- This is my story how a request for a $5 credit on my Time Warner Cable bill turned into a $100 overcharge, and how TWC refused to acknowledge that anything was wrong, wouldn’t let me speak, tried to charge me even MORE, and then hung up on me. I’ve also attached some visual aides, natch.
And in a twist of bitter irony, Ben is actually an employee of Time Warner. Even he gets horrible service. Read his plight, inside…
I’m one of thousands of SoCal residents who made the transition from Adelphia to Time Warner Cable recently. I had plenty of problems with Adelphia, so I figured TWC had nowhere to go but up… wrong.
I received my statement about a month ago (March 15th, see attached file) and noticed that I was being overcharged by $5 dollars. You see, one of the improvements of Time Warner Cable’s takeover is that they’ve simplified their pricing structure so any one basic service like digital cable now costs $44.95 (not counting extras like DVR, HBO etc)… but if you purchase two services ( i.e. Cable AND Internet), the second service is $39.95, and if you get a 3rd service like digital phone, that one will cost $34.95. I’ve attached Time Warner’s pricing guide for the City of Beverly Hills, which explains this deal in a simple, cheerful, colorful manner.
As you can see, on my March 15th bill, I was charged $44.95 for Cable AND $44.95 for Internet. I called up TWC customer service and pointed out this error. The CSR totally agreed with me and said that one of those charges should be $39.95. She checked with her supervisor to see how much I should be credited… she said she would credit my account for $25 dollars since this overcharging had been going on for several months. Let me stress for reasons you’ll see below, $25 was the figure TWC offered me… I just was hoping for $5 credit, so I found this offer to be a nice surprise. They told me the credit would take a couple days to process, so I should just pay my bill in its entirety ($128.80), and the credit would just appear on next month’s bill. I did what they said and paid my full bill.
Flash forward to today. I receive my new bill dated April 15th (see attached). Mind you, I’m expecting the bill to be around $98 dollars, since my monthly bill should be around $123, minus the $25 credit. Much to my surprise, my bill was for $190.35. At this point I couldn’t help but laugh at the Sisyphean ordeal I knew I was about to endure. If you look at my April bill, I was charged for Internet services three times… once at the old rate of $44.95, AGAIN at the new rate of $39.95, and then I also received a back charge of $46.60 for the previous month (Even though I paid my March bill IN FULL… I guess they felt like I should have paid for Internet TWICE last month too.) Oh, at least I did receive that $25.00 credit though. It’s pretty clear to me what happened… the CSR I spoke to a month ago ADDED another cable Internet service at the new price rather than adjusting the old one.
I immediately called Time Warner Cable customer service. After a 15 minute hold time I got a CSR and while I probably sounded a little annoyed, I stated my case matter-of-factly: “Hi, I was expecting a $25 credit on my bill this month, but instead I was overcharged by almost $100 and I’d like to sort this out.”
The CSR asked for a moment to take a look at my most recent statement. I tried to tell her more but she kept shutting me up and telling me “If you keep on talking I won’t be able to look at your bill.” She looks over my April 15th statement (the atrociously messed-up one) and replies “I’m looking at your bill, I don’t see any problem.”
I ask her if she finds it strange that I was charged three times for cable Internet on one month’s bill. No, she replies. She then goes on to “Explain” things by simply doing a line-item reading of my bill, as though by simply regurgitating the information we both have in front of us it would offer some sort of explanation e.g. “You see sir, you have one charge for Roadrunner High Speed Internet at $44.95, and you have another charge for Roadrunner at $39.95. The other charge is back charge for the previous month at $46.60.”
Well thanks for that explanation, Ma’am.
I asked her how that makes any sense. There was a pause as the gears slowly moved. “Do you have two cable modems, sir?”
Of course I don’t! Why their billing system even allows this, I have no idea… is there really anyone out there who pays for TWO cable modems at double the price where they could simply buy a router? (sad answer: probably yes). I told her that if she looked at my previous bills she would see that I only have one cable modem.
She looks at my previous bills, and this is where things really begin to turn south.
“I’m looking at your bills here, and the reason you were back charged was because this credit of $25 dollars is incorrect. You shouldn’t have received this credit.”
“I’m looking at your bills here, and back in January you were receiving a $15 off Internet as a promotion for new customers.”
Full disclosure: back in January, I was receiving a discount on Internet since I recently signed up for Roadrunner (I previously just relied on them for TV), but the discount was subtracted from the incorrect amount of $44.95 rather than the correct amount of $39.95, so my entitlement to this credit should still be valid. But this simple arithmetic was totally lost on her. Let’s also not forget that the $25 credit was Time Warner’s call last time… I was only asking for $5!
But it was too late… this CSR was locked on to the $25 credit like a laser. I tried to steer her back to the main issue at hand… the fact that I’ve been triple-charged for Internet. She refused to cooperate and kept scolding me for interrupting her. Not only was she REFUSING to resolve my gross overcharge, she was trying also REVOKE my $25 credit, which would have brought my bill up to $215!!!!
At this point, I had enough and demanded to speak with a supervisor… in a very condescending tone, she told me she would explain what’s going on to supervisor, essentially implying that my efforts to move up the ladder would be fruitless.
I was on hold for over 10 minutes, suddenly a voice answered “Hello sir…”. I immediately said hello but no one replied back (my mute button wasn’t on). “Hello? Hello?” I keep saying. I could hear the ambient noise of a call center in the background, but my supervisor seemed to have disappeared into the ether. I stayed on the line for at least a couple more minutes, shouting into the darkness, hoping someone would hear me. I even played Mary Had A Little Lamb with my touch tone keypad. Nothing. I could hear people in the background but no one was picking up the receiver. Finally, I was just disconnected.
All and all, I was on this call for 45 minutes, and there was no way I was going to do that all over again. I called the Beverly Hills’ Cable TV office at City Hall [ed. (310) 285-1178], which has actually been really good to me in the past. They had gotten many Adelphia problems resolved for me, going as far as conferencing me in with supervisors from the cable company’s local office. (One of my few experiences with local government really working on the side of the consumer, so I have to pay my respects.) I filed my complaint with the city, but it may be several days before I hear anything. I’ll of course keep you updated.
Here’s the bittersweet irony of it all… I’m an employee of a different Time Warner subsidiary. Oh, and if you’re wondering if Time Warner employees get a discount with Time Warner Cable… the answer is no.
We’ve heard of this magical cable ombudsman in the LA area. Do any other cities have someone comparable? — BEN POPKEN