Cablevision Claims They Are Not Lying Liars, But Mysteries Remain

Cablevision responded to our post chastising their attempt to force customer to upgrade to digital service by pointing to an unrelated FCC mandate. Cablevision admits that there is no connection between their unilateral business decision to cut channels and the FCC-mandated transition to digital television, but their statement leaves several questions unanswered. Read Cablevision’s statement and our response, after the jump.

Cablevision writes:

“There is no direct connection between the digital transition of broadcast television stations that will occur across the nation in early 2009 and Cablevision’s decision to transition away from the duplicate analog feeds of a certain number of channels that we already carry in digital format.

Great! This fully supports what we wrote and is an important clarification for anyone who was confused by Cablevision’s letter or their customer service representatives.

Unfortunately, Cablevision goes on to say:

Neither our customer service training, nor our customer communications, link the two in any way.”

Hold on. Let’s immediately disprove the second assertion. We posted two recordings unequivocally showing that their “customer communication” blamed the FCC for the loss of analog programming.

As for Cablevision’s training, we spoke with four customer service representatives and each one said the same thing. These weren’t rogue agents conjuring up their own unsupportable explanations. Two CSRS put us on hold to consult their materials, came back, and repeated their assertions.

When we asked the agents to tell us who instructed them to mention the FCC, they expressly stated that they were following Cablevision’s training. We strongly suspect that if we (or you) called back, we would again receive the exact same answer. Could all the agents have made the same mistake, and lied about their training? Absolutely, but Occam’s Razor seems to shred any suggestion of a coincidence.

Cablevision admits that their agents repeatedly provided incorrect information. Two questions remain: Are they now lying about their training; and, how will the FCC admonish Cablevision for their deceptive and predatory behavior?

PREVIOUSLY: Cablevision Blatantly Lies To Subscribers As The FCC Twiddles Its Thumbs
Cablevision Uses Digital TV Transition To Upsell Basic Cable


Edit Your Comment

  1. elislider says:

    ha! caught red handed. or something…

  2. Okaasan says:

    The FCC will probably handle Cablevision just like they are handling Comcast.

  3. Pylon83 says:

    I severely doubt that they actually “trained” the CSR’s to say that stuff, at least not as a company wide directive. Usually this stuff comes about because some bozo CSR supervisor thinks they know everything and start telling people the FCC this and the FCC that. I’d bet that the “official” training material, official communication say nothing of the sort. These kinds of things are usually due to poor communication between the supervisors and the peons they communicate this stuff to. We had the same problem at a cable company I worked at. The dipshit supervisors made up what ever they could to fill in any blanks in their knowledge. It’s easy to blame the government, so that was usually their answer.

  4. Regardless of whether it is in the training or no, clearly there is a relatively widespread issue, since the same thing happened more than once. We’ve all called up a customer service line and received the wrong story–sometimes many wrong stories–but I, for one, rarely receive the same wrong story from several different people at the same company. A decent company would recognize that and take steps to fix it, even if the problem had not originated with training materials or similar.

  5. @Pylon83: You have a team meeting a hard copy and then a link on the KDB with the same info on what to say to customers They also have a Q&A part just in case t customer need more info 9 times out of 10 its shit Ask to speak to a call center mamager not a sup And Yes they are trained like that if they follow the steps they should all sound like robots

  6. coopjust says:

    Cablevision is being really sketchy about it. There online media admits the truth, but the commercials try to be deceptive.

    I’m a current customer, and I feel insulted by Cablevision. They are the best game in town (15mbps/2mbps down/up is unbeatable, and the HD DVR depicted above works excellently with superb picture quality) and I don’t want to put up a dish.

    FiOS is coming soon though, so Cablevision should cut the antics.

    They are switching to Switched Digital Video, which allows them to fit a lot more (especially HD) content. Also, from what I’ve read, you can fit a couple HD feeds in the space of one HD feed. It makes sense to get everyone to go to digital cable.

    This will be less of an issue when they’re mandated to take cablecard STBs in June, but until then, you must rent for $6 a month if you want digital. And I am opposed to that for my 15″ TV.

