Time Warner And The Magical Smoking Modem That Is Entirely Your Fault

Let it be known that if your modem starts smoking after a Time Warner tech was just at your house messing with it, it’s your fault for not having their branded router. Reader Paul writes:

I live in Columbus Ohio, and have been a Road Runner subscriber for about 10 years. We also have digital phone from Time Warner (TW provides the RR service in Columbus.) Our digital phone service went out on Monday morning. We called from a cell phone, and they sent out a tech this morning to fix it. He did. At around 3PM, 4-5 hours after he left, the Internet and phone service both went out (The Internet had not gone out on Monday when the digital phone went out.) I unplug the modem, plug it back in; standard stuff. It still won’t assign me an IP. I call them from my cell phone, and they confirm that it is out from their end as well. The person tells me that I can continue plugging it in/out just to test it periodically. I do. When plugged it in at 4:30, however, I hear a crackling noise, and see smoke. My modem has fried. Smells like crap, freaks my 9 year old brother out

Time Warner’s response?

They say “Well, we can get a tech there on Thursday at 3-5, but that’s all I can say.”

Paul escalated through several supervisors, and after much personal strife he got a tech to come out sooner. When the tech finally showed up, he diagnosed the problem.

His analysis of the fried and smoking modem: our router did it….And then he tells us why we should buy the Time Warner router. I explain to him that I have looked into theirs, but we actually have the the same model that they sell, they just put some new logos on it.

Silly, Paul. Didn’t you know that your router was in league with Voldemort? You can tell by its lack of Time Warner logo stickers and the production of magical blue smoke. And there were other signs, too:

Meghann Marco: Does your WiFi breathe fire and make it rain?
Paul: Yep. It also makes all children within a 15 foot radius weep.

There you have it. The tech had nothing to do with it. The story has a happy ending, Paul took his business to another company. Let’s hope they have better techs…for the sake of muggles everywhere.—MEGHANN MARCO

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(Photo: brappy!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. B says:

    This is why whenever I have an issue with my cable modem, I disconnect it from the router and hide the router before the tech comes over. I’m not sure what effect that would have on the digital phone service, though.

  2. Silly, Paul. Didn’t you know that your router was in league with Voldemort?

    Yep. It also makes all children within a 15 foot radius weep.

    I can’t decide which line I love more but this made my day.

  3. kenposan says:

    That is unfortunate. I, too, live in Columbus and have Road Runner through Time Warner. I have never had a problem with them, although we do lose channels periodically. “reboot your converter box” was the answer.

  4. Firstborn Dragon says:

    Sometimes these things just fry. I’ve seen it happen with our router. I was downstairs reseting it and the modem, and it caught fire inside.

    No real reason for it, I had just plugged it back in, and it caught fire. Fortunetly the modem wasn’t damaged, but it was freaky. Had to unplug it and nearly burnt my hand off trying to move it, so it didn’t burn the shelf it was on.

  5. Papa K says:

    I also live in Cbus, and my experience with their techs have been excellent. Not on the phone though, they employ some sorry souls on that end.

    The problem here also lies in the same factoids with cell phones – if you use non-branded equipment, they’ll blame the non-branded equipment, no matter how improbable.

    Honestly, I call bullshit on the tech’s diagnosis, but it’s one of those incidents of “prove me wrong” that is rather difficult.

  6. Papa K says:

    @kenposan: Reboot your convertor box is always their answer.

    VOD not working? Reboot it. It’s not getting channels anymore? Reboot it. They can’t see it? Reboot it. I swear it’s the only thing they know how to do, other then schedule techs three weeks later and give you the wrong date and time.

  7. FLConsumer says:

    In some ways, I’m glad I have Verizon DSL. No on-site techs to screw up things. If they can’t handle it over the phone, they either send out a line tech whose job is solely to make sure the DSL signal is there or they’ll send a new modem. If I ever have to call them, I dumb down my configuration substantially. No mention of the linux firewall, separate linux router, switches, wifi, etc. They’d really freak out if they knew I had a form of IP controlling every single light switch in my home.

  8. AcidReign says:

    …..Yep, you have to hide radio-shack splitters, non-cable company routers, etc, or they’ll automatically blame un-approved equipment. I was once told by a Charter tech that my expensive, gold-plated coax I bought at Tweeter was sub-standard! And of course, they use the cheapest junk cables they can buy in bulk…

  9. Eugene says:

    I’m in Columbus OH also. Road Runner was fine until a couple years ago when our service got so slow to be unuseable. After multiple service calls a supervisor told me they didn’t care if my wife wasn’t able to get online for her college class or me not being able to connect to my company VPN, I was told their service was for “entertainment purposes only”. I asked about dial up backup and was told I would have to use the AOL software which meant I had to find a Windows PC and load that crap on it. I ended up switching to Wide Open West and RR came out and clipped their and Wow’s cable so I actaully got to test Wow’s dial up backup.

  10. 420pwnd says:

    I work for TWC & I sadly know how our techs can be. We try to hire competent ones but usually here in tech support, we end up apologizing for their lack of knowledge. Usually in the sub’s situation here, we would do our best to try & send someone back on the same day if it went back out but if not, then the next day. Also any tech that is worth a damn would just replace the smoking & fried modem instead of blaming other equipment. I feel bad that he got the short bus tech.

  11. JDBarrington says:

    I also work for TWC, and, being a field service technician, I know what some of our guys tell the subs. It really comes down to the individual person. If it were my choice, I would employ only people with a technological expertise, but, sadly, that is not the case. Myself being in school at OSU for IT (Network Engineering) and being a techy freak, I know a thing or two about how our hardware works, how it sucks, and the like. Like the tech support rep above said, replacing the mta would have been the easiest and sadly, yes, our routers are sickly overpriced. :) I hate to hear you switched elsewhere. My advice? If you ever decide to try TWC again, request a Time Warner InHouse Tech and your much more likely to get someone knowledgeable as opposed to the contractors that we sadly employ.

  12. JDBarrington says:

    A@AcidReign: Actually, there is some substance to those claims. 90% of those “gold splitters” stores love to price gouge and sell you lack what is known as a reverse path. If you know anything about how a signal travels through a cable system, anything not analog has to have a reverse path (ie: a specifically set frequency per cable co) that allows your equipment to transmit data at the bandwidth necessary for interactive products, such as Road Runner and cable boxes etc. Also, the cheap china-made quality of some of those brands like to solder the innards of those splitters with very thin, very weak connections that often break easily or degrade any signal dB rating above 0. 0 dB is the ideal level for any cable system, often times that signal is between +1 and +12, which is not bad at all, but can literally be too high for the cheapo splitters. The cabling that we use, while in bulk, is actually very high quality and contains 2x the FCC required shielding for RG6; many techs, such as myself, order quad shielded cabling which is very resilient to damaging and carrys signal with a lower dropoff rate than that of the standard RG6. If your looking for splitters, simply make sure that they offer a 5-1000mhz or higher rating and that they allow a reverse path for data. (Regal, Antronix, and PDI splitters all allow reverse frequencies)