Time Warner Cable: Your Internet Isn't Working So We're Sending A Tech To Disconnect Your Cable

Time Warner Cable in Southern California is completely broken. There is no hope. They’ve fired the head guy, but we think the ship may have already sank. They may as well have let the captain go down with the boat.

Reader Ben recently had Time Warner Cable and internet installed in his new apartment. Naturally, things didn’t go well. After only a few weeks the cable and internet just randomly stopped working. From Ben’s email:

I call customer service, and am put through the extensive rigmarole of testing every device. The service rep (of course) has no clue why nothing is working, but she can schedule a service call for Saturday. That’s a WEEK of no cable and internet. No sooner. I must wait a week.

But the very next morning, an install tech shows up, and I politely inquire if he’s there to fix the service. Silly me!
“Nope, sorry,” he says. “I’m a different department. I’m here to remove the previous tenant’s equipment and disconnect his cable.”
“But I’m not the previous tenant,” I reply, reasonably enough. “You can’t disconnect my cable. Besides, my cable and internet aren’t working!”
“Sorry. Different department.”
“So,” I ask, “You can disconnect our cable, but not reconnect it?”
“Yep.”
And he leaves. I scream with rage.

Ben, we do not blame you. Read the rest of Ben’s email inside.

Ben writes:

Hi Ben and Meghann,

Long time reader, first time bitcher.

I’d just like to air a few grievances about TWC, especially since they apparently have a new head of customer service in SoCal, and he might be interested to read this.

My cable and internet were hooked up when I moved in early March. I had signed up for a DVR, but the install technician showed up to my house without it. Luckily he had an extra one in his truck, but he told me it’d be an extra $60 to install it. I told him repeatedly that I’d ordered the plan with a DVR, and signed up for it to be included on my first bill, so he told me to call customer service. He said this mistake was fairly common, and they could usually just shift my account from a regular cable box to a DVR for a refundable $50 deposit. I was annoyed enough at this point to agree. I then spent half an hour on the customer service line being shuffled from rep to rep, being told three times that what the install technician had described was impossible. Several hold periods and one supervisor later, I finally got them to do what the technician had told them.

“Oh, and by the way,” he told me, “TW internet has been out all today, and we don’t have any idea why.” Sure enough, my newly installed cable internet didn’t come back on until that night. I never found out why.

Flash forward to last weekend. My cable and internet suddenly stop working. I call customer service, and am put through the extensive rigamarole of testing every device. The service rep (of course) has no clue why nothing is working, but she can schedule a service call for Saturday. That’s a WEEK of no cable and internet. No sooner. I must wait a week.

But the very next morning, an install tech shows up, and I politely inquire if he’s there to fix the service. Silly me!
“Nope, sorry,” he says. “I’m a different department. I’m here to remove the previous tenant’s equipment and disconnect his cable.”
“But I’m not the previous tenant,” I reply, reasonably enough. “You can’t disconnect my cable. Besides, my cable and internet aren’t working!”
“Sorry. Different department.”
“So,” I ask, “You can disconnect our cable, but not reconnect it?”
“Yep.”
And he leaves. I scream with rage.

But then a light bulb turns on in my mind. I head down to our building’s primary cable hookup. Lo and behold, someone has physically unplugged our cable! My landlord and I have the same simultaneous reaction: “What the hell?!” Another call (and hour-long hold) with customer service confirms that the person who previously lived in the apartment had defaulted on his bill. So of course, OUR cable and internet were disconnected. They were supposed to send out a service tech to reconnect it this morning, but I’ve heard nothing from them.

And to top it all off, after all that, they’ll only credit me for the time the cable was down. Not the whole earlier weekend the internet was down. Not the hours of cell phone bills I’ve racked up, because I have Vonage, and without an internet connection I was forced to use my cell minutes. And the customer service rep claimed a supervisor would call me back immediately, but of course, no one has. Liars.

Sorry about such a long rant, but I wanted to expose all the ignorance and foolishness that TWC dumps on their customers. It’s now been three weeks I’ve had the service, and they’ve done absolutely nothing right. They’ve handled every problem like a troop of retarded, dyslexic baboons. If they really value us, they wouldn’t treat us like this. I hope the newly-appointed head of customer service reads this, and takes a good hard look at his departments. Because the left hand clearly has no clue what the right hand is doing.