  7. RumorsDaily says:

    Wait, how is this predatory?

  8. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    @Pylon83: I agree. I’ve worked in a call center before and some of the supervisors I worked for had some serious Little Big Man know-it-all complexes. So they probably asked someone who they THOUGHT knew better and said “FCC”.

  9. Trai_Dep says:

    When will they learn? It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up.

  10. Trai_Dep says:

    Well, it’s the crime too. But you know what I mean.

  11. TheUncleBob says:

    So… Wal*Mart, Best Buy and others get fined by the FCC for not telling customers anything and customers not doing their homework, but Cablevision is directly lying to customers and it’s okay?

  12. ask an international or nhl customer how does switch video work for them …not

  13. Would it be funny to see the scripting that they ( cablevision ) uses for this issue hmmm??

  14. huadpe says:

    @RumorsDaily: They’re saying that the FCC is making you pay them more money to keep getting your cable channels. In fact, they’re just increasing your price. They’re raising prices and blaming it on a nonexistent regulation instead of them trying to get more money, which would cause people to object/negotiate.

  15. TechnoDestructo says:


    What’s doubly-genius about that, blaming it on non-existent regulation, is that it poisons their ignorant customers against the idea of regulation…the only thing that could prevent (or at least render transparent) the price increase that they are blaming on regulation.

  16. azntg says:

    @huadpe: Well said.

    As much as I want to say: “Well, it’s not predatory when you can get a digital OTA for free (or relatively cheap),” I realize that not everybody can enjoy the variety of channels available OTA by many New Yorkers or are even able to get a decent reception (I hear those living in Manhattan between high rises can’t even get a decent signal with an antenna nor will their building assoc. let them install an antenna)

  17. jfischer says:

    Cablevision’s “reggaeton” ads for their “Optimunm Online” service bundle are a bigger crime than their lies about why they moved several channels from analog to digital.

  18. azntg says:

    @jfischer: Oh yes, absolutely annoying! Grrr…

    On a further off-topic note, that ad was definitely written for an English speaking audience. I saw the exact same ad aired at a Spanish language channel and it doesn’t have the same ring to it. Boo! (Stereotypical thing… I thought it might’ve had a chance to sound good in Spanish too)

  19. packetscan says:

    ok consumerist is going down hill FAST.
    Cablevision started that over 3 years ago to force an upgrade that was needed on lots of set-top boxes.

  20. @huadpe: Well they all have raised rates : fios cable dish Trust that cable does its homework to see who has raised what and still have their increase to be lower than everyone else

  21. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @packetscan: Thanks for the enlightening post. What happened to the ! button !!!

    If you don’t like this kind of story, go elsewhere. I found the story interesting and in the flavor of other posts here. Is the problem that there is no ‘consumer’ for you to blame in this one?

  22. DrBologna says:

    @coopjust: Ummm… for the record, that HD-DVR is the same one I have with Time Warner, and it’s a piece of shit. First, it’s slow as hell. You change the channel, and 5 seconds later, it shows up. I know, I know, “5 seconds is nothing.” Yeah right. You try going to the guide, selecting a channel, then count out five mississippis every time before you change it. See how fast it gets old. Also, and much more annoyingly, almost twice per month, the box starts doing something crazy. This includes:

    1. When switching to a channel from the guide, keeping the guide picture (you know, the tiny one in the upper right corner) and just filling the rest of the screen with black
    2. Cutting off the sound
    3. Refusing to do ANYTHING, including just changing channels normally
    4. Getting stuck on the DVR list

    The only way to fix this is to reset the box; and, that doesn’t mean just turning it off. It means unplugging it and waiting a few seconds before plugging it back in. Sadly, then comes the waiting. Just like everything else this box does, a reset takes FOREVER. Seriously, it takes about 20 minutes for this stupid box to boot up.

    That’s not a big deal, except when you are trying to watch a show-which I obviously am, or else the box wouldn’t be fucking up, and I wouldn’t be trying to reset it. Or, imagine it happens when you’re watching one show and recording another. Now you’re screwed out of two show. Joy!

