How Consumerist Empowered A Consumer, Saved The Day

Lenora isn’t a regular reader of this site, but somehow stumbled across it while trying to sort out a problem with Time Warner Cable. Her service had been shut off after she and her husband spent five months with no income. We were able to help her by providing an executive customer service contact at the company where she could send an e-mail, then call the president’s office directly. She made her case and provided proof to someone with power, and her service was back on later that day.

Thank you so much for this website…somehow I stumbled on to this site when I had problems with Time Warner Cable turning our service off, after decades of being a client. We had a past due bill of 275.00 and couldn’t pay it as husband had a kidney transplant, complications, and was out of work, and we went five months with no income waiting for Disability. I sent proof of the Disability, hospitalization, and being out of work to the email address provided by the Consumerist…as well as contacted President’s office by phone – and all was taken care of and restored that same day!

Thank you…thank you…thank you…; I will be making a donation soon as this truly is a wonderful site for consumers!

You’re welcome, Lenora! We’re glad that we’re able to keep all of this information out there for people who need it.

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. deathbecomesme says:

    Shouldn’t you be rethinking your priorities if you can’t afford to pay your cable bill for 5 mo. Maybe you should go without it.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      Stop being so un-American – what’s the point
      of living here if we can’t be severely in debt?

    • Chuft-Captain says:

      I’m kinda with you here. Seems like Cable is the least of their concerns…

      • Lyn Torden says:

        When you are stuck at home and stuck in bed, cable can be more important.

        • deathbecomesme says:

          If it’s important then pay for it. If you can’t pay for it then you go without. That’s all I was saying.

        • jebarringer says:

          Ah, I get it now. If I can’t afford something, but I think it’s “more important”, I should whine to the company until they give it to me for free. Thanks for clarifying the moral of the story.

    • cactus jack says:

      Being able to watch Breaking Bad is a constitutional right.

    • Marlin says:

      Glad you were first to say it as I was thinking the same.

      I have been without cable TV for 5+ years. Yes I can afford it but its one of those why spend the money when over the air digital works fine and I can put my money to better use.

      Reading her short story makes me think cable should not even be on their radar. I can see a lowwer end internet connection maybe but not cable TV.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Technically she does not say they didn’t pay for 5 months. It just says they didn’t have income for 5 months. Depending on her cable package, and if TWC provides internet access as well, that $275 bill could even be 1-2 months worth.

      • cactus jack says:

        If that’s the case they seriously need to work on their spending habits in these unfortunate times.

        Seriously, $138 a month for tv/Internet entertainment makes it even harder to sympathize. It’s better if we stuck with the 5 month scenario for the story.

  2. Blueskylaw says:

    Thanks a lot Consumerist for bringing another reader into the fold. Now it will become
    harder for us to post interesting comments since we will be competing with more readers.

    I wonder who I can complain to?

  3. SkokieGuy says:

    I’m baffled, why is the a success story? The subscriber didn’t pay her bill and her service was shut off. That is what is supposed to happen.

    Lenora is going to make a donation to Consumerist (yea) but has she paid anything to the cable company?

    Shouldn’t this have a Bad Consumer tag?

  4. humphrmi says:

    Wow. Feel the love.

  5. Quirk Sugarplum says:

    “Due to recent increases in your Time Warner Cable service, effective Oct 1, 2012 your fee will increase by 1 human kidney. We regret the inconvenience.”

  6. Harry Greek says:

    The posters are bashing Lenora, because she is mismanaging the family’s priorities.

    Let me guess, instead of her husband getting some rest and watching TV while he recovered and waited for disability,… he should have done sprints around his block? Or, mine some coal? Or, take part of a strongman competition??

    Of course, you all know Lenora’s story – right? I mean, the only reason that there is no income, is that she chooses to, since she is lazy and wants to watch TV.

    Why, I am sure all of you, when faced with:
    1) transplant of one of your organs
    2) complications of said transplant,…

    ,… you were able to spring out of bed and get back to work ASAP!! Why, I bet as soon as the doctors finished with the last stitch, you got up and helped them clean up the operating room!!