–Ben

Did you hear that Time Warner Cable Southern California? You are all dyslexic baboons. No, really. You are. Ben told us..—MEGHANN MARCO

(Photo of Good Cable Guy Who Has Nothing To Do With This: dykstranet)

Comments

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  1. appleface says:

    wtf? These companies are all the same. Send us an a*s-load of money and get sh*t on in return. F em all!

  2. North of 49 says:

    Shaw routinely charges us an extra $20 “processing fee” on our bill. We have no clue wtf the “processing fee” is. They say its to pay the tech to not disconnect us. I think its just a scam to get another $20.00 out of us. I’m watching my next bill like a hawk. if there is another $20.00 charge on it, we’re filing a complaint with the CRTC.

    We can’t wait till Telus comes out here with tv service. We’d drop Shaw like a rock. Poor service, lousy CSRs. And getting a disconnection notice with a warning that we were going to be disconnected with the date being the same as the date we received the notice was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

    We’re only staying with them long enough for Telus to offer us their tv service too.

  3. Bix says:

    A few years ago, new neighbors moved into the upstairs part of the 2 family house I live in and had Cablevision’s Optimum Online internet installed. Suddenly, my cable TV (but not internet) went out. Turned out that when they put on the “trap” that keeps them from hooking up their TVs to the cable connection, it affected the lines into both units. Cablevision came back and isolated them.

  4. Sixdust says:

    Just reconnect it yourself?

  5. rekoil says:

    I have yet to see this story topped.

  6. Poseidon says:

    @Sixdust: That was the first thing I did. (I’m the guy who sent the email this article is about, by the way). Since then, I’ve been trapped in a series of phone calls trying to get them to reactivate it. It’s physically hooked up, but the modem and DVR can’t send or receive any data through the cable line.

    Incidentally, the supervisor never did call me as promised. Liars.

  7. shiftless says:

    God, I hate Time Warner. It’s the same complaints everywhere! I can’t wait for Verizon FIOS to come to my area… on more month… one more month…

  8. birdbrain says:

    North of 49… are you in Vancouver? I have never seen any processing fee on our Shaw bill.

    And I have nothing nice to say about Telus.

  9. gardencat says:

    Never used TWC, but sympathize with Ben. In the past I have had issues with Comcast, so I understand how dim-witted a cable company can be.

  10. SpyMaster says:

    It could be worse. You could be making all your “customer service” calls to India.

  11. Meatloaf says:

    It seems Ben’s type of story is all too common over the past few months for TWC in Los Angeles. It’s amazing how TWC can go from being the highest consumer-rated MSO (Multiple Service Operator) in LA prior to the TWC/Comcast/Adelphia integration in August 2006 to what it is now. As a former employee of TWC in LA prior to and after the integration (leaving the company in November), I was able to see firsthand the backend of what was driving the customer satisfaction issues. And now that I’m a “regular” subscriber, I’ve already had my first bad experience with a customer a service rep – well, actually second if I count the time that I was on hold for close to 45 minutes when I wanted to order a DVR only to find out they were out of them and there was no wait list or any other type of system in place to notify me when they get more in stock.

    First, let me tell you about my horrible customer service experience. When I finally had to start paying for my cable (after I lost my free reciprocal services), I wanted NBA TV. I called to order it and the rep told me I need to Sports Tier in order to receive it – so I gladly accepted. After a week, I noticed I still wasn’t able to receive it and found out though a former colleague that I’d have to wait for about a month for the channel realignments in order to receive it – so I thought what the hell; I’ll just wait a month. A month rolls by and I still didn’t get NBA TV after the channel realignment, so I decide to call TWC. After about an hour on hold, I get a rep that I explained my situation to. She looks up my account history and tells me, “you originally asked for the Variety Tier.” I told her that I clearly stated a couple months back that I wanted the tier with NBA TV and that I would have never asked for the Variety Tier (I only watch CNBC, Discovery HD, and Sports). Well, the rep pretty much told me I’m lying in order to get $10 refunded for two months of the Variety tier – and she said that I’d have to wait for another rep to call me back in order to pursue it further. Well, that was about a month ago now and I’m still stuck with this Variety Tier crap that I’m paying for and I have not received a call from anybody at TWC.