    Oh, and fuck cablevision too.

  23. @packetscan:
    Well 3 years ago you didnt really need box yuo can just take the cable the hook it up to your tv and get family and basic channels even now most of the channels you can still get with just tht wire if you live on long island NJ is assed out they need a box Brooklyn they need a box or they will only get 2-22 bronx I forgot but it should fall into play with Brooklyn

  24. freejazz38 says:

    It’s very simple. Whenever a cable company rep tells you something, ANYTHING, just believe the opposite. Incidently, this goes for ANY corporation. If they told you the sky was blue, it’s probably for their profit, and it’s probably red

  25. sleze69 says: Calling all disgruntled Cablevision call center employees. Send us your FCC is to blame script!

  26. Imafish says:

    Headline should have been: “Cablevision lies about not lying.”

  27. KogeLiz says:

    Good point. I could definitely see that.

  28. KogeLiz says:
  29. unravel says:

    @DrBologna: Your DVR may suck, but honestly, that model doesn’t seem to be too bad. I’m not experiencing any of the issues that you are, and this is definitely a step up from the previous model that we had. If you can find the time, and if the folks at your local TW office are decent, just swing by with the box, explain the issue and ask for an exchange

  30. mbd says:

    Time-Warner uses different software on there boxes than Cablevision. Cablevision uses SARA software, TW uses either Passport or Navigator, depending upon location. All 3 softwares have issues, but from what I read online SARA seems to be the most stable (gee, that’s scary).

  31. mbd says:

    Cablevision and TimeWarner use different software on their boxes. Cablevision uses SARA software, TW uses either Passport or Navigator, depending upon location. From what I have read online, SARA seems to be the most stable of the software (gee, a scary thought!).

  32. @sleze69:lol right is right wrong is wrong and for disgruntled employees for you go to

  33. dieselman8 says:

    RCN in chicago is also pulling the same BS. They’re cutting off analog cable and forcing its subscribers to rent digital cable boxes for $5 a TV.

  34. DrBologna says:

    @unravel: “and if the folks at your local TW office are decent”


    Okay, okay, I’m good now HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!



  35. borregopass says:

    Actually in NY, Time Warner uses Mystro software. I think it may be Time Warner’s own, I can’t be sure from my reading. They did have a Mystro project announced a couple of years ago which fuels my assumnption.

    From everything I can tell personally and from reading others complaints Mystro is very user unfriendly, and vastly unstable. IOW, both other software choices would be better for the consumer – hence TW chooses Mystro.

  36. Totorototoro says:

    Get ready for some serious wrist slapping and finger wagging by the FCC over this.

  37. coopjust says:


    From what I understand, TWC is rolling out the 8300HDC, rather than the 8300HD (non c) that I have. I hear a LOT of complaints about the former, virtually none about the latter.

  38. camman68 says:

    According to the FTC website, “cable operators must make local broadcasters’ primary video and program-related material viewable by all of their subscribers.” The FCC’s ruling today allows cable operators to comply with the viewability requirement by choosing to either: (1) carry the digital signal in analog format, or (2) carry the signal only in digital format, provided that all subscribers have the necessary equipment to view the broadcast content.” Here is the PDF version.


  39. I’ve just filed a complaint with the NY Public Service Commission ([]) in connection with this situation. We’ll see what develops. {ProfJonathan}

  40. GastonMacross says:

    How’s this one? After feeling forced into ordering 2 digital converter boxes from Cablevision in order to continue to receive some of the channels we currently receive, I arranged to have them mailed and they were to arrive in time for the 5/13 cutoff. When they hadn’t arrived by yesterday, I called Cablevision and now they’re telling me there’s a problem with filling all the orders. I may get them by Friday! In the meantime, I can’t watch those channels that are now being blocked through no fault of my own! I’ve contacted Cablevision numerous times and get no satisfaction. I filed a complaint with the FCC. On another point, isn’t it interesting that you’re not reading anything about this “scam” in Newday? Could it be that the Dolans’ are buying Newsday??? Think about it. Newsday jumps on any other perceived “scandal”. Why not this one? Thanks for your time.