    Hey, why don’t some of you smart guys tells us how you had your internal organs swapped out, faced complications and were STILL able to get back to work. Or, how you didn’t need the attention and care of a family member to help you with the complications,… wait – that’s right! You did the transplant yourselves!! So, it was done right to begin with! Look at you! Such a strong healer! Such an accomplished self surgeon! And yet, here you are,… posting on a website instead of fixing all the world’s problems.

    But, the lack of work peace and harmony is probably due to people not subscribing to your blog,.. yeah, that’s it.

    • cactus jack says:

      Books, CDs, and DVDs are available from the library.

      • MaxH42 needs an edit button says:

        Also, a good OTA antenna and digital converter box would cost less than half of what they owe TWC, and would eliminate the ongoing expense. I helped my MIL do exactly that very recently.

      • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

        This is what I was thinking. And depending on where they live, even a bunny ear antenna set up could provide decent programming. My daughter gets 27 channels on her TV with just bunny ears.

      • Xboxer says:

        Yep and I bet they could sell any nonessential item in their house too right? Let’s start with that microwave and work from there. That couch looks like it might be too luxurious for their income, let’s grab it. We’ll let them keep the marbles so they have something to play with when they’re bored.

        I mean if TV is a luxury then where does it stop? Should we just take anyone who is sick and clean out their houses and apartments of anything non-essential? I remember when my grandparents got really sick and lived on a limited income. TV was something that made them happy. We always made sure they could watch their shows. We don’t know how old the OP and her husband are. Some people can’t even get out of the house to go to the library, I also remember my grandma had a huge snowglobe collection. Nobody is our family was so heartless to tell her she should sell them. The snowglobes made her happy. We should all have a few “luxurious” things when we are sick.

        • The Cosmic Avenger says:

          Yes, reducing your entertainment options to fit your budget is exactly like forcing people to sell all their worldly possessions. I’m surprised you didn’t bring up how the Nazis didn’t let people watch cable TV either.

    • deathbecomesme says:

      I never said she/he needed to get back to work. All I said was maybe they need to rethink their priorities. Is it too much to ask that they go without a “luxury” if they can’t afford it. Should the internet and TV be added to the list of “needs”.

      I didn’t get brand new shoes every school year like the other kids because we were “poor”. I got to wear my brothers hand me downs. We didn’t get to pick out snacks for school because we were poor. I ate reduced price school lunches most years if not free. We went without because we couldn’t afford it. Why should Time Warner go out of their way to provide/restore service to a customer that can’t afford it?

    • FashionablyDoomed says:

      No one ever said he should get back to work. If you can’t afford cable, it’s time to evaluate what you CAN afford and make the switch. Internet may be more affordable, and still entertaining. If not, as Cactus Jack mentions, the library has tons of free media available to help keep someone occupied.

    • jebarringer says:

      You sir, just won the gold medal in totally missing the point. Congratulations. You also did well in the “false dichotomy” competition, with your comparison of watching TV vs mining for coal.

    • Invader Zim says:

      How many months of cable does it take to be healed? Even if the one who had the surgury is unable to work months later. Why then is the other one not? Sure take to time out to help but …..months?
      So if I get a transplant, I and members of my household are intitled to free cable. Cause thats how it works, right.

    • JollySith says:

      Wow, someone take a dump in your cheerios?
      Not one person faulted her for having no income, or for her job situation. What we do find fault with is the fact that we are talking about the very definition of a luxury expense. Cable television.
      She didn’t make an appeal for food, or shelter, or help with her kids. She just wants to make sure she doesn’t miss an episode of Teen Mom or Toddlers and Tiaras, and that is not much deserving of empathy.

