. Guaranteed you’ll get a response. Be polite and stick to the facts, leave the emotions out of it. For added effect, send it to “ATTN: Investor Relations”

  15. Crumbles says:

    Hey guys, it’s Matt from mattandthat.com — the guy who is having all this trouble with Charter. Figured I’d give an update…

    A few more things have happened, and all of the calls have been recorded.

    Charter came out yet again, and claimed it was the cable in my yard. They ran a new cable from the street to my house. This didn’t fix the issue. The tech said that was all he could do and left.

    I called Charter and told them to NOT come out and burry the cable, and I would call in and schedule a time for them to do it. I told them I had to mark where my sprinkler system was, and I didn’t want them to damage it. Well, 2 weeks later, they came out and buried the line anyway. When I called, I asked the lady: “Do you see where I called in and canceled the line bury?” “yes” she responded. I then asked “and does it say why I canceled the bury?” “yes,” she said, “because you don’t want us to damage your sprinkler system.” “OK, then can you tell me why Charter came out to my house and buried the new line?” “They came out and buried the line?” “That’s right. I expect you guys to fix any issues I have if they damaged a pipe.”

    Anyway, yet another problem I might now have…

    To the guys saying it’s in my neighborhood, that may be, however I’m not sure.

    If I do a traceroute from my PC to charter, it times out on hop 16 every time. If I do a trace route from my work ISP to Charter, it makes it. I can see where the hops start to match mine, and it appears that the VERY LAST HOP is what is timing out for me from my home PC.

    Now, even more interesting, if I do a traceroute to my home IP address from work, it gets to the hop right before mine, and starts looping to the same IP address over and over, never making it.

    Anyway, I’ll post an update soon with more recorded calls. Hopefully before 2012 they will get this fixed…..

    Matt

  16. super_nova says:

    I’ve had the same issues with Charter here in Athens GA. I think I went 3-4 months where I didn’t pay for my service, and when they finally got it sort of working (however it still is laggy from the time you click a page to the time I get a response)

    I’m now in a special 30 bucks a month rate, however I still feel like I should have been compensated for all the phone calls and times I’ve had to wait for them (Charter requires you to confirm by phone that you will be at your home during a 4 hour period for them to send a tech out… 4 hours is too long to have to wait around the house.)

    An estimation: 6 house calls, 10-15 phone calls, and one visit from some specialist from D.C. I’ll see if I can find his name when I get home.

    So yeah, some story: If you have a problem with Charter, cancel and get DSL immediately. It’s not worth trying to get your problems fixed in the long run, even if you get a phone line you don’t want/need.

    One thing I will add: What really pissed me off is that their tech support people try to sell you bundled services at the end of every call!!!!! Whoever is in charge of sales needs to get their nasty hands of influence off of the tech support people. Next time I call into T.S. the first thing I’m going to say is if you try to sell me bundled services at any time during this call I’m going to scream as loudly into your ear that I hope you’ll go deaf from it.

  17. writewords says:

    Reminds me of Comcast somewhat. For the past 8 weeks, we’ve had problems with our DVR service that started when we moved from one apartment to a bigger apartment right next door to the old one. We never had any problems in the old apartment, but the tech insisted our DVR box was to blame. Figuring something could have happened to it from wear, we gave it back and got another cable box with DVR. It worked for about 4 days and then stopped working again. We got a 2nd DVR box and the techs showed us how to check the configuration to make sure our signal was strong and that all information downloads were coming in. It worked for about an hour after he left, then quit working again. Tech comes out again, gives us box #3. Tells me that the problem is with the model of the box itself, so there’s nothing they can tell me except to cancel the DVR service since the problem is going to keep happening no matter how many boxes they give me. I just can’t believe a company in business to make money would tell a customer with a problem to just cancel a service that they pay a monthly fee to have. This is just the tip of the iceberg with them; don’t get me started on the poor customer service and complete lack of willingness to help customers in any way.