  41. knitsafghans says:

    I called to complain on the cutoff day (this week in Piscataway). They told me that I was entitled to the free cable box. This did not thrill me because we have 8 TV’s, 5 of them heavily watched (2 kids’ rooms, our room, kitchen, and the HDTV with Tivo Series 3 – and 2 cable cards – in the den). When I called back to schedule the cable box appointment they told me that I wasn’t really eligible, then, after I went to a supervisor, told me I was, but only if I TURNED IN A CABLE CARD !!!!! This was because of the HD channels I had just lost for my Tivo. I asked the supervisor whether he could with a straightface advise me to trade the capability to record two programs at once for the ability to get the Kung Fu channel/Monster channel etc.? He couldn’t. In the end I got a credit for the cost of a cable box for a year. Oh my I can’t wait for FIOS!!!!

  42. KirbyJenkins says:

    I literally went throught this just this morning.

    I got home last night, and found that I was missing about a dozen channels.

    When I called cablevision this morning, I was told that in addition to the
    cable box I already have, I would have to shell out an additional $6.50 per
    set to per month to view the channels I was getting yesterday.

    To be fair, the CSR did not tell me it was an FCC mandate, but part of the
    bandwith migration intiative (or whatever). I then had her transfer me to
    her supervisor. After about a 10 minute wait, I got the supervisor on the
    phone, who told me the same thing.

    I really didn’t expect any sort of satisfactory resolution, but I figured it
    was worth some time to give these people a piece of my mind. And I am sorry
    to say I “killed the messenger”. After frustrating the supervisor to the
    point where he couldn’t utter anything but “I’m Sorry”, I told him his
    answers were unacceptable, and asked for his supervisor. He put me on hold,
    and I just hung up and wrote them a nasty note.

    Meanwhile, I have copons for my digital to analog converters, but is it even
    worth it? I realize the older tvs will need them eventually, but it isn’t
    going to solve this problem, right???

  43. timesquare says:

    Cablevision is very shady at times. Recently when I switched off my service because they started charging me almost $150 for the triple play which costed me $99 throughout the year. I disables my services and told them i can’t afford it anymore.
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  44. TooOldForThisNow says:

    This is an old chat, but…

    As previously said, for each analogue channel being taken off, 3 to 4 digital non-HD channels can be put in and I guess about 2 HD channels. The additional money they raise by renting digital boxes can be used for enhancement of their network, equipment, or line their pockets. So they force us to pay for their capital expenditures that were already covered when they set the base package prices!

    Base line: We are paying them twice for the same thing. Isn’t it fraudulent or even illegal to ask for something to be paid twice? We pay for a package of channels, not for a specific delivery mechanism. Ok, someone wants all HD: Go pay for it. Someone else doesn’t: Pay for it, too. That’s what comes out at the end of the technology jungle. But whatever technology Cablevision chooses for transmission, analogue, digital, copper, fibre, is their business and I couldn’t care less, therefore I shouldn’t pay for their decision.

    On top of that, Cablevision praises digital as a picture quality improvement. Actually, the picture quality decreases when going digital: The data is being compressed and the provider can decide by how much. This decreases the number of displayable colours for each frame. It is obvious when many different base colours and shades are in a picture. Looks like reducing a computer picture to 256 colours to save storage space. And let alone these blocks of smudge when the transmitter and cable box run out of sync…until the next synchronization frame is being transmitted. Happens in my area during lightning.

    Cablevision just started to charge me for the converter after 1 year free usage. I’ll threaten to take them to small claims court. Don’t think that’ll accomplish much, but let’s see what’s happening when I actually file the case with the county court and they get served.

    At the very minimum I want an option to buy a box of my choice vs. renting whatever they decide. Can’t imagine a base box to be more than 1 year of rent.

    Anybody an idea on how to get dual tuner Picture in Picture working except using 2 cable boxes per TV and a jungle of remotes?