Executive Email Carpet Bomb Scores Hit On Time Warner Cable

For the past two years, Time Warner has charged Eric $10 per month above its published rates. Eric called and made what he thought was a fair offer: In exchange for refunding only one year’s worth of overcharges, he would add a premium cable service. A Time Warner supervisor responded with: “this is not let’s make a deal,” and then offered to refund three months worth of overcharges. Offended and armed with a reasonable request, Eric decided to unleash the mighty Executive Email Carpet Bomb.

He wrote:

I have been a Time Warner cable and internet customer since 2006. I recently began shopping around for service from your competitors in the area to compare pricing. I went to your site and viewed your current prices and realized that your standard bundle of digital cable and Roadrunner Standard was $10.00 cheaper than what I have been paying for the last two years and this is not a promotional price. This lower price has been in effect since 2007.

I called your customer service number, waited for a CSR for 40 minutes, and explained the issue. My request was simple: Correct the billing to reflect the regular bundled rate, upgrade my internet service to Roadrunner Turbo ($10.00 more) and credit me the overcharges for 1/2 the time it occurred. I am willing to split the difference. In addition, I will remain a customer and add a premium service. I think this is a more than reasonable request. The CSR placedme on hold to ask her supervisor who declined and offered to correct the billing as of today and credit me the previous 3 months in overcharges. The CSR offered to let me speak to the supervisor and Suzanne came on the line. Suzanne’s reply to my offer was “This is not Let’s Make a Deal”.

I found this to be extremely rude. Throughout the course of the phone call, she repeated this statement on two more occasions even after I mentioned to her that it was rude. I am an avid reader of The Consumerist and used the email address your company provided to them for problem resolutions. I have had a nice relationship with your company for the last three years and I want to give you one more chance before I cancel, and do business elsewhere.

Here is my current pricing:

Digital Cable with HDTV Tier: $50.95
Road Runner Standard: $46.95
Additional Tiers: Variety: $5.00
Equipment: HD DVR: $6.50
DVR Service Charge: $10.00
Multi-Product Discount: -$5.00
Total: $114.40

Here is your pricing for this bundle since 2007:

SURF N’ VIEW: $82.95
Digital Cable with HDTV Tier (included)
Road Runner Standard (included)
Additional Tiers: Variety: $5.00
Equipment: HD DVR: $6.50
DVR Service Charge: $10.00
Total: $104.45

I request that you credit me for 1/2 of the overcharges since your new pricing took effect. In return, I will remain a loyal customer, upgrade to Roadrunner Turbo and add a premium service. Thank you for your time.

He fired his EECB on a Saturday evening. By Monday morning, the price of his service had been corrected, and he had a $240 credit on his account.

To learn how to launch your own Executive Email Carpet Bomb, read this post.

(Photo: dan taylor)

Comments

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  1. William Brinkman says:

    This again goes to that great feature on TED about common sense and rationality in the customer service position. Why would you ever, ever, ever want to annoy or disgruntle a person paying over $100 for cable TV and is willing to make a deal in which they are willing to add service in exchange for a lesser discount?

    • sinfuly Delicious says:

      @William Brinkman: There is a few things missing in this post.

      When did the price drop by 10 dollars. The customer was given the 114 price at the time he signed up. For all we know the 10 dollar less price might be new as of three months ago.

      If you pay more for an item and find out a year later its now cheaper… do you get a refund for the difference?? Only the 30 day guarantee in some stores.

      3 months is acceptable for credit if he is just now seeing the new cost. They are willing to go back and give him extra for customer satisfaction.

      This isnt a case of TWC charging the customer more than what they promised him. A smart customer should shop around and check on occasion if there are any new prices/promos that you qualify to get the best bang for your buck.

      I do that with my cable, cell, and insurance every 6-12 mos.

      • joel. says:

        @sinfuly Delicious: If you had read the letter the OP sent off, you would realise it said the $104 pricing went into effect in 2007. So there’s your answer.