  18. EvilTapioca says:

    Thats no shock there. :D I moved and wanted charter service transfered to the new place I lived. I had payed the bill and everything. They spent two weeks saying”But we can’t cause we have to survey the land” My neighbors who lived LESS than fricking 200 feet from me had charter cable. They basically refused to connect it and so I changed to satellite. I sent their digital box back and then got another bill. To hell with them and their bill.

  19. EvilTapioca says:

    Oh not to mention that their technical support person just flat out LIED to me. I couldn’t ever get PPV’s to work either. First they told me it was just an error. Second time they told me they’d send someone out to check it,they never showed up, and the third time they said PPV wasn’t available were I lived,which it is. They finally pulled their heads out of their collective lazy asses and figured out they never fully activated the cable box. I will never ever use charter communications again even if it is my only choice.

  20. Crumbles says:

    If you guys have a digg account, go digg this article here:

    http://www.digg.com/tech_news/Customer_calls_Charter_ISP_T

  21. Antediluvian says:

    Matt should file a ticket with the NOC (Network Operations Center) or with a much higher level CSR / technician who both knows his or her stuff and can do something about the situation. Skip the 1st level and go right up the ladder.

    Unfortunately, I can’t lay my hands on NOC phone numbers but someone has to have them.

  22. Karmakin says:

    As someone who’s done the ISP technical support, to be honest, if you’re getting problems like that, because they’re so hard/difficult/expensive to fix…chances are they’re not going to be fixed. Live with it. Change your provider, if possible. Hopefully the other set of lines will work better. If not? Move. Well..that’s if broadband is that important to you. Oh what you say? You don’t want to lose that sweet low property tax rate?

    There’s your sign.

    Most of this infrastructure is grandfathered in, and the quality differs from great, to abysmal.

  23. Karmakin is right – you want better speeds/service and your neighborhood has problems? move!!! it’s easier on your psyche to just find a good neighborhood with good options. Trying to get a cable company or a telco to make things better is an uphill fight 99.9999% of the time.

  24. dryadrh says:

    I had the same problem with them. almost 10 months later, after having no net and issued ‘$20′ credits each month, was beyond reasoning. i switched to DSL and haven’t had an issue that wasn’t resolved quickly.


    i’m a huge anti charter advocate. after paying for their service, all i got was 20 second to 10min of internet a day. if i had net over 15 min, it was a miracle. no one else in my neighborhood had the problem.

    after 11 months, me dropping them and getting a real connection, a tech drove by stating the issue. after 10 months of them telling me it was my line, or my modem or my connections…. after my modem and every cable in my HOUSE was replaced with brand new cables…

    it was the line, on their end, was hit by lightning a few days before i called in. they KNEW the cable was struck and cracked and broke, but kept telling me it was my fault…guess it was cheaper for them to charge me for my net every month, than fix the known problem.


    my net dropped and reconnected and dropped repeatedly, for 2 days with sbc, within 20min of sending them an email i got a reply. on the second day, i was back up and running with an apology letter stating they were sorry for my inconvenience.

    how charter stays in business is beyond me.

  25. oildigger says:

    I have had very similar conversations with Comcast. Customer service is definately not the same as it used to be. Everyone’s service sucks now, no one wants to take responsibility to get the job done.

  26. takingcallsfromhell says:

    I am a High Speed Internet Technician at Charter Communications. Obviously due to possibility of becoming rapidly unemployed. Having worked here for a little over 2 years as an internet Tech, I have learned a great deal about the internal workings of the company. Though it is true that troubleshooting and pinpointing intermittent connectivity issues is rather difficult, the problem does go a bit deeper than that. Any employee, or customer, of Charter will tell you, it has nothing to do with customer service. It has everything to do with making the “bottom line” look better. Whatever this company must do to make more money, is exactly what they are going to do. Beginning in January of 2006, Charter implemented a new S2S procedure or “Service to Sales”. Which pretty much means, when you are done fixing them, try to sell them something. Which is understandable when talking about a fortune 500 company. Such things are to be expected. However, in August of 2006, they made it an issue. We have several metrics we go by here at Charter, including: Handle Time (call length), Schedule Adherence, Sales per call average, Quality Assurance scoring. Our Quality Assurance monitoring has to be at an 85% or better to be considering “meeting the metric”, which we have to do to keep the job. Let me break down the QA for you. ACE and Frame the call. Which means Answer with energy, display confidence you will fix their problem, and empathize with their issue, whether you mean it or not!. Frame which means, after ACEing the call, tell them that once you fix them, you are going to look over their services and try to sell them something:D. Then troubleshooting ensues, no one would think this is the most important part of our QA, to troubleshoot properly.. NOPE! If we just completely ignore your isue, and say call Dell, even though your modem is on fire, as long as we tell you the proper way, we still get 100 on our tbshooting part of the QA. And what’s more? If we do NOT do it right, it is a whopping 13% off our QA score…still leaving us with an 87%. Our job is no longer technical support, it is to sell you crap you don’t need. Though I understand your frustration and the fact you are a bit disgruntled with the service from charter. Please understand, It’s not our fault. Charter stopped training technicians a year and a half ago, and started training sales rep’s disguised as technicians. During this change, Charter lost about 95% of their experienced technicians, I myself have put in an application at a different ISp in our local area. And the company is being left with a bunch of stooges to fix the issues, that can barely tell the difference between a MAC and a PC :D. My advice, if you have charter service, and another isp is available to you, do what is right. GO WITH THE OTHER ISP!.

  27. halytech says:

    I can totally sympathize with your plight.

    I have been fighting Charter for a few years and at one point in time, the tech’s transferred me to cancellations.

    They kept sending tech after tech after tech out and every tech would say the problem is at the POP (point of presence) and not me.

    Eventually it took me befriending someone who used to work for local (Birmingham) charter tech and he gave me the cell number for the chief charter technician in our area (some guy named Steve).

    I kept calling and bugging him and he took care of it.

    Charter technical support is staffed by a bunch of incompetent ninnies.

  28. drm2g says:

    Charter is absolutely incompetent, obtuse and positively infuriating! I’ve tried to get them to fix my sporadic, inconsistent and slow cable internet for over two years! The techs are completely unreliable, incompetent and disinterested. Each one (when they actually come out) contradicts the others. Customer service is worse. Thank goodness a wireless alternative is about to be available to my area!

  29. Shoeb Ahmed says:

    Same problem here in Toronto, Canada. Sympatico is my ISP.

    I’ve been having frequent disconnects for close to 2 months – since I got their service.

    Tech support seems to be trying everything out, but they’re being very stubborn in sending out techs even!

  30. Ran Kailie says:

    If it was DSL I’d say it might be a half ringer on the line, i had that issue with my DSL when it was first put it, the connection constantly dropped.

    If I had to deal with this myself I’d drop them and go to something else, i can’t be worth it.

  31. emp3r0r says:

    Your not alone. My Charter service has been giving me similar problems. It appears to me to be more of a bad DNS server than a line problem. However, I’m plagued with both DNS issues and disconnections. I’ve also done the round-about with Charter and, like you, the tech that comes out says it isn’t on my end as the “levels are fine.” In a situation like this, the tech support is pretty much useless. My only options are to write a letter and wait it out or switch to dsl.

  32. feralparakeet says:

    Charter did the same thing to me last summer and fall. It took a call to corporate (the woman I spoke with at corporate was also insanely rude, incidentally) to get my internet service working properly and get a DVR after 3 months on a waiting list.

    I swear, if I had a land line I’d switch back to DSL in a heartbeat. If I didn’t have a zillion trees blocking the way, I’d get a satellite dish. Alas, I’m stuck with the evil Charter.

    Meh.

  33. bmaxd says:

    There is no point in trying. I used to work in Charter’s tech support. Corporate always treated us like necessary evils they would rather not have around.

