Cable Companies Agree To Pay NY Customers For Late Service Calls

In a joyous-for-customers agreement straight out of a Seinfeld episode, Cablevision and Time Warner Cable cut a deal with New York’s City Hall that requires the companies to give customers a free month of service if a technician arrives late to an appointment.

The New York Times writes the penalty will drop down to $25 per missed appointment in 2012, when Verizon Fios is expected to have enough infrastructure in place to compete on equal ground with the other two providers.

“We’re raising the bar, and I’m glad that the cable companies seem to understand that,” the City Comptroller told the Times.

Hopefully other municipalities will follow suit. And medical professionals who keep patients waiting, you’re next in line, suckas.

Cable Contract Has Fines for Late Service Calls [The New York Times]
(Thanks, PrincePoppycock!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

    I get the feeling that there’s gonna be a lot of free months of cable going around in the near future.

    A lot.

  2. AllanG54 says:

    I wonder how this will be proved. Does the cable tech admit to showing up late, does one have to file a claim. Seems like it may be tough to actually prove the times. I guess I need more info.

    • Thyme for an edit button says:

      Comcast has been having ads here in northern California saying that if they are late, you will get a credit on your account. I have no idea what the nature of the credit is though.

    • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

      We’ve had that here for a long time. You have to sign the tech’s work sheet on a special line stating they were there within the specified 4-hour (or whatever) appointment window. I got about $100 in credits before I dumped Comco$t. (Still wasn’t worth it.)

  3. bball123h says:

    Your appointment is scheduled for September 17, 2010, between the hours of 12:00 AM and 11:59 PM. Please make sure an account holder is present for services to be performed.

  4. apd09 says:

    I see this ending badly, just like the Dominos 30 minutes or it free guarantee when they first started. Now you are going to have cable installers and techs driving unsafe to attempt to make it to calls on time. If one of them gets in an accident and kills or seriously injures a person there are going to lawsuits galore.

  5. Thyme for an edit button says:

    Comcast has been having ads here in northern California saying that if they are late, you will get a credit on your account. I have no idea what the nature of the credit is though.

    • Tim says:

      I live in DC, and they don’t advertise that policy here, but they do it. I had a tech come late, and when I called to ask where he was, they gave me a $20 credit (actually, they said they would, and I had to track it down, but I got it eventually).

  6. ldnyc says:

    They’ve been required to do this for a while now., per:

    “Do I have recourse if the cable company fails to keep the appointment?”

    “Yes. All companies are required to give credit for failure, without excuse, to arrive at subscriber premises within the appointment period as follows:
    Installation: free installation and one month’s credit based on cable services initially selected.
    Service repair call: one month’s credit based on preceding month’s bill. In addition, all companies who fail, without excuse, to complete installation within the appointment period must give you free installation.”

    In the last 2 years I’ve gotten 6 mos of free credits for late or completely missed repair calls. The problem is that most people don’t know they are entitled to it and if you ask for a credit because of a missed or late appointment, they are trained to offer you a small token (usually $20-$25) credit. I know the rules and so every time they offer me a tiny credit for my inconvenience, I direct them to that web site and read it to them and after I’m put on hold for 5 minutes, they always come back and agree that I am entitled to a full month’s credit.

  7. al says:

    A lot of people think the techs are at fault for being late. Like they are off taking a break somewhere when they should be on their way. Sometimes it has to do with lousy routing of the scheduled jobs. When I was doing that type of work i would get four 2pm to 4pm jobs on my route because they overbooked the time schedule. I was late all the time. Glad im out of there.

    • Murph1908 says:

      Then the cable company needs to figure out a better process.

      The customer doesn’t CARE why the tech is late. The customer only cares that they took a half day off of work, and the tech didn’t arrive as promised.

      • dragonpup says:

        Another part of the problem is bad ‘work order accuracy’ doesn’t allocate the technicians enough time. Take this exchange…

        Tech: Hi, I’m from the cable company to install *looks at work order* one digital box on a prewired outlet
        Customer: On second thought, can you make it 4 boxes with new outlets. While you’re at it, the drop cable outside looks slightly too close to that tree. Can you rerun it?

        Alternatively, the customer says they asked for four when they called in. It happens quite often.

  8. FilthyHarry says:

    TimerWarner did this for me a long time ago. They used to advertise it. I got 2 free months of cable last time I signed up for it, back around ’96 because they were late 2 times for the install.