      • Xboxer says:

        It depends on what you define as a “luxury.” I’m not saying we all can’t live without TV. But let’s say you get sick and are out of work for 6 months. Can we just back the moving truck up to your house and remove any nonessential item as we please since all of it can be considered a “luxury” in your eyes. Better yet how about we just take your house, everything you own, and move you into a 5 by 5 prison cell while you recover from your transplant. You’ll get 3 squares a day, a cot, a uniform, and water. The basic necessities of life, food, shelter, water, and clothing. We’ll even throw in some books for you to read even though those are needed to sustain life but we even give animals in cages enrichment. There you go. Does that sound too extreme and radical? Well so does calling cable a luxury. A diamond ring is luxury. A coach handbag is luxury. If cable TV is a luxury to you then maybe you need to get a second job,

        • JollySith says:

          You missed the point completely. Not one person suggested taking anything away from her. What was suggested was that she doesn’t deserve luxury items for free.
          I don’t want to take away her couch, but I don’t think anyone should buy her one.

        • Stickdude says:

          I agree.

          Because suggesting that people might want to rethink how they spend their money when they have no income for 5 months is *exactly* the same thing as wanting to lock them up in a 5×5 prison cell.

    • Skyhawk says:

      You’re missing the point. The point is that she couldn’t pay a bill and wanted the company to provide it services for free. It’s part of the ever-increasing entitlement mentality of this country.

      When someone is faced with a personal/financial problem, should every company that you deal with be forced to provide services for free?

  7. Invader Zim says:

    I would like free cable too. I dont get this one. Why does she get her cable turned back on when she isnt paying. Meh

    • Xboxer says:

      Then why don’t you destroy your kidneys so you can go on dialysis and get a kidney transplant. Then you can have your free cable right?

      Who said she is getting anything for free? And even if she is she earned it by being a loyal customer for decades. If the cable company had some compassion and cut her a break for a month or two then more power to her. It amazes me that all most people that comment on this site trash cable companies left and right, yet when Time Warner works something out with a sick man and his wife you attack her. So which is it? Cables companies are the pure evil or the guy that has to get an organ transplant is evil because his wife worked something out to get his cable turned back on? I was once shut off because I owed a whopping $29 and my wife worked for Comcast. They will shut you off for anything. Nobody said she didn’t pay her cable for months.

    • Skyhawk says:

      An effective sob story combined with the possibility of bad publicity for the company= free shit.

  8. bnceo says:

    TV/Cable is a freakin luxury. Not a human right to live. Get a book, subscription to a newspaper, maybe get some cheap DSL for basic web browsing. You didn’t pay for a service you received. Of course it got turned off. Why do you think you deserve to have it on?

  9. Xboxer says:

    Most of you are missing the point to this story and are extremely heartless. The woman had been a customer for decades. Life threw her and her husband a curve ball and they were in a tough situation. She may have only been behind on her cable a month or two. My cable bill is nearly $200/month and I don’t even have the complete package. We don’t know the entire story. nobody said she is getting free cable. Maybe she just made arrangements or they gave her a discount to help her out. Can we all live without cable? Sure. Has any one of you every been bedridden for more than a few months? Having cable TV can help a person take their mind off what they are going through, why do you think most hospitals have TVs in every room? Give the lady and her husband a break. They are going through a tough time. I hope none of you ever go through a kidney transplant, given your karma you’ll end up in a padded cell for 5 months while you recover. BTW, a kidney transplant is a very serious surgery and takes nearly a year to completely recover WITHOUT going through complications. Bottom line, she contacted the cable company and worked something out. It’s not coming out of your pockets so STFU!

    • cactus jack says:

      Why would anyone pay $200 a month for cable? That’s the real story here.

      And if I was bedridden for a year (meaning I had a ton of free time), I’d like to think I’d find something better to do than watch the idiot box 24/7. Read books, study a language, discover new music, anything

      • Xboxer says:

        Oh let me guess. You are one of those people that “don’t own a TV” so you are smarter and better than those that watch TV right? There are a lot of people that do a lot of mindless things that don’t involve TV. Some people just sit at a bar for hours on end getting hammered on a nightly basis. Hey at least I can remember the shows I watch and I don’t get a hangover. I actually watch a lot of educational programming. Some of the TV I watch is mindless. So what? What someone does to entertain themselves is their own business. I’m not going to judge what someone does with their money or their time. I have a buddy that spends thousands of dollars for car parts to fix up cars and never sees his money back because it’s purely a hobby. It’s not my thing but if it makes him happy then good for him. I pay nearly $200/month for cable/internet. Sometimes I watch TV, sometimes I don’t. That’s my business and what her and her husband so for entertainment is their business.