    I ended up leaving when they decided to chuck technical service out of the window in favor of sales.

    They launched a program they called S2S (service to sales). We called it BS2S. It was nothing but a script that was designed to turn the conversation away from the customer’s technical issues and toward signing up for more service and features. Also, we were cut off from any escalations. We were supposed to roll a truck and the field tech was to take it from there.

    I left when a new group of techs were launched to the floor after a month of sales training that didn’t even begin to cover the technical side of things. As one of the last remaining true techs, I was getting piled on to deal with technical issues and getting grief for lack of sales.

    Charter is a mess.

  34. itchy feet says:

    When we moved about three years ago, one of the few things we were thrilled to leave behind was Charter cable. Sucked. Sucked. Sucked.

    We moved to our new city thrilled that there was a great option for cable, internet and phone. Customer service was friendly and competent, but we rarely needed it because things worked like they were supposed to. Charter was in the market, too, but who cared?

    Then Charter bought ‘em out.

    Now, with the same modems, cable boxes, etc., we are constantly on the phone trying to get them to fix their lousy, lousy service in a timely way (no, next week is NOT an acceptable time to restore my Internet). Fixing their lousy attitudes is beyond the realm of my imagination.

    I hate Charter. Hate with the fire of a thousands suns.

  35. SweetBearCub says:

    It seems that Cable Internet seems to have more reported problems than DSL. I’m not sure why.

    Anyhow, I have SBC/ATT Yahoo DSL here in SF, and it has worked like a dream for the 9 months that I’ve had it. In that time, it’s only gone out twice, both times for less than 2 hours.

    If you have the option for DSL, and aren’t satisfied with cable, give the DSL a shot. You may be pleasantly surprised.

  36. corrupt3d says:

    Being an ex charter employee, I have seen this same thing happen time and time again. I used to work in charters tech support department before they decided to outsource it. They then transfered me to the retention department. Being in the retention department i would see calls coming through like this on a daily basis. You see charter does outsourcing but does not train their reps. The when you get upset enough that you want to cancel those of us in the retention department would deal with your call and get anywhere from 5 – 15 dollars per “save”, or each customer we stopped from canceling. Now if you really want a good deal at charter just give them a call and tell them you want to cancel they will give you a very low promotional rate for 12 months, guaranteed. if the rep does not tell them you want a supervisor, you will be transfered to lead who was instructed by corp. to not allow any customers to cancel, Oh and if you are owed a credit or refund get through to an american sup and you will get your credit. If anyone has any other questions about charter send me an email, nick@corrupt-protection.com

  37. unknownuser101 says:

    Well, just so you all know I do work for Charter and I love my job and I love to help everyone that does all in with concerns and I DO work to resolve issues as do most of my coworkers. Yes, I know it can be frustrating for some of the people calling in as they do talk to outsourcers. But what you just read about Nick, just so you all know he was canned for the fact that he wasn’t doing his job and he was mainly the rep that you got that would hang up on you. He is so full of himself and feels that he is above the rest and above acutally helping people. So what he is actually telling you is incorrect as he is trying to lash out at the company.

  38. CharterWatchdog says:

    Hey Matt I can totally sympothise with you on this. I’ve had my share of ISP’s that were problematic and I also work for Charter. I would like to help you with your problem if you’ll let me.

    First I need to clear some air though. Nick (corruptt3d) the poster above me did work for Charter. He is an EX EMPLOYEE as he claims and a very disgruntled one at that. The problem is he uses this for credibility where he should be ashamed of it. HE WAS WALKED OUT FOR HANGING UP ON CUSTOMERS WHO REQUESTED TO DISCONNECT JUST TO IMPROVE HIS STATS!!! Less disconnect he has, the better he looks. Lets face it, we work in a call center and call centers are all about statistics. He is a complete joke in the department and we on the whole are glad he was removed as those customers would call back even more upset.

