California City Fines Time Warner Cable $25,000 For Consistently Awful Service

Wow, what a shock. Another story about those “dyslexic baboons” who run Southern California Time Warner Cable. The City Council of Moorpark, California decided enough is enough and voted to fine Time Warner Cable $25,000 for their poor service. From KNBC in Los Angeles:

“Time Warner has, for a period of time, not lived up to the obligations that are required for the citizens of this community,” said Councilman Keith Millhouse. The city has complained to Time Warner for months without results.

Among other things, Time Warner failed in its agreement to answer customer calls in 30 seconds or less, the council said. It wasn’t known if the fine would be used as refunds to Moorpark customers of the nation’s second-largest cable company.

The franchise agreement states, “Telephone answering time shall not exceed 30 seconds.”

We wish more cities would follow Moorpark’s example. Recently Montgomery County, MD fined Comcast $12,281.84 for not meeting the standards set by their franchise agreement. If more local governments held these companies to their franchise agreements customer service just might improve. —MEGHANN MARCO

Moorpark Fines Time Warner Cable $25K Over Poor Service [KNBC]
(Thanks, anoneemush!)

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  1. ptkdude says:

    This prompts me to wonder… can I get a copy of the franchise agreement Comcast has with my county government? If so, how do I do that?

  2. puka_pai says:

    The American Federation of Dyslexic Baboons is looking for a retraction, an apology and $5 million in punitive damages for your comments.

  3. Truex says:

    This is a satisfying thing for me to see on a few levels. I grew up in Simi Valley, just over that hill you see in the back of the picture. The past five years saw Comcast bought out by Adelphia which was bought out by Time Warner, with significant drops in quality each time. Nearly everybody on my old block has abandoned the cable network in favor of a DSL/Satellite combination, so it’s nice to see that the local governments are getting involved.

    Unfortunately, my experience with the city governments in that area lead me to believe that they’re going to keep the money for themselves rather than having refunds issued.

    As for myself, I’m in San Diego and had to deal with little to no connection for weeks while they sent over tech after tech. The cable modem was supposedly verified, and they ended up replacing all of the cabling running from the trunk line in the street to our house. Eventually they gave up and told us to pay a contractor to replace the wiring in our walls.

    Two days later I’d done it myself and verified that my wiring worked, and there was still no signal. The mouth-breathers at Time Warner finally gave us a new cable modem, and we’ve been fine since.

  4. mr_pants says:

    My grandpa grew up on a farm in Moorpark. He often asked me what Moorpark spelled backwards was. It’s actually a nice place though, and even better that they take TWC to task.

  5. DrTweeker says:

    I’d love to see Comcast hit with a suite like this

  6. Trick says:

    So that means Time Warner loses out on what, 5 minutes worth of income?

  7. ironchef says:

    Time Warner certainly spent a lot of money trying to knock against AT&T and Verizon in Southern California.

    They are even aggressively PHONING their customers about a phony change in “billing” codes to ask for upgrades to digital cable…implying Adelphia’s billing codes were not compatible with Time Warner. They asked me to update mine to Digital Cable. Smelling a rat…I kindly requested that my current service was fine and keep it as is.

    They had the gaul to say my verizon Internet service required me to shell out extra fees for box rentals for my wireless router (which they actually gave to me free.) Time warner actually billed me $3 a month for a router I didn’t need before I dropped their pathetic excuse for internet 6 months ago.

    Here’s another beef I have with Time Warner. They decided to move more channels I used to have on my basic service to digital cable. They jacked up the rates and cut the number of channels. Their advertising called it improvements.

    Bastards.

  8. krunk4ever says:

    Honestly, which big companies can really guarantee a 30 second wait time or shorter? If I saw that clause, I would’ve thought it’d be wait time before the phone is picked up, which could mean you’re directed to a robot who will try to assist you.

    //krunk (^_^x)

  9. snprbob86 says:

    Where do the fines go? Will the wronged consumers see a penny of it?

  10. pkchukiss says:

    Well, where I last worked at a call centre, one of the many service level indicators measured the number of calls that were answered in under 10 seconds, so I’m not surprised by any company having 30s.

  11. tedyc03 says:

    none of this money will ever be seen by the city or customers. Time Warner has the lawyers and the money to fight this off in court…it might cost them more to fight it in court but it doesn’t help customers who desperately need to be reimbursed for their crappy service.

  12. Coder4Life says:

    I am glad that we don’t have comcast here. I thought Mediacom was bad, but wow… I’ve heard so many bad things, that I would probably just stay out of the states with COMCAST.

    Sorry can’t live without the internet, or this website.

  13. dawime says:

    THe problem with such a fine (and the one Comcast received in Montgomery County, MD – around $13k) is that its still cheaper to pay the fine every year than it is to hire someone full time to help alleviate the problems with customer service. The moment the fines go to around 100k, you’ll certainly see an improvement in service.

  14. orielbean says:

    In my own call center, we triage calls. You could be talking to someone, but they are a glorified operator who has exactly zero capability to answer your question. And…surprise!!…they don’t get paid very much at all for handling upwards of 150-200 calls a day.