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        She never said it was $200 a month; she said they had a past due bill and no income for five months. They could have had a cheaper bundle so they could get internet.

        Since anyone who is out of work and/or dealing with agency bullshit often has to go online for stuff, it’s pretty necessary to keep the internet going. I’ve been job-hunting for eight months now and there is no WAY I could do it without keeping the internet on. I suspended pay TV. It’s a separate account and it’s only about $25 a month anyway, but that’s $25 I’m not spending.

    • Invader Zim says:

      If I required a Kidney transplant, Cable TV would be at the bottom of my list. Having a library and using the free over the air tv programs work just as well for taking ones mind off. Why would I want to be obligated to a Cable company when I have so much going on?

    • msbaskx2 says:

      $200 a month on cable tv? Wow. Just wow. Do you ever go outside? Sorry, that’s not the point here…. I just… wow.

      • bnceo says:

        For the triple play on Comcast, my bill is $191. Includes two HD DVRs, all movie channels except for The Movie Channel (TMC), internet, and VoIP. Yeah, it’s a lot, but gf is used to having it all. I grew up with no movie channels and lots of video games.

      • Xboxer says:

        $200/month isn’t really that much money to me. I’m not rich but my wife and I can easily afford the bill.

      • TSXPS says:

        If someone is in a place in their life where they can easily afford to pay $200/mo. on cable I say good for them! It’s good be frugal but I’d much rather be the person who doesn’t have to be.

    • deathbecomesme says:

      Actually it IS coming out of our pockets. When people don’t pay their bills TW has to send to collections and spend more money collecting. Guess who they pass that extra cost on to?

      • Xboxer says:

        Again nobody said she is getting anything for free. For all we know maybe she just made payment arrangements with Time Warner. I’m pretty sure she isn’t getting free cable. Many people that get behind on their cable bill have no idea that you can call the cable company up and make arrangements. It actually takes a while before they won’t work with you because they all bill at least a month in advance. Either way I don’t know why people are adding their own version to the story “OMG she’s getting free cable because her husband is sick!”

        • deathbecomesme says:

          I never said she was getting free cable cuz her husband was sick. I said she wasn’t paying her bill and TW was right to turn it off.

          “We had a past due bill of 275.00 and couldn’t pay it “

      • TSXPS says:

        That’s reaching.

    • regis-s says:

      I don’t see the part where they’ll be getting anything for free. All it says is they couldn’t afford to pay while waiting to receive his disability pay.

      Whatever agreement was reached seems to be okay with Time Warner. I’m not sure why people here are getting so bent out of shape.

    • Skyhawk says:

      “It’s not coming out of your pockets so STFU!”

      Yeah, it actually is. Companies take into account non-paying customers in their pricing.
      So, everybody that has Time Warner pays for it.

  10. STXJK says:

    Wait, a debilitating medical condition gets me a free luxury? What do I have to have removed to get a free Lexus? I could use it in my recovery and all.

    • Xboxer says:

      Comparing cable TV to a Lexus? Seriously?

      • STXJK says:

        Yes. Cable TV is a luxury. As others have pointed out, read a book from the library. There’s a huge difference between free cable TV and free electricity or food.

        • Xboxer says:

          Please show me a dealership that is leasing a brand new Lexus for less than $200/month. Last time I checked just because you can afford cable doesn’t mean you are even in the ballpark to be able to afford a new Lexus.

  11. jeepguy57 says:

    My wife’s Audi has 120k miles on it and she would like a new one. But she is now a SAHM and, without the second income, we can’t afford one. Since we have been Audi customers in the past, perhaps Consumerist can help us get that new Audi we so deserve.

