TWC Charges $30 To Drop Off A HDTV Box At Your House… Or You Could Get It Yourself

Brandon says he just got and HDTV and called TWC to see about swapping his digital cable receiver for an HDTV receiver. TWC said no problem but it would be a $30 “carrying charge,” which amounted to basically a TWC worker throwing an HDTV receiver in the van and driving a few miles to drop it off at Brandon’s house.

Cleverly, Mr. Brandon went and picked up the HDTV receiver at the TWC office himself, ducking the $30 fee. However, they still charged him a $10 “switching fee” for the extreme effort it took to do the following:

“The guy literally scanned my old box, went to the back room, picked up the new box, took it out to me, scanned that box, gave me a cable, and typed in a few things in to the computer. It took him 2 minutes to do this and it cost $10 dollars — thats a $300/hour rate (at least thats one way to look at it).”

His letter, inside…

I recently got an HD TV and if there’s one thing you’ll learn from the experts at Best Buy, the picture quality of anything you view will be very poor if you aren’t using the latest Blu-ray technology, or if you aren’t using there $100 HDMI cables, or if your cable service isn’t streaming HD.

My digital cable service with Time Warner Cable gives pretty poor quality viewing on my HD TV, so what I did was call in to ask if I could switch my digital cable receiver with an HD receiver so that I could start viewing HD quality broadcasts. They said that it would be no problem, that the receiver would cost a few dollars extra, but my monthly service charge would be the same, but I would have to pay a one time “carrying fee” for the delivery. I told them that I would think about it first so I hung up.

I e-mailed a friend of mine who’s into HD and he suggested that I just go to the local Time Warner Cable store and swap the boxes myself. It seemed like a pretty good idea, so I called Time Warner Cable again to find out if I could do that. Please note that the TWC website actually lists all of the local Cable stores, but the phone number is the toll free TWC number, not the local store’s phone number. So I had to wait on the line for about 20 minutes listening to the recording tell me that “a Time Warner Cable representative will be with you shortly” every 30 seconds.

Finally someone came up and I asked if I could do the “carrying” myself and switch cable boxes at the local Cable store and she said yes. Finally I felt like I one-upped this company for the first time. They were about to charge me $30 dollars to drive the HD reciever less than a mile from their local cable store to my place — a mere 15 minute transaction.

While switching boxes at the store I was still charged $10 for a “switching fee”. Although $10 is not a lot of money, its all about the principle. The guy literally scanned my old box, went to the back room, picked up the new box, took it out to me, scanned that box, gave me a cable, and typed in a few things in to the computer. It took him 2 minutes to do this and it cost $10 dollars — thats a $300/hour rate (at least thats one way to look at it).

My advice to the Consumer is that if you want to deal with TWC, find out what you can do yourself instead of leaving it them and incurring a heavy service charge.

— BEN POPKEN

Comments

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  1. superlayne says:

    I bet companies sit around, evil alliance style, plotting ways to weedle consumers out of their money.

    “An employee inconvience charge sounds good and cryptic, slap that on their bill, they won’t look! Consumers are stupid!”
    Then they all laugh and give a toast to their senators.

  2. facted says:

    That’s pretty interesting. I have an HDTV box from TWC, and I also had switched from a regular box by going down to the store (last summer). Indeed, the price is the same on a monthly basis, and I wasn’t charged at all for switching the box. I’d call up and complain or at least ask them to show you where it says on their website that there is a charge for switching boxes. The only “switching” fee I thought they charged was $2 for changing cable plans, but I could be wrong.

  3. Skiffer says:

    You got off lucky…

    I tried the same “I’ll pick it up myself” with Comcast, which led to the usual game of no-one-knows-what-the-hell-they’re-doing…

    Phone rep said “sure, go pick it up.” Rep at office said “no, we can’t let anyone pick it up – it has to be delivered.” First appointment was a no-show, second appointment was 2 hrs late.

    Finally they showed up to drop off the box. Didn’t hook up a goddamn thing.

    Next month, $60 “installation fee.”

    This was just one of the many reasons why I don’t pay Comcast for cable anymore…oh, I still watch cable though :)

  4. facted says:

    From the TWC NY website:

    Have an HDTV and don’t have HD service yet?
    If you’re a current Time Warner Cable customer, you can pick up a FREE self-installation kit at any Time Warner Cable store.

    Though there might be a hidden charge there, doesn’t sound like it’s advertised too well…

  5. timmus says:

    Great nickel & diming… Time Warner’s definitely got what it takes to join the ranks of the phone companies.

