Charter Doesn't Care If You Can't Watch BBC America

“I have a TIVO HD that uses two cablecards. On 9/27/2007, I realized that channel 196 (BBC America) was not working on either card; it did not appear to be authorized. I called Charter customer service (as I have had to do for many problems over the last couple months), and their immediate response was, as usual, to send out a technician. I called back a bit later and suggested that they try removing the tier from my account and adding it back in – this technique had fixed another random outage affecting all HD channels that had occurred earlier in the week. As with most calls to Charter customer service, I felt that the representative didn’t really know much of anything about the service and that I had to troubleshoot my own issue. The technique didn’t fix it, so the technician came the next day (9/28/2007). This was the 4th technician to come to my home in the last 2 months (all because of problems with Charter service), and like the others, he did nothing that I couldn’t have done myself…”

…He admitted to *never* having dealt with cablecards before, and thus knew absolutely nothing about what was required to set them up. I felt like I had to train Charter’s own technician. He brought a new card, which I was pretty convinced wouldn’t fix the problem since it was being seen on both of the cards I already had. Nevertheless, he went ahead and called the Charter operator to begin pairing it with my account (and I, of course, had to find all the numbers for him since he apparently had never seen a cablecard before).

While this was going on, I received a call from someone at Charter. I was told that I should cancel the technician call because the issue with channel #196 was a head-end issue and the tech wouldn’t be able to do anything. Unfortunately, by this time the tech had been at my home for over half an hour and the process of changing cards had already begun.

The new card the tech brought was deemed to be somehow faulty by the operator. He put the old cards back in, but the operator was convinced that they would stop working within minutes. He then got up to leave without fixing the problem. I made a call to Charter customer support immediately, telling a manager that my problem was not fixed (and in fact was made worse), that the technician had no idea what he was doing, and that I was getting fed up with dealing with it. The manager put me on hold while, I assumed, she was on the phone with the local dispatcher. After a lengthy wait, she came back on and told me that I would be receiving a call from an experienced technician in a few minutes, and that he would be coming out to my home that night. I did tell her that another Charter representative had called to tell me that the issue couldn’t be fixed by a tech, but she assured me that it could. She also promised a credit for the time I went without service.

Two hours later, no technician had called. I called Charter customer service back, and was told by a different manager that (as I had been told earlier in the day) it was a head-end issue and could not be resolved by a technician. I asked when it would be fixed, but she could not give me an answer. I gave it a few days before calling again.

I called back on 10/6/07, a week after I first reported the problem. My call was answered by a Charter representative who admitted she knew nothing about cablecards. Her very first response was to schedule a technician to come to my home. I explained to her that a tech had come out for the very same issue a week earlier, and that one of her coworkers had already told me that a technician could not do anything. She went to talk to her supervisor, and came back a few minutes later to tell me that the supervisor agreed that a technician must be sent. Again I tried to explain that a tech had already been to my home and had not been able to do anything. After a few minutes of this, she game up and transferred me to her supervisor. Initially, the supervisor game me the same story of wanting to send a technician. However, after I explained again and again that a tech had already been to my home, she looked up the issue in the system (and I have no idea why this wasn’t the very first thing done) and found out that, yes, it was a known head-end issue that other people were having as well and, no, a technician couldn’t fix it on my end. She put me on hold while, supposedly, she tried to verify the status of the problem with whoever actually fixes problems at Charter. She came back on after a while and could not tell me anything new, only that it would be fixed sometime in the future. I asked her if it would be helpful for me to call my local Charter office. She said that it probably would, but there was no number she could give me for it. She then said that she would request that they call me within the next 24 hours. I have yet to receive that call, 5 days later.

I am in an extremely frustrating position. The channel still does not work. I have no idea when it will be fixed. Whenever I call the only number I have for Charter, I get a representative who has no idea what they are talking about and, usually, tries to send a technician to my home, even though I have been told there is nothing a tech could do. Besides this, the technicians that have come to my home have been universally ignorant of the product they are supposed to be installing. If I get through to a customer service representative who actually understands the issue, all they can tell me is that it is “being looked at”. I have no way of contacting the people who are actually fixing the problem (if they exist) to check on its status.

I know it’s only one channel, but this is just the latest of a long string of issues. I am paying for Charter’s service, and Charter needs to make sure that it works. I am very tired of constantly being forced to talk to representatives and technicians who know less about my problem and cable in general than I do. Besides this problem, it took several weeks and 3 technicians to even get my digital cable setup to work to begin with. The service is flaky; it has become deauthorized several times for no apparent reason. The technicians that come out don’t know what they are doing and are typically dishonest on top of that. 3 of the 4 techs I have dealt with have requested to use my phone because theirs is “broken” or “the battery is low”. One of these 3 kept getting calls on his “broken” phone throughout the visit, proving that he just wanted to use my minutes instead of his own. Also, I was charged for all 3 service calls (the billing statement for the 4th hasn’t come yet, but I don’t have high hopes), even though the issue has always been plainly Charter’s fault. I was able to get a refund for 2 of them by calling customer service several times, but I should not have to fight for the right to not get ripped off.

I have never had such a prolonged bad experience with a company’s customer support. I have also never dealt with a company that is this disorganized; time and time again I am told conflicting things by different Charter employees. Amazingly, even after completely failing to fix my issue, the representatives almost always try to sell me more service (usually telephone service). I don’t see why I would want to trust Charter for more service when there have been so many problems with what I already have. I am forced by my apartment complex to use charter if I want to have cable service; rest assured that that is the only reason I am still putting up with this (for now, anyway). I used to have Comcast at my previous apartment. I always thought it was bad, but it wasn’t until I switched to Charter that I knew how bad things can really be.


As our friends over the pond might say, that’s bollocks. Sound like you’re in need of some TLE: Tender Loving Escalation. Try sending your complaint to this guy:

Charter Communications
Neil Smit, CEO
ph: 314-965-0555 (ask for “the office of Mr. Smit.” This gets you forwarded to a voicemail box. Who knows whether anyone who cares actually checks it. Dial by name directory doesn’t work either).
fx: 314-965-9745

Either that, or switch to some sort of dish-based tv service.