        • dcaslin says:

          @joel.: From reading the pricing scheme comparisons in the article, I think I have a likely scenario where this isn’t originally TWC’s fault (though their idiot CSR supervisor, makes it their fault after the fact). If Eric signed up for his service in 2006, and TWC started offering a bundle deal in 2007, it may explain his higher price. If he had called in early 2007 and said “How can I lower my price?” they probably would have switched it then. I would say it isn’t TWC’s responsibility to constantly review and find better deals for their customers. However, the CSR supervisor should have been able to politely explain this, if its true, so TWC was still in the wrong…

      • coren says:

        @sinfuly Delicious: “was $10.00 cheaper than what I have been paying for the last two years and this is not a promotional price. This lower price has been in effect since 2007″

        Fromt he article

      • kdollarsign says:

        @sinfuly Delicious: I totally thought the exact same thing! he wasn’t being “overcharged”!! He was charged the rate he signed up for!!! he seems to have even convinced himself that he was overcharged.

        on another note, I think targeted pricing is what economists would say produces an ideal economy. I’m all for negotiations.

        • FrugalFreak says:

          @kdollarsign: One could argue that is what happened with the Mud Ghetto sub-prime loans. Pricing should be across the board to curtail abuse towards different classes, races. Your negotiations would lead to selling pills at outrageous price because they HAVE to have them to live. everyone is NO better than anyone else.

          It seems you are fond of others subsidizing your discounts/pricing. Sounds like entitlements to me because you THINK you deserve more.

      • Radi0logy says:

        @sinfuly Delicious: “If you pay more for an item and find out a year later its now cheaper… do you get a refund for the difference?? Only the 30 day guarantee in some stores.”

        I guarantee you if their prices went UP he wouldn’t have to ask them to bill him more, they would just do it, no questions asked.

    • Taed says:

      @William Brinkman: Could you post a link to the TED feature? I was unable to find it.

    • usmcmoran says:

      @William Brinkman:
      You can ask Cox Cable that same question. I wanted a lower rate on my Cable Bill I was paying $150 a month for cable and internet combined. They were inflexible and were unwilling to lower the price at all, so now I pay $56 (16 for cable and $41 for internet). They now lose $1188 a year from me and I watch Hulu. Thanks Cox

  2. pmcpa4 says:

    Both parties did wrongs here, and TW gets credit for going above and beyond…. But isn’t also your job to make sure your getting the best price? I’m not sure why it is TW’s fault for him overpaying, or even being responsibility for crediting him back. Though I give him credit for trying!

    • sinfuly Delicious says:

      @pmcpa4: I agree. But its not really overpaying. That was the price he agreed to when they set him up.

    • wrjohnston19283 says:

      @pmcpa4:

      I can agree with both sides – Eric signed up in 2006 when the price was $114. In 2007, TW lowered the price to $104, but since Eric was already a customer, he didn’t automatically get the lower price. It took Eric two years to realize this.

      That being said, Eric was reasonable in his request to credit the $120 (1 year of overpayments) in return for both upgrading to turbo ($10 a month) AND adding a premium service. TW would make the month back in less than a year (possibly much less depending on the premium service.) In the end because of a front line CSR’s rudeness, TW (for damage control it looks like) had to credit the full $240.

    • dbshaw says:

      @pmcpa4: I would say it was TWC’s fault because he was paying what they were putting on his bill. And after they lowered their prices, they had a responsibility to notify their customers. Granted the customer should check but still, they tell you X, bill you X, they change X to Y, Don’t tell you they’ve changed X to Y, and keep billing you X. I see that as TWC taking advantage.

      • sinfuly Delicious says:

        @dbshaw: So. If you were paying the 104 deal and were told thats what you should be paying but they up the price to 114$ should you be forced to pay more??

        • dbshaw says:

          @sinfuly Delicious: If I don’t have a contract and they raise the price for their product, I either pay it, or stop using the product.