  6. bambino says:

    Got mine the same way, but didn’t pay 10 bucks. FREE.99 SUCKAS

  7. mopar_man says:

    I think my “installation fee” was more than the $300/hour. My wife and I paid $25 for our cable to get hooked up (just regular old cable in an apartment building). The tech showed up, walked over to the locked cable box, connected our line and left. Time spent on the property? 3 minutes.

  8. brooklynbs says:

    I swapped my TWC digital cable for a HD/DVR box about a month ago in NYC at one of the company’s stores. I did not get hit with any new charges in person, and I just checked my bill to verify that there were no other additional charges.

    I walked into the store, they swiped my old box and then gave me a new box.

    My brother did the same swap over the weekend, expect he got the HD box without the DVR. He didn’t pay any money for the swap either.

    It may depend on where you live. TWC cable systems still operate somewhat independently and rules/charges seem to differ from region to region. I’m not saying that’s an excuse, I’m just saying that my recent experience was the exact opposite of the person who wrote in.

  9. facted says:

    @brooklynbs: Yea, I agree. It may be that the guy was charged the $10 and it was instead pocketed by the sales guy…ala Blockbuster scam that was up here a few months ago. I’d call them up and complain and demand a free month of service as well (get them riled up a little bit).

  10. plim says:

    i have time warner cable in nj (same umbrella as nyc), and i do not pay anything extra for HD service. all digital cable boxes cost the same, whether they broadcast SD or HD. They also cost the same if there’s a DVR in it (SD-DVR = HD-DVR).

  11. bedofnails says:

    I’m currently embroiled in a similar situation with Cox. Who have essentially scorned me for requesting service via their online account sign-up.

    verbatim – “If you would have called to sign up for service, and not gone online; none of this would have happened.”

    - in reference to Cox attempting to send a tech out to connect service that is already connected. Upon realizing they have a several large thumbs in there ears and asses, they demanded they send a tech out; to instead “terminate” the line to my house, you know, the one I was attempting to pay for.

  12. dotorg greg says:

    funny, I just called RCN the other day and made an appointment to do the same thing at our place in DC. The first Tech person said it would be a $49.99 “rolling charge” plus a $10 installation fee to bring the new box to my house, plus $12 more/mo for the HD service.

    I told them that in NYC, TWC always lets us swap boxes for free if we bring them in, and why doesn’t RCN just let me stop by and pick one up? She said that’s impossible, starts saying she can’t hear me, please speak up, and then she hung up on me.

    So I called back, got a different guy, who said there’s no charge for dropoff or installation, nosiree, when would I like them to come by, anytime’s fine with RCN. Literally.

    Now how would I like to cover the $50 equipment deposit for the new box, all at once or spread out over a few months… unfreakinbelievable.

  13. CubedTech says:

    Keep in mind, This varies by division!

  14. dscosson says:

    That’s not that outrageous to charge to come out to drop a box off. Truck rolls are not cheap for telecoms. Between gas, labour, the cost of maintenance, &c., it’s a chunk of change each time a telecom comes out to your house. Why do people expect free delivery service?

    That said, my local cableco charges a similar fee to bring boxes out, depending on the type of box, but it absolutely includes installation. A “carrying fee” is a bit silly. Also, my local cableco (Cox) doesn’t ever charge anyone to swap out boxes, although if it’s not an upgrade (i.e. a technical issue &c.) you do need to call ahead and have tech support OK it. Charging someone to take time out of their day to come into the office and stand in line to wait to have a box swapped out is a little overboard.

  15. method829 says:

    @ the post itself, of course your hd signal wouldnt be all that great since the box isnt supposed to decode the hd signals that the cable company puts out, now the “trip” charge is common and yes in some cases you can get away with picking up the equipment yourself, BUT not in all cases since some of the previous regions will not release an hd box or dvr to a walk up customer. procedure must be followed and unfortunately this is not categorized in the “free” service call tab. Now if you do downgrade service some companies have resorted to charging a 1.99 charge if you downgrade your services, this is chump change when you think of how much some companies will charge you to change contracts… NOW that is a run on sentence!

  16. ScoobyInc says:

    TWC is one of the worst companies to deal with. The representatives don’t know what their website and pamphlets say, and no one has any idea of the “advanced” features (recording HD programming on an HD receiver s advanced). Every since i have gotten TWC I have been very disappointed and am considering switching to satellite or looking into different options for my TV service.