    Now, let me tell you what I think went wrong at TWC. I could write a 50 page case study, but I’ll keep it down to just one key element – it all comes down to poor planning. A cable system going from 350k subscribers (TWC prior to the integration) to 1.9M overnight needs lots of planning. Billing, customer service, cable, and the engineering backend (just to name a few systems) all need to be integrated. And all this planning takes smart people – and lots of smart people. Not just the existing employees that TWC had. There was no ramping up of the staff to prepare for this big change – and few if any consultants were brought in to offer their expertise. With this, the transition was already destined to become a can of worms.

    What should we expect in the future? The new executive replacing Roger Keating (the ousted former top exec in Southern California) needs to drive some very important and costly initiative to effectively train all employees. Simply hiring more call center reps and technicians won’t do anything they are all uninformed and making up their own rules. Cable does have a lot in their favor (infrastructure to provide voice, video, and data), but if big changes don’t happen very soon, subscribers like myself WILL find alternatives.

  12. tozmervo says:

    This is giving me less and less hope for trouble-free cable future. I’ve been through hell and back with Comcast, and was eagerly waiting for the day that more than one cable company would don the street. When I move in the future, I was going to make a point to be in a non-Comcast service area.

    I was. But now it doesn’t seem as important. I loose no matter what company is draining my money.

  13. kenposan says:

    Okay, I am going to be the only defender of TW. (don’t hit me).

    About a week ago I noticed several channels missing (channels we don’t normally watch). Then I noticed they came and went together. We called TW and they said to reboot the converter box. That worked, once. Called back and they sent out a tech.

    He replaced bad cable on the pole and cleaned up a mess of cable at the house (done by the previous owner). He even tried to get through our crawlspace to fix what he thought was the last problem, but due to our having it crammed full of crap he gave up. He gave me a barrel connector, said what was down there was probably a cheap splitter, and if I swapped them out my problem would be gone. I crawled in there, replaced the cheap splitter with the barrel and all my channels came back.

    As much as I would like to hate on TW with everyone else, I can’t.

  14. North of 49 says:

    Birdbrain: BC, yes.

    Shaw has been a pain in the butt. Last fall, we got a disconnection warning notice pinned to the door. The date for disconnection was the same day that the warning notice showed up (Nov 8th). We called and offered to pay the entire amount that day via Internet bank payment, but that was refused as “not good enough.” We had to wait a week for the tech to “get around” to showing up to take a cash – not cheque – payment. We even offered to go to the office in person the next day with the money owed if they would reconnect us immediately. They weren’t willing to take our money OR hook us back up at our convenience – we had to wait until they could get the tech here and we were told that we “might” be able to get hooked up over the long weekend. Saturday came and went. Sunday. Monday’s a holiday so no one showed. We did get hooked up again on Tuesday when the bastard finally showed and he fixed a problem with our cable line and told us that a second junction was free with our account. He arrived 30 minutes before the “end of booked time” and if he hadn’t arrived, Ms. No49 would have given the CRTC yet another complaint letter about them. It took the first email to the CRTC for them to kill the reconnection charge but they still weren’t going to kill the $20.00 “processing fee.”

    Anyway, earlier this month, we get a bill from Shaw for 38.00. Only 18 of it is actual cable bill. The rest of it was “processing fee.” When Mr. No49 called them, he got told that it was because we were late the previous month – nevermind that we actually overpaid. So if we get that stupid “processing fee” added on again, we are emailing the CRTC.

    Telus has been… interesting. Mr. No49 knows how to talk to CSRs and has been able to adjust our phone bill a few times. Ms. No49 is very happy that we now have a set amount to pay every month instead of surprises because she has American relatives who love talking her ear off. It has taken us a bit of kicking Telus’ butt about getting tech support or other issues, but unlike Shaw, when it has come to their billing, they are quite happy to take our money when we have it (read: payments) and give us warning before disconnecting. But, unlike Shaw, their tech support does try to help when we call. Shaw says “there’s always Bell” for tv – only if you want to go sattelite (which we don’t).