        • humphrmi says:

          @sinfuly Delicious: If you agreed to a $104 non-contract, non-promotional price and they upped the (non-contract, non-promotional) price to $114, they would just send you a nice note along with your $114 bill stating that you’ve somehow benefited from the price increase. Or they wouldn’t send you a nice note at all, they’d just raise your rates and make you pay it.

        • superberg says:

          @sinfuly Delicious:

          If they raise their rates, and you’re not under contract, then yes, your bill goes up.

          Which is why people’s cable bills are constantly rising. Duh.

    • outlulz says:

      @pmcpa4:

      Unless he signed a contract, if they changed the rates, it should be changed on the bills of all it’s customers. If I didn’t sign something stating I’ll pay for 2 years of service at X amount of dollars, I expect to pay the lowest advertised non-promotional price.

    • jp says:

      YOU SAID: But isn’t also your job to make sure your getting the best price?

      NO! IF I’m a loyal customer I should not have to do this. NO one should. When they raise their rates, it across the board and affects everyone and everyone pays the higher price. But if they LOWER their rates everyone should get the REDUCE rates without having to ask. Everyone should get it. This is the reason I cancelled Direct TV.

      • nybiker says:

        @jp: Maybe OT, but I’m curious: What did Directv do? I am a customer of theirs and as usual (or it seems that way), the monthly rate for my grandfathered-in package went up $3 a month or two ago. I see that new customers have what appear to be lower rates, but my guess is that after their one year contract is up, they go to the whatever the current rate might be.

        Did they try anything to get you to stick around?

        If my unemployment continues, who knows, it might just be time to give it all up.

    • coolteamblt says:

      @pmcpa4: I tend to agree here. The way Eric broke down the pricing in his letter, this isn’t like the rate changed for everybody else and not him. It looks like they set a different sort of bundle and Eric didn’t realise it existed for two years. I think it’s very nice of TWC to credit him two years of difference just because he didn’t keep on top of his options.

  3. NeverLetMeDown says:

    There’s nothing requiring them to let you know if they start offering a promotional price that’s lower than what you paid. TWC went above and beyond in this case, IMHO.

  4. Megalomania says:

    I would say that his original billing was probably the result of a rep entering things a la carte when he signed up and the computer not being programmed to recognize when the opportunity to bundle services came up. TWC really had no business obligation to give him back the money (he agreed to it, after all).

    However, he essentially asked for a credit to his account that would be used to cover a few months of premium cable – also known as free money for TWC when it’s an upgrade from an existing customer. It seems like the rep knew they would need authorization from their supervisor and didn’t feel like getting it.

    Kudos to TWC execs for acting on their fiduciary obligations, at the very least.

    • sinfuly Delicious says:

      @Megalomania: “Kudos to TWC execs for acting on their fiduciary obligations, at the very least. “

      It wasnt an Obligation. This would be a way above and beyond for TWC.

      • bwcbwc says:

        @sinfuly Delicious: Obligation to their shareholders, not the customer.

        As the consumer, I would’ve canceled the service after the rudeness of that supervisor’s response. There are other ways to explain to the consumer that it isn’t TWC’s responsibility to convert your packages to the best possible price for the services.

  5. Jonbo298 says:

    Kudos to the Supervisor.

  6. Joeb5 says:

    wow a dvr fee + Equipment fee most cable co just want $15 – $20 per dvr.

  7. coren says:

    Looks to me like a case of adding items individually instead of as a unit coming back and biting him in the ass..

  8. wvFrugan says:

    OK, It appears that the suscriber paid al la carte vs. as some sort of bundle which he would have been eligible.

    Regardless, for you all that think TW is just doing business by charging for what the suscriber asked for, not what they were eligible for at a lower price, here’s what the customer should do: now that he has the $240.00 credit, drop TW. Time to save some money, it’s just business after all. Business works both ways.