  17. ungsunghero says:

    A couple months ago, I got TW to bring me a new HDTV box, and I wasn’t charged anything.

    I recently had a dispute with TW over my bill, though. Super long story short, I was getting charged for basic cable even though I am supposed to get cable for free (part of my landlord’s HOA dues go into paying for basic cable).

    What makes my story more ridiculous is that I started getting charged for basic cable because TW had trouble provisioning a new cable modem with my Road Runner service. Yeah, to this day, I still haven’t figured out how problems with Road Runner caused TW to start charging me for basic cable.

  18. Hedgy2136 says:

    After I fired Dish Network (for reasons I won’t divulge here), I decided to get my local cable company’s HD programming. Imagine my surprise when they said there would be a $30 delivery charge for the cable box. I asked if I could just pick it up myself and they emphatically said NO. After the guy gets to my house and does whatever he has to do on the pole, he had no idea how to connect it to my TV.

  19. LTS! says:

    It’s imperative that people say what market they are in.

    In Rochester, I just purchased my second HDTV, I called TWC to get a second box. I already knew I could pick it up, FREE. I picked it up, got home and the box was 100% dead, would not even power on. I waited on hold for 60 minutes (they were having a channel issue so increased call volume). Since I did not want to head back to the store all they could offer was to ship a unit to me or to have a tech drop one off but the available hours were not convenient for me. The next day I drove into the store, got the same lady I had the day before and told her what happened. She apologized profusely, tested a new box, and gave me a $40 credit for the trouble.

    Then my cable run (I installed) had an issue and I was only receiving partial channels on my new TV. They dispatched a tech to my house, he ran a new cable run (through the wall) and fixed my problem.. no charge.

    So it varies from market to market because in Rochester I’d say that’s how it should be done. I’ve never been charged a fee for ANY service by Time Warner.

  20. Wormfather says:

    Yeah it sucks but this is acceptable. It’s a fee for something they’re actually doing.

    I had to catch a cab yesteday and that iddiot charged me $7 just to drive me a mile or so. How unfair is that?!

    /sarcasm

  21. omgyouresexy says:

    @CubedTech:

    Truth. My Raleigh-Durham division here in NC makes it so the technician has to come out and install it (though a lady in the office told me I could come pick it up) and they don’t charge any fees for the switch. They just said they want to come out and make sure you actually have an HDTV (I guess so they aren’t giving out these boxes to just anyone who asks for them). One of the main selling points on my getting an HDTV was that the cable doesn’t cost any extra than I’m already paying.

  22. christinamor says:

    hey y’all
    this whole thing is bs…i was using RCN a few years back and all these charges are ridiculous. 50 dollar installation fee, delivery fees…i dont get this….why cant we just agree to buy the cable box, pay for the shipping or pick it up and connect it ourselves and save 100 bucks…why are these shady companies always trying to scam us? and then to top it off…these lazy cable tech guys expect tios for installing the box after they rip us off with the outragous charges…and did i mention that these guys are always two hours late to their appointments….it;s just not right..some people have jobs and cant afford to wait around for some rude cable guy who is not only late but ripping us off as well!

  23. shdwsclan says:

    Yeah…rcn cable has crazy fees…

    Wire mainenence fee….
    parts rental fee…
    phone fee
    customer service fee….

  24. waffffffle says:

    I live on 23rd St in New York city, the same street as their walk-in center. They won’t let me pick up a new box at the center, only exchange existing boxes. Adding a new TV *requires* professional installation, even though there is nothing for them to install other than a box, which I can do myself.

  25. mmcnary says:

    Here in KC, I swapped out a regular digital box for a DVR in store, no charge. They even gave me the HD version with twice the drive space at no extra charge. Now I guess I need to get that new TV, after all…

  26. bluebull206 says:

    yeah…i have a friend.(cough) who does not pay for monthly payments on cable television because it is stealing. However, he has the old T.V 86 cable box and is looking forward to achieving an exchange for a new and improve Hd cable box. What my friend..and by that i mean me, wants to know what kind of questions the local cable company would ask you in order for the switching and if there is any way I…i mean my friend..can achieve that without going to jail.

    Ps. my friend thank you
    thanks you for your
    time.

  27. method829 says:

    what your “friend” and by that I mean you. is nothing, cable uses two way signal boxes, you must be using an old one analog box that is basically crippled. sure some people get away with stealing cable, but eventually they get tap audit because some neighbor who is actually paying for the service tells on said persons.

    so yeah you pretty much cant do a thing til’ start paying