    Now getting back to you Matt, taking it out on the rep probably isn’t the best idea. We are here to help you and genuinely do want to. But consider if you were called incompetant, useless, or some vulgar name how helpful you would be to someone… just a thought. We deal with it everyday, I’m not trying to make an excuse out of it, but when you put garbage into a phone call, expect garbage back out.

    Now to your problem, could you post a trace route on the site so we can see where the issue lies? I would also like to have a form filled out in KM (Knowledge Management) to escalate the problem to a supervisor. In the last 3 weeks this has become a sincere goal at the company because we loose money everytime we send a tech out. Our goal is “One Tech One Complete Resolution” If Nick wouldn’t have dropped the ball like he did, he would have been at the company a bit longer and found that out.

    Matt, I’d also like to add that we are not keeping your service down or problematic or doing anything evil directly to you. It is in our best interest for your service to work to keep you as a customer and not give money to our competition. You probably have a very difficult issue though. There also is no excuse really as to why the techs did not show up. I can tell you though that we have recently added a new software to our computers that allows us to contact dispatch to follow up with you as to why a tech is not showing up on time. He might be stuck at a job that is taking longer than expected. Think back on your life if you’ve ever setup to do a project and snags come into play. I will admit that there is no excuse as to why we did not call you though and say we are not coming. I will say that if you call toward the end of the time frame of the trouble call, you will have a much more successful time having a tech show up in case they are running late. Being proactive is not a bad thing.

    And to close out, the reason you need to be home for all trouble calls is because we want to verify the services work when we are done. Approximately 6 years ago we moved to that system when we discovered we needed to send techs out 15% more often to fix something that couldn’t be tested. 2 years ago we moved to precalling as it saved about 35% of our truck rolls when we discovered people weren’t home to fix and inside problem or they fixed the problem themselves such as realized that the cable didn’t work because they forgot to plug it back in when they moved the tv to shampoo their carpet.

    So lets see that traceroute from your computer to Yahoo and see if we can fix the problem. :)

  39. space_dazee says:

    Hmmm, I see we have a few people who work in the same call center I do as they all know who Nick is… and all don’t like him either :D. I know many people who complained about him while he worked here, few who liked him, even when he was in HSD (High Speed Data, our spiffy little name for the internet department). Ok, enough bad mouthing the boy (though his last email to every department in Charter had TONS of that.. noooo, he’s not immature at all).

    As for you Matt, I can really only apologize, which I’m sure you’re sick of already. Apologizing doesn’t get results, I know. It’s not easy for us reps on the phone, hearing these problems and wanting them to be taken care of. We have a limited amount of resources and can only send the information to the appropriate department and hope that who ever it gets to does their job properly and gets it taken care of.

    I know all too well the calls you are talking about, as I’m on the other end of them. I get that nice little beep in my ear, letting me know a customer is on the line, say my hello and get. “What happened to the person I was just speaking with.” “Are you a supervisior?” “Didn’t the previous rep tell you anything?” “I was transfered?” “Who are you?” “Why did they trasnfer me?” The list could go on. And then they think being rude with me is going to help get their problem fixed. I love it when I’m in the middle of trying to help a customer and they can only say “Everyone at Charter is so incompetent.” I can’t help but give my headset a ‘So.. does that mean I can stop trying to fix this problem?’ look.

    All I can say is, I do miss my job in tech support.. and most of the people that aren’t here anymore… even talking to the grandmas for hours trying to explain to them the difference between the search bar and the address bar and that their ineternet IS working, but their home page is set to about.blank . I don’t hate retention though, as it still gives me a chance to help people.

    Charter’s just a company… and like all companies, wants to make make.. and like all companies made up of humans. And to error is human. Which is why I find it ironic that people want us to do our job with inhuman accuracy, yet don’t want to deal with an automated system…..