  15. GenXCub says:

    I can’t believe Moorpark is in the news? It’s now known for something more than being Krap Room spelled backwards.

  16. robinhess26 says:

    I’m a little shocked to hear this, especially since I’ve recently become of just how perilous the cable companies’ hold on “TV” is. I mean, Apple just released an alternative version of television — programming delivered completely “over the top” (aka cable-bypass). The cable business model is going to be seriously at risk — so they have to (at the very least) provide reliable service.

    If that’s not happening, they are going to lose the only business they will have left — internet access.

    The $25,000 is obviously a weak number, which won’t make them improve. But, the release of Joost and Apple TV may convince them to treat us properly.

    – Robin

  17. cnordholm says:

    I used to have Time Warner cable in Kansas City, MO and the outages were horrific. VoIP isn’t even an option as the service would go black every week or so for several hours. Is the only route here to ask your local government to take issue?

    On the other hand RCN in Washington, DC has been amazing. They compete with Comcast and charge me $26/mo for 10M service. I would have never thought it possible…

  18. theheights says:

    Time Warner Cable has been under much scrutiny here in my hometown of Lincoln, NE from pretty much all customers, including the City Council. They are currently investigating the new software upgrades to our DVRs that has slowed them way down: “ugly graphics, incomplete information, problems with slow-reacting cable boxes and digital video recorders after the software was loaded into them.”. The City Council has asked for a performance evaluation.

    http://journalstar.com/articles/2007/03/20/news/local/doc4

    TWC says they care about the situation, but has still done nothing. Hopefully this fine and others like it will help change their ways. Fat chance, though.

  19. tmclain says:

    I’m a big fan of companies that deliver on what they promise. And to me, Time Warner Cable here in Apex/Raleigh/Cary, North Carolina can’t be beat. I get sustained downloads of 600k+, can count on one hand the number of outages I’ve experienced in three houses/one apt., and my cable modem failed twice — and a replacement was installed for free within 3 hours both times.

    It sounds like TW has issues with one very small, local franchise — and frankly, 30 seconds from the phone tree picking up to getting to a human sounds pretty crazy. Heck, if I have to wait 60-90 seconds, all the while hearing “Please wait, there are 2 in front of you” so be it.

    Rock on Time Warner, and get your act together in this small location. Long live fast, stable Internet and awesome cable service from a giant I’ve come to respect over the past 7 years running in NC.

  20. attackgypsy says:

    I work for a cable company in Internet Tech Support. Its not one of the biggest, but it is one of the highest rated. We also have the highest penetration percentage in our franchise area of any cable company.

    We have what is called an ASA rating. It means “Average Service Answer”. Its the average length of time it takes for a rep to be on the line, over the entire day.

    Yesterday, when I left at midnight, our rating was at 8. And it was fairly busy yesterday. If we’re over 30, or 60, depending on the state, we get fined.

    We’ve had days when it was over. It WILL happen. Like the night an entire state went down. 500 in the queue (our max) for 45 minutes, even with the recording saying “The entire state of X is down”. We got fined for the outage, but not the ASA that night.

  21. cryinginthewilderness says:

    I’m in Tampa, Fl. I have had Time Warner internet service for several years and the quality has been good. Twice I’ve had the modem replaced without charge and with no hassle. (Once I dropped it off the top of the refridgerator it was on.) I can’t comment on the quality of the cable TV, as I quit it two or three years ago.

  22. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    Tmclain..umm it isnt a small area where TWC has issues. its the entire LA/Ventura county and probabley more area where they suck. I live near a trunk feed so my numbers are usually ok but we have had long periods where we have no signal to our cable or cable modem. We call TWC and get the run around. Taking a week or more to get a tech out to look at a issue is BS. We switched our TV to Dish but we still have the internet thru them..they suck.

  23. malekish says:

    Krunk4ever asked “Honestly, which big companies can really guarantee a 30 second wait time or shorter?”

    It’s not hard to provide that level of service but it costs money. Once you know the averge number of calls to receive over a time period (usually 1 hour increments) and the average length of the call, it’s not that hard to calculate how many phone-monkeys you need staffed to handle it. Add a few more to cover people calling in sick and you’re done.

    Call centers routinely manage their AHT (average handle time). Somewhen around the 20th-25th of the month they start running the numbers to see if they’re on target. Too low = paying people to sit around idle, they offer to send people home early.

    Different companies use different acronyms, AHT, ASA, whatever. The usual definition is average amount, in seconds, between when your call is placed in the queue and when a human operator answers it. Lower volume calls actually makes it harder to keep a consistant AHT, one bad day can leave you spiked especially if that bad day is late in the month.

  24. cantwin says:

    tmclain: I don’t think that this is by any means isolated to this one area. It’s great that TW service works well where you live in NC, but I know that in Milwaukee and Green Bay, WI where I have had TW internet and cable the outages are frequent and service spotty. Then again, the Comcast service I have now outside Chicago is even worse. Sometimes you just can’t win.