    • Xboxer says:

      How does getting a couple months of free cable compare to a free brand new Audi? For real? Go back and read the story. Nowhere does it say she is getting anything for free. As I’ve said in my other comments, for all we know she may have worked out a payment arrangement. All we know is they turned her cable off and now it’s back on. $275 is a little over a month of my cable. Free cable now equals a free luxury car. LMAO

      • STXJK says:

        A luxury is a luxury – that’s the comparison. Getting a luxury for free is a bit entitled. But I also would like to know if she got a payment arrangement, that would change my opinion. However as others have said…if she has to work out a payment arrangement for a luxury item, if it were me, I would be seriously trimming my budget.

      • jeepguy57 says:

        Exactly – sounds ridiculous, right? Well, as STXJK points out, a luxury is a luxury. Sure, my example is outrageous, but its the same concept. Cable TV is about as necessary as an Audi.

        My wife can drive a Honda and the OP can read a book.

        • Xboxer says:

          Your wife doesn’t “need” that Honda right? If she ever needs a kidney transplant and she goes on disability make sure you turn that car in. Also remove anything else in your home that isn’t needed to sustain life while you are at it. Everything down to the toilet paper in your bathroom because if you are going to be ridiculous and compare cable TV to driving a luxury car then I say anyone sick needs to eliminate toilet paper from their lives as well.

          • STXJK says:

            Um, if they go on disability and can still afford the Honda, she’s fine keeping it. Same thing with cable TV. But if I were on disability and couldn’t afford the Honda, I would trade it in, and find an alternative. I would get the cable TV turned off. Toilet paper has alternatives as well.

            I get that cable TV is a major part of your lifestyle from reading your posts, but it’s still a a luxury, and all luxuries require evaluation when there’s a big lifestyle change. If you can continue to afford them, great, but if not, time to trim.

            • Xboxer says:

              Actually cable isn’t really a huge deal for me. It’s there. I choose to have it. Sometimes I watch a lot of TV and sometimes I don’t. What bothers me most about the comments is I also have kidney disease and may someday need a transplant. Also a really good friend of mine just had his second kidney transplant and is still recovering and life isn’t exactly peaches and cream after having an organ transplant. Just the pills you have to take so a lot of damage to your body, nevermind the surgery. I have been sick as well and had to call the cable company and work out a payment plan. I had to hire a lawyer when I first got sick and spend months fighting with Social Security to get what was rightfully mine. Even after I won my judgement it still took another 6 months and more fighting to get a single penny from Social Security.

              All this lady did was make an arrangement and had her cable turned back on from what I gather from the story. I’ve never heard of free cable so I’m sure she isn’t getting anything for free. Again, I would hardly compare cable TV to driving a Lexus. If this story was about her getting a “free Lexus” because her husband was sick I would be siding with the comments. If all she wants is cable and that’s her and her husband’s little “luxury” in life then good for her getting it turned back on. It’s her life and her money. How are you in any place to tell her what to do and what to pay for??

              • STXJK says:

                I think the crux of our mis-match in comments is due to the lack of information – I assumed that she got the cable for free, and it appears others did too. She may very well have received a payment plan work-out and it’s her choice to spend their budget here. We just really didn’t get enough information.

                I’m sorry you’re having to go through that with the kidney situation. :(

              • Stickdude says:

                Thank you. I have finally seen the light. Even if she and her husband go without food and shelter, as long as they have their little “luxury” cable TV, all is good.

                Hungry? Just watch a cooking show. Surely that will fill your belly.

                Cold because your roof leaks? A home improvement show will have you feeling warm and dry in no time at all!

  12. Anubis says:

    There is some good to take out of this: a cable company did a good deed by going above and beyond.

    That said, Netflix is $8/month, as well as many cheap alternatives for entertainment. Don’t know the whole story, but you are behind on your cable bill and your story gives no indication that things are going to get better. It would be a good idea to rethink priorities. It’s one thing to say the stress of everything caused you to miss a payment and you worked it out with the help of consumerist (and the humanity of the cable company). It’s another to say you have no money and had to fight to keep your cable which you can’t afford.