  9. wcnghj says:

    That is still wayyy to much to spend on cable+internet. The OP should downgrade to RR Lite or Standard.

  10. Kevin Carlyle says:

    I have Roadrunner internet. I’ve had it since May 2007.

    I called with an unrelated question in March and decided to ask about my billing. Turns out I was going to lose my promotional pricing in a couple of months. I asked if they had any promotions and without blinking they cut my bill from $41/month to $28/month. It will go up again in a year but I found the process to be painless to do and my bill went down instead of up.

    Props to Time Warner.

  11. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    i got earthlink cable internet installed yesterday [a service i had last year at a different residence and i was very satisfied with it] but in this area, the earthlink cable internet runs through the time warner lines and is administered by time warner, while the customer service and billing is through earthlink.
    the tech came to install it and since the previous owners of the house had the same service recently, all the inside lines were still in place and he just had to go up the pole to reconnect it and hook it to the exterior box before setting up the cable modem.

    i managed to get my directv appointment at the same time and the time warner tech mentioned that he uses directv at home for his entertainment and a different internet service too. he’ll install the lines but he doesn’t want to deal with TWC customer service either!

  12. Anonymous says:

    I recently used an EECB on TWC with great results. Both Glen Brit and the Office of the President responded very quickly to fix my account after my online payments from BofA mysteriously stopped being credited to my account. Regular customer service was impotent and unhelpful.

  13. Esquire99 says:

    I agree with those that say TWC has absolutely no business obligation to notify him that he could be getting a lower price. If he’s too lazy to occasionally check his bills and their current prices to ensure he’s getting the lowest price, so be it. That said, it’s a pretty crappy way to do business if you care at all about customer satisfaction. Of course, the cable companies generally don’t care about customer satisfaction, so they operate this way. The moral of this story shouldn’t be TWC sucks; it should be “be diligent with your bills and occasionally do a little research to ensure you’re getting the best price.”, or put another way “don’t be a lazy ass.”

    I know what comes next: “Some of us are to busy with jobs/kids/etc. to actually do anything like this.” My answer? Too bad. You’ve determined that your jobs/kids/etc. are worth more than making sure you’re getting the best price. It’s a trade-off you have chosen to make. You don’t get to do only the things that are convenient for you and expect someone else to take care of the less convenience things for you (unless you’ve hired someone, like an assistant, to do just that). Paying your cable bill doesn’t automatically entitle you to a call/letter/notice from the company anytime you might be able to get a better deal.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      @Esquire99:

      As was pointed out, buried elsewhere, they’ll ALWAYS *raise* your rate without giving you notice. Exactly why shouldn’t it work the other way? Fair is fair. Hardly an overbearing request that they provide you with the same courtesy they expect.

      • cluberti says:

        @RvLeshrac: Considering they already have the technology in place to check everyone when they raise it, the blade should cut both ways. Otherwise, they’re taking advantage of the fact you have a life, which is not illegal but highly sleazy. Of course, it is TWC, so I expect sleaze.

  14. Skater009 says:

    Way to Go !!!

  15. XTC46 says:

    This seemed like an easy decision. The refund was for 2.5x his MONTHLY rate, they will make their money back very quickly and keep a customer.

    Was Time Warner obligated to do it? nope, but they would have been really stupid not to.

  16. Paul Hibbard says:

    EECB doesn’t always work. We tried it and then had to file a complaint with the BBB which ended up with TWC disconnecting our services. I wish we would have singed that 2 year contract the tried to shove down our throats.

  17. mitchellgantt says:

    I used the EECB on AT&T just last week, after they royally dorked up my billing. Four months of frustrating calls to customer no-service, being told a different thing every time, being hung up on, being flat-out lied to… what a waste of time and effort. Zing the CEO and they were on the phone the next day, apologizing and giving me everything I asked for (which was nothing more than what they’d promised me up front in the first place).