  40. GaffedbyCharter says:

    I have for the last two years been fighting with Charter communications in Columbia TN. over the same issue. That office handles (or more accurately MIS-Handles, my towns service on the Maury County side of town. I escalated my Internet disconnection issues all the way to their St. Louis corperate headquarters twice now. They are telling me that they cannot fix my line problems due to a contract that my apartment complex owner refuses to sign.

    Well the reason they refuse to sign it is because it locks them into an exclusive agreement with Charter for IP Phones that already don’t work on the dicrepid old lines that they refuse to replace! My broadband connection fails several times a day as it is, & they want my apartment complext management to be locked into an agreement for bad service? It’s insane! Meanwhile I’m caught in the middle while I’ve been paying for fuzzy channels, constant Internet performance issues, & terrible customer service for two years. Several customers in the complex have IP phones that only work half the time as it is.

    I even have technicians who work for Charter who live in or around the town telling me that the Spring Hill infrastructure is overloaded & crumbling, yet they keep making shoddy extensions to the cable infrastructure to keep the revenue from all the new developments coming in. They are basically trying to train us like monkeys to accept poor quality service while they steal our money & experiment on us.. Well this little Monkey is going to war. Other little Charter lab monkeys are welcome to revolt with me.

    Today, I have had to contact the Mayor of my town, a consumer laywer, & soon I will contact a consumer reporter to help me stop the theft.

    Like the gentlemen Matt in the article above, I was told by two different representitives of Charter that if I don’t like the service, I should go elsewhere. They know that they have a Monopoly in my town. I think it’s time they go straight to Jail, with no get out of Jail Free card. ~Daniel Leveillee Spring Hill Tn.

  41. CharterTech12 says:

    I am an actual Charter Field Service Technician in one of our largest service areas. As technicians we are dedicated to fixing the problems of our customers. The problem with individual customers intermittent problems is that they get a back seat to the constant outages and problems affecting multiple customers. We understand the need to fix your problem at your home but because of time constraints and the amount of work we have to finish in a day it is hard to find the time. Individual customers intermittent issues become a lost in the shuffle unless you are very well connected. This sounds harsh to many individuals but is true for most all large communications companies. The hardest thing to do as a tech is to recreate the problems that customers are having and do not have 6 hours to watch it and wait.
    Another problem that we experience is customers that do not alert us to their problems in the area around were you live. Unless a customer informs us of there problem, we would normally remain ignorant of the situation. Like an earlier post said, you as a customer has to be pro-active in the fixing of problems. Talk with your neighbors and see if they are experiencing the same issues and relay that to the technician. Another thing to do is ask the technician for their supervisors phone number and make sure to talk with the supervisors on a regular basis until your problems are fixed.
    Another thing to remember is to be courteous to everyone you speak to and you will usually receive the same back. This will almost always help in the process. I know the last thing almost any service person wants to hear when they meet a customer is how bad their company sucks and how bad you were treated by so and so. We know that every person in the company may not be intelligent but for the most part they are well trained and do know how to do their jobs.
    My advice to Matt is to get the number for the technical supervisor who covers your local area and see if he will meet you at your house to see it with his own eyes. Also if you are losing the connection entirely every few minutes it is more than likely something on the cable plant and not something in the headend. If we were having a problem out of the headend or hub site it would be a well known and wide spread problem.

  42. DixonNubbah says:

    Just ran across this post and thought I would key in on my own
    experience with Charter.

    I have never experienced such horrible service. I have the bundle
    package of TV, Telephone & Internet.

    The only product that works properly is the telephone. The rest have
    been absolutely

    appalling. I am canceling Charter and moving over to FiOS with Verizon.

  43. Anonymous says:

    My strong suspicion about Matts problem is the reason why Charter is going bankrupt – when so many people get online at times, it slows or stops service and Charter cannot control that, Charter knows it but it is a business so they try to do business in vain.