  9. DigitalShawn says:

    DirecTv has been comping customers for missed/late appointments for a while now. Just gotta call them.

  10. gqcarrick says:

    Time Warner has been doing this for a while, at least in Buffalo they have, for techs who are Late. Its a $20 credit.

  11. tinmanx says:

    They will just raise the fee charged for service calls if the problem is “with your equipment”. They always tell me that when I have issues with my Internet connection.

  12. Tim says:

    We can calculate the exact moment that a meteor will hit Jupiter, but we can only give you a three-hour window for your service call (and even then, it’s often inaccurate).

  13. iParadox{InLove} says:

    Woot! They ran another of my tips! =D

  14. CBenji says:

    Comcast where I live has been doing that for a while and they only give you $25. Hmm. A whole month would be so much nicer especially since they are scheduled to change out my router box this weekend. Would you believe they wanted to come on Saturday at 8:00 AM? I gave them other options. LOL

    • Murph1908 says:

      What I can’t believe is that you didn’t WANT a Saturday 8:00 appointment.

      1. No day off work.
      2. Doesn’t kill half the day waiting around for a 5 hour window.
      3. It’s probably the first job of the day, so there’s no chance of being late due to a previous job going over.

      If the phone agent offered me an 8:00 Saturday appointment without me asking, I’d send him or her flowers.

      • DarthCoven says:

        I agree. I’d gladly take the 8am saturday appointment. Once the tech is done doing his job I can go back to sleep.

      • hoi-polloi says:

        I have to agree, for exactly the reasons you mentioned. It may be earlier than some like to get up on a Saturday, but I’ll take it in a heartbeat. I’d offer the tech a cup of coffee and some toast, to boot. If I have a choice, I’ll always take the earliest stop, doctor or dentist visit, etc.

  15. hoi-polloi says:

    I don’t enjoy waiting for service people any more than the next guy, but I have a good deal of sympathy for the people in the field. I used to work as a chimney sweep. As someone already mentioned, poor route scheduling can really mess up your day. If the office books 4 jobs spread across the city in a three-hour window, it’s almost assured I’ll be late for one of them. I’d do my best to call and inform customers of a more likely arrival, but there’s not much else I could do in the moment. I realize it’s a company issue and not the customer’s concern, but customers should realize this is equally frustrating to the technicians.

    One thing I worry about is technicians cutting corners on more involved jobs. If they know they’re going to catch hell for not finishing an install or for being late for their next appointment, some employees may be tempted to rush rather than getting a job right. You have to wonder how much these policies contribute to installation issues.

    • jimmyhl says:

      All good points from an insider. But, if you know these things, it’s likely that cable providers know them as well and they seem not to care. As a result they end up with municipal authorities setting down the rules. Cable providers could probably avoid many of the individual problems that lead to customer discontent. Hiring more (qualified) techs would be a good start. Everyday courtesy would probably dampen consumer discontent as well. There are a million stores out there about customers who call about techs missing the window where the provider does little to mollify the caller and sometimes makes a bad situation worse by showing indifference or even misrepresenting facts (telling the customer that the tech was there but no one answered the doorbell when there is no door bell, etc.

  16. TPA says:

    Just wait, they’ll hire a ton of untrained part-timers just to be able to say they sent someone, even if the guy can’t fix a PB&J sandwich let alone crimp a wire.

  17. Bernardo says:

    I bet this is going to cause larger wait time windows. Instead of a 4 hour window its going to be about 8. I wish NYC wasnt split up by the providers. The bronx has cable vision, manhatten is time warner. And dish and Verizon are spotty at best. I want all 4 all over the city. Then lets see what happens.

  18. Just_A_Guy says:

    I had a cable tech not show up at all, and when I called to ask what was happening, was told that they rang my doorbell, and I did not respond…even gave me the time. This wasn’t possible though, as I was sitting on the front door stop, and the doorbell goes straight to my cell phone. I got nothing out of the deal. I think what we’ll see though is a lot of people “not at home” when the contractor shows up.

  19. RetentionAgent says:

    Time Warner Cable does this currently with a $20.00 On Time Guarantee. You just have to call in and report it after the window has passed.. ie: call in at 415 if the tech was supposed to be there between 2 and 4…

  20. Lunanina says:

    The Baltimore Comcast techs were 2 hours late to set up my cable. They deducted 20 dollars off of the bill as a result of the missed appointment. Not quite a month but I was shocked to get even that much really.