    • Xboxer says:

      Well as I stated in an earlier comment, when my grandparents got really sick and had to stop working they were on a very limited income. They always had cable and my grandma always had her shows. That made them happy. They didn’t have a lot but that what they chose to have as a “luxury.” We all need little luxuries in life, even more so when we are sick. To some people cable isn’t that important. To others it makes them feel connected to the world. Who are we to judge? I don’t know a single person that doesn’t have something in their lives that makes them happy that they could eliminate and save money, whether that be cigarettes, beer, magazines, a shoe collection, video games, or cable TV. Damn. The guy had a kidney transplant. If he wants cable TV let him have it.

      • STXJK says:

        We are making the same argument. It’s all about choices of what to give up when the belt has to be tightened. If I’m having to choose between electricity and cable TV, then yeah, the cable is going to go.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      They would still need internet to watch Netflix. Maybe that’s part of what they are paying for with the cable company.

  13. Snapdragon says:

    The woman needed a little slack while she was waiting for the disability payments to kick in, and they gave it to her after she connected with the right people. It was very likely the money she did have was going towards essentials (like food), and it sounds like she has every intention of paying the bill in full (what with the proof of disability, etc. being provided).

    I don’t really have a problem with this, and I find no need to demonize Lenora for it.

  14. fun4us says:

    Um, I would not be planning on the promised donation from her, Consumerist. I would suspect she will handle this like she handles her other bills: by not paying.

  15. mmcnary says:

    Boy, I sure hope she logs in and sees what caring/compassionate people make comments here at Consumerist.com…

    • Stickdude says:

      Yes, because suggesting that people sometimes do without non-essentials that they currently can’t afford is the height of cruelty.

      How humankind survived for tens of thousands of years without cable TV I’ll never know.

    • jeepguy57 says:

      Well maybe she can email the President of Consumer Reports and have these posts taken down. It always annoys me when consumers use the EECB, or similar resources, to resolve issues that are primarily their own fault.

      I sympathize with the OP’s situation (health/income), but if you can’t pay your bill for a non-essential service, your service gets cut off. And using an EECB ruins it for those of us who really need it for a legitimate issue.

  16. PeriMedic says:

    Cable companies are always vilified on Consumerist as being heartless money-grubbers. Here, they did something nice. Instead of giving them credit for it, we focus on Lenore’s (assumed).

    There is so much information missing in this article, and everyone projecting his own details/assumptions. Let’s assume she’s a defendant in court:
    How many months does $275 cover? don’t know
    Was the arrangement that she did not have to pay that money at all? don’t know
    Did she pay the back money? don’t know
    What other medical conditions does the husband have? Deaf? Blind? Illiterate? don’t know
    Do they have the resources of the local library or are they in a rural or depressed area? don’t know
    Do they watch Toddlers and Tiaras or NatGeo, PBS, Smithsonian, CNN, Fox, MSNBC? dont know.
    Did they try Netflix and find that the selections were crap, or the good stuff ran-out quickly (as I have)? don’t know

    Let me take a moment to deliberate…I find Lenora Not Guilty due to lack of evidence and request her immediate release from internet abuse.

    • PeriMedic says:

      …assumed grifting and ignorance.

    • Stickdude says:

      For the umpteenth time, nobody is abusing or bashing Lenora. People are merely suggesting that if you don’t have the money to pay for non-essential services – the $275 past-due bill is evidence that she did not have the money to pay for cable – that perhaps you should do without those services until you do have the money to pay for them.

      And for that, people are accused of wanting to forcibly sell all of Lenora’s paid-for possessions and lock her up in a 5×5 prison cell. :(

      Yes, one side is definitely being extreme here, but not the side you think.

  17. Jawaka says:

    So you don’t have to pay your cable bill if you’re unemployed?

    Does this work with Oil, electricity and other utilities as well?

  18. callenjr says:

    I guess I did it all wrong…After going home from four months in the hospital, much of that in a coma, and calling all my debtors to get caught up or shut off unnecessary services, the only one who didn’t want to work with me at all was Dish. I guess all I needed to do was send an executive email bomb saying I can no longer pay you but I want your service for free. So foolish of me.