  44. Christopher Painter says:

    Wow. I really hate to hear that so many people are having issues with their individual service providers but everyone needs to remember that all problems seem to roll down hill to the next in line. I am a broad band tech for Charter and there isn’t alot of info out there for us to go on sometimes. The internal depts of our company do not communicate back and forth the way they should so we are left stuck in a rut on what to do. As far as digital tiling on your tv and such, all we can do is check signals and replace a box if need be. Sometimes it’s even out of our hands if the issue is with the headend or with the specific network itself. As far as Matt’s issues go, call centers are not designed to give you all the answers. Unfortunately they lack a lot of training and have to refer to the local dispatch centers. My wife works at one and we are both constantly amazed at the lack of knowledge that they have. Getting to the last point here… As a tech we are giving small amounts of training and have to refer to the one’s that have more experience when we reach our limits. I have went to school to work on computers myself and have a leg up versus others. I too am facing an issue where our customers are having ip issues where they get locked into a 169.xxx range. There is nothing that we can do about it and I apologize to everyone for the lack of the company to explain itself. Hopefully this will help out in a way.
    Thanks,
    Chris

  45. Matt Woods says:

    I f@#king hate charter cable. I was on the 5mb internet and was getting 5mb through my belkin wireless router. I upgraded to the 20mb internet and I was only getting 10mb through my wireless. I was getting 18-19mb through the modem, but dropping down to 10-11 when going through my wireless isn’t right. When I called and spoke to the technical support the first time, the guy I talked with was more than willing to help me. We were running speed tests connected straight to the modem and I was still getting the 18-19mb down speed. When he had me connect to my wireless to check some things I got disconnected. When I called back I got some lady. As SOON as I told her I was having problems with speed through my wireless she immediately said they did not support home networking through “3rd party routers”. She was not going to help me no matter what I said. I had already purchased a new router since I thought my router may have been going bad. The new router gave me the EXACT same results as my old one even with totally different settings. I told her I would just call back and talk to someone that would help since the guy before her was more than willing to help. She then tells me that she was going to let others know not to help me with my wireless. That’s exactly what happened too. Each time I called I got the exact same response. I finally talked to one guy that gave me somewhat of an answer, even though he probably made it up. He told me my modem model shouldn’t even be able to pull 20mb. It was only supposed to be capable of pulling 5mb. Somehow though I was getting 18-19 straight through the modem O_o. Yeah…didn’t make sense to me either. So I said screw it and started messing around with every concievable setting in my router. My new router was a d-link 108mb wireless-N by the way. I went through the wireless setup wizard and it set the lowest possible security setting. I did a test and wouldn’t you know it, I was getting 18 mb. Then I did another…14Mb, then 12, then 11, then 10, then 9…. There was no reason it would just keep going down. Every test I did after that was leveled at 9mb down. I went through the wireless wizard again and the exact same result. Now doing the wizard also refreshes the IP address from the charter network. I thought maybe it was my old wireless security settings, but was proved wrong yesterday when I setup my old modem again (since the d-link sucks @$$) and with the old settings I tested and to my surprise I was pulling 18mb. I didn’t test after that, but I can bet it went down from there.

    Charter rep told me “We don’t know when you are connected through a router” which I think is BS. The packets are sent to the network differently when passed through a router than when connecting straight through so I bet you their equipment can tell. ESPECIALLY since they offer their OWN wireless home networking. They of course would support that and I bet your ass the connection speed through the hardware they supply would be right. Hmmm…each router and modem has a MAC address that they can use to filter traffic. If they receive a request from a mac address that doesn’t match one of their pieces of hardware I’m sure they can limit the connection speed to that device. They’re a bunch of assholes.

  46. Anonymous says:

    I’ve got a love-hate relationship with Charter. In the past, I’ve talked to techs over the line and had absolutely fantastic support. However, as of late, I’ve been getting randomly disconnected. So have all of my friends who also have charter. I asked my neighbors – so are they. I called Charter, they said it was a problem with MY modem. Wait, wtf, so my modem is causing random disconnects over an entire city? Yes, that makes boatloads of sense, Charter v.v