  25. xzevious says:

    Time Warner has the most horrific service I’ve ever known. I hate (and I don’t use the word loosely) them about as much as anyone would hate being consistantly robbed for this sorry excuse for what they call service. I’ve been with what amounts to no service (see http://www.planetray.com/speedtest.htm for sample speed tests) for 2 weeks. during that time I called at least once a day, and would always get different excuses why it was my fault the service sucked. I was told “Oh yeah, I’ve been hearing about alot of problems with Vista” (funny, I’ve been running it since November on your network and the only time I seem to have issue, its because of them) I was told at two different times that they couldn’t send a tech because the systems were down for the nightly maintenance routines just as they were ready to enter the request after I’d gone through the horrible practice they have of having me turn off my firewall and connect directly to the internet using a windows machine (you’d think they could spend some of those billions of dollars on a flash app or something that could do line tests with the tech’s system or something so you didn’t have to put your system out to be raped online) And the best one, after I refused to jump through the hoops anymore (again) and told them to send a tech or I’d be switching to AT&T dsl (gasp) was on the call previous they told me that they couldn’t send a tech until I put my pc on the internet in that exposed state again, and I refused to do it, and they told me that there was nothing else they could do for me then. Then I called one more time (only because it would take AT&T 8 days to get a installer out to me and I don’t think I can survive that long without the facade of internet service at least) and made the threat to leave and the girl said she needed to do the tests again, and I said no, and after about 2 minutes of back and forth, she did it without the tests. Funny, the last guy said it couldn’t be done, the system wouldn’t allow it. Hmmm. At anyrate, I have a tech appt tuesday, I imagine its the cable modem, although this started abruptly when new neighbors moved in, so I also have a fear that the last tech f00bar’d something during a hookup there.

    Now some info about me (also shared with every TW person) I spent 8 years as a Network Admin, 3 as a Sys Admin, and the last 7 as a Software Architect/Developer. I am a touch familiar with basic troubleshooting tools and what have you and tried everything they were going to suggest before they asked me to do it (pings, trace routes, resetting the modem/computer, trying a different port on my pc, on my router, removing th router, using a different pc, yes even the naked move just long enough to verify it did not make a difference). I’m not sure how doing the same things with them on the phone was supposed to make it better (short of them re-flashing/programming the cable modem) but even after relaying that information, I went through it the first time, and the next few times I did it because the 1st person made no comments, as did the second, third, etc… In fact until the last call, I don’t think anyone notated the account that I was having issues (that’s gotta be illegal for a utility, I know it is for credit companies) because everyone treated me as if it was my first call about the issue. Honestly I won’t know if they did anything last night until the tech shows up or not tuesday.

    Meanwhile I did learn something that makes me happy. AT&T will be offering U-Verse sometime near the start of July in my area (I am in Los Angeles for those who thought I may be a rural town person with a crappy franchise, its a crappy corporation) so TW’s time is waning.


    I hope my post was entertaining, I hope you got a chuckle from the Tormenting Weenies Totally Without Technical Wisdom @ Time Warner.

  26. grnggsnhm says:

    I think fining a company for not answering the phone within thirty seconds is a disgrace to this country. Does that mean Sprint, Comcast, MCI, AT&T, and I could go on and on and on. To me this is stupid.

  27. Law51578 says:

    I am a Customer Service Rep for TWC. I work in the NC area. I am sure not many people will come to the defense of TWC, but there is a first and I would like to be that one. Wit the demand growing in the Communications industry, some standards are hard to stick by. We at TWC in Customer service probably work harder than other other department. 30 second hold time is impossible to meet. I’m am sure all companies w/ this standard have been fined at one time or another. We work as hard as we can and can only answer one call at a time. What happen to the old times when there was no remotes, cable or digital anything? Is it so hard to do things the old fashioned way any more? What happened to family values? Life is not all about Watching TV, HDTV, electronics and technology. I have plenty of more important things to worry about when I am home than if my cable is working or not. Read a book maybe. Reading is fundamental. And stop Blaming you local customer Service reps for everything. We try our hardest to do our job to the best of our ability and as quickly and promptly as possible.

  28. xzevious says:

    LAW51578… You’r probably right, I don’t need cable, in fact when I close on my new house next week, I think I won’t be taking TW with me. That feels alot more liberating. Thank you. I can just do something else.

  29. kocez says:

    DO NOT USE / Subscribe to Time Warner Cable High Speed Internet.
    They SUCK, connections off and on intermittently. Customer service always ask to restart the modem / comp, basic troubleshooting. The problem is ON THEIR END. DO NOT USE Time Warner Cable High Speed Internet. You’ve been warned.

  30. kocez says:

    DO NOT USE / Subscribe to Time Warner Cable High Speed Internet.
    They SUCK, connections off and on intermittently. Customer service always ask to restart the modem / comp, basic troubleshooting. The problem is ON THEIR END. DO NOT USE Time Warner Cable High Speed Internet. You’ve been warned.