    Ms. N049 is wondering if The Consumerist would perhaps like to branch out into Canada?

  15. Killian says:

    I worked for Adelphia before they got gobbled up by TWC and Comcast. Some things never change. They still don’t understand how to properly service their customers. I used to spend most of my day fielding irate calls from people who had their service wrongfully disconnected, technicians not showing up for appointments, billing fouled up beyond compare, need I go on? The level of indifference was staggering at times. You would call the office that dispatches trucks for a customer’s area and their attitude was like there was nothing they could do. If a technician misses an appointment, get someone out ASAP. If a customer’s service was disconnected by mistake, get a priority truck out and fix it – regardless of the time of day. This isn’t rocket science people.

  16. dukerayburn says:

    What’s bugging me these days is that I read stories of cable screwery like this and I just scroll right by most of the time. I’m happy that my chosen carrier, Cox, hasn’t had as many complaints, but it appears that the cable companies are so consistently inept that even the worst stories hardly faze me.

  17. DudeAsInCool says:

    Last night I called TW because my broadband speed was incredibly slow–it’s a reoccuring problem. I first called Vonage to make sure my connection was clean and that they weren’t eating up too much of my broadband. After deducting that it might be TW server problem with a technician in NY, he bumped me up to the expert tech level. Now keep in mind, this probably took about 40 minutes when you count all the holding and waiting, and that doesnt include the 30 minutes or so with Vonage going over my connection, etc. The Sr. Tech at TW flatly refused to address my issue unless I disconnected my Vonage router–if I did so then I couldnt speak to her, and I told her I was calling about TW’sservers, not my modem. She flatfly refused to help–e.g. she wouldn’t/didn’t check to see if they had any server problems, and instead said the problem must be my modem! Luckily, I had the email address of another tech guy at TW I had dealt with before, and sent him my traceroute info, and lo and behold, my issue was fixed …after two hours. In fairness, they have some good people at TW, but they also have some losers.

  18. KingCool says:

    My good people, for shame! How dare you slander retarded, dyslexic baboons in such a manner!
    I think Geico should get on top of this. I can see it now: “So easy, a Time-Warner Cable CSR could do it!”

  19. ChiefDanGeorge says:

    I’m another customer with positive TW stories. My roadrunner connection has been 99% problem free. Last week I noticed some of the normal HD channels were blocked. Called them up, agent said I didn’t have an HD DVR, I said I most certainly did, she said Oh, ok made a note in my account. WHen I got home, sure enough the channels were back on.

  20. mopar_man says:

    “And I have nothing nice to say about Telus.”

    Me too. Telus is about the worst period. I had Shaw and had no problems at all. There were no fees, no disconnect notices and the service ALWAYS worked.

  21. CubedTech says:

    As a TWC tech, i can at least shed some light on why the tech doing the disconnect couldn’t reconnect you. In my division, all the disconnect jobs are done by contractors who are only allowed to do disconnects. Usually, these “Techs” are paid per job and really don’t care if they disconnect the right person or not.

    Heres a tip for those who have problems with your cable. If you need a service call to fix your problems, request that they send a company employed technician. They tend to be much better techs in general. In my particular division, all service calls are already ran by TWC Techs, but it never hurts to ask.

    Also, TWC divisions tend to be pretty autonomous, so the experience you have in one division may not be the same you have in another. I know in my particular division, We try to stay around 1 to 3 day turn around on service calls. If it gets to 4 days, the management puts in a few days of mandatory OT to get it back in line. Digital Phone problems usually get next day service. I know my division is looking at same day service for some calls. So while SoCal may be pretty bad right now, Not all divisions are as bad as they are!

  22. QuirkyRachel says:

    See I think that Comcast and Time Warner Cable use each other’s policy manuals as guides to working with customers. It makes sense, if you use their logic.

  23. Jason-Ryan-Isaksen says:

    This all points to bad management. The reason is that the installers aren’t trained to think for themselves, which is the nightmare scenario for any large company. Even if it’s a contractor paid to remove an installation, they should deal with it rather than make someones life a nightmare. There’s some common sense if you go to disconnect someone who isn’t there and the current person who IS a customer is having a problem, you try to help them out.

    This is one of those situations where you can go back and say “screw it they were totally screwed and I helped them out”. These companies have gotten to be a ship too big to steer when it comes to training and not rewarding contractors or employees for thinking for themselves.

    Jason Ryan Isaksen

  24. pelaez1 says:

    I never had a problem until warner took over from Adelfia. Over the last 2 months my internet connection, which both me and my husband need for work, was cut off so many times that I had to switch to Verizon (so far OK). Still, I continued the TV subscription. Here is the new saga:
    I paid my bill on the telephone on 3/15/07
    2 days later I had a call from Warner to ask for payment. I explained I had paid 2 days earlier. After checking, the agent apologized and told me to ingnore the call.
    On 4/30/07 my tv was disconnected. I called, they said I had not paid (again!).For the second time I paid on the phone. (gave checking account # and routing #), I was reconnected. Today (4/5)Iwas disconnected again. I called again. I am told my check (never wrote a check) had bounced. I have 10K+ in my account and my account shows 25 other payments in the last 2 weeks. Only Warner can not handle telephone payments.
    Saga continues. Today (4/6) I call. Another rep tells me that my bank refused to pay their bill. I call the bank. They have no record of payment request by Warner.
    Call back Warner. Recorded message says I owe $ 437. Talj to rep. Because my account is delinquent I can’t sort it out on the phone, have to go personally to their shop.
    Go to online account info, it says I owe $145, due payment 4/17. (so I am not delinquent).
    Meanwhile, still disconnected.
    Next episode, to be continued….

  25. csmith says:

    I hate Time Warner as well. After hours upon hours holding on the telephone I decided to start calling some Time Warner big wigs to express my frustration personally. It’s pretty funny. Here’s the Vice President of Operations, Mr. William R. Goetz, Jr. at 203-966-1436. He’s in Connecticut, so feel free to call him or his wife Elizabeth late California time.

  26. bedofnails says:

    My confusion lies in how here in San Diego, TWC and COX service is only available to certain areas. This is to say, if you live one part of San Diego, you MUST have Cox, and if you live in another, you choke on the turd that is Time Warner.

    How is this legal? Especially since they offer different packages, prices, etc?

  27. CoolTri says:

    Had issues With Comcast and my cable connection.

    The Friday before 4th of July last year, Some Guy Showed up and started messing with the cable junction box that feeds my Apartment complex. I looked at the guy with that look “you better not mess with my cable” knowing that I have paid my bill.

    I was watching this guy paying more attention to the teenage girls prancing around the pool instead of the box; I don’t even think he noticed me. He finished up, closed the box and left.

    10 minuets later wife come out yelling that the cable was out and on the phone I went. The fist person I talked to had no clue why I was turned off. The on duty mangier as well had no clue and couldn’t find any records of their tech being out their.

    All I could do is let keep telling them to get that guy back out their and turn it back on. Same old story, they don’t know why or who they were more that likely it was a contractor, is what they told me. Also they let me know that the earliest Appointment that some one could get there was the 5th of July. 5 days later.

    I let them know with three kids driving my wife crazy, and she was going to drive me crazy until it was fixed. I collected the manger’s information and hug up.

    Here’s the fun part. I went to the cable box. removed the blocker he had put on my connection and reconnected my cable. 10 minuets worth of work and I had never done it before.

    I then called back that manager let her know that I had reconnected the cable. She said thanks and tried to push me off the phone. I asked her nicely for a discount off of my bill. At this point the cable had only been out for 1 hour or less. She offered me 1 day discount. I said NO. She said how about 1 week. I said no. She than ask how long, I replied 1 month credit. After trying to tell me that she could not do that I let her know why it was in her interest to do it.

    Here was my selling point.

    One: To send an installer to me he would clock 2 hours for 10min worth of work then mess around for an hour and a half. He could be doing something else. Then have to go to another call on the other side of the city. That would easily cost them more that my phone bill.

    Two: Comcast make way to much money to miss $50.

    Credit Granted. Love that. :0)

  28. Jeff says:

    This same thing just happened to me with BrightHouse Networks.

    My story: [heliosj.iddings.us]