What does it take to get an entire neighborhood’s Internet connection working when something is clearly wrong on the cable company’s end? Judging from Alex’s experience…a lot. His neighborhood has had wonky connections in the summer for years. Unfortunately for Charter, Alex actually knows something about networking, and got them to actually fix the problem. Here, for your edification, is his tale of woe and ultimate triiumph.
For the last couple YEARS, our entire neighborhood has suffered instability in our internet connections during the summer months. So this summer, after a couple weeks of the internet being too unstable to use in the evening, I gave Charter a call. I believe this was Friday, July 8th.
The person on the phone, kind as she was, gave me the usual troubleshooting. I humored her, since this is what they’ve been trained to do. Once this was over, I asked her to check some figures in EqA and DRUM (the two network monitoring & diagnostic systems Charter uses), and she even admitted that this was obviously something wrong with the node. (Nodes connect a group of homes to Charters backbone) Alas though, she didn’t have the authority to send out the line-tech. I would have to have a cable-guy out, even though only line-techs can work on nodes.
So the cable guy comes out. We’ll call him John. John was understanding, but simply confirmed that it’s the node. He scheduled a line-tech to look at the node. Four days later, the problem was actually so bad, that I was going to friends’ houses just to do my work. This is also when I called Charter again.
Once again, the lady I spoke with on the phone was profoundly apologetic, but told me the line-tech had come out on the 12th and marked the job as complete. I then asked her to go into EqA and DRUM to check the some figures. She confirmed that things still weren’t right, but would have to setup an appointment for a cable guy again. I declined, since John had give me his work number. This is where things take a turn for the worst.
Although I haven’t heard back from John, the next day, a different technician came out to my neighbor’s house. We’ll call him Jimmy. My mother, albeit not too tech savvy, tried telling Jimmy the problem as I’d explained it to her. Jimmy ignored her, except for when she asked if he’d heard him, where he got sarcastic. I called Charter again. The lady I spoke with was EXTREMELY apologetic about Jimmy’s conduct, and asked me to get his ID number. When I found him and asked, he asked why I wanted it, but reluctantly gave it to the rep I was talking to. After that, she even volunteered to put me through to a supervisor. We’ll him Bob.
Bob was my second experience with a rude representative form Charter. I told him everything. All he wanted to talk about was Jimmy. I told him Jimmy upset me, but I was calling because Jimmy is the 4th or 5th person to come out for a problem that should have been fixed on the 12th. Bob refused to even acknowledge that the other reps had come out. I asked him to check our node in EqA and Drum. He did, but refused to comment on what he saw with regards to our neighborhood, saying only that my modem had been online for two days. I told him I had logs and screenshots that proved otherwise, to which he essentially called me a liar. He was then confrontational for the rest of the conversation, including when he practically interrogated me about how I accessed EqA and DRUM. I have never accessed EqA or DRUM. That would be illegal. When you have half a dozen techs to your house over the years though, you start to learn how they diagnose problems.
From this point forward, Bob was unwilling to do anything but send out another cable-guy. He even told me it would be impossible to try and get the same one again. I took his pointless offer of sending out another one, but then had to reschedule. Begin another call to Charter, except this time after I’d stated everything that went wrong, the rep gave me quite a large account credit for my troubles, and helped me reschedule for the 20th.
I still was upset that nothing would be done about Bob though, so I went to my local Charter office to complain. As far as I know, they don’t even have as much authority as Bob did, but where extremely apologetic, and would be sending a crew to babysit the node overnight! And it didn’t even require another visit from a cable-guy! Why couldn’t Bob have done this?
UPDATE: Since they send out a crew overnight, we haven’t had any internet problems. I kept my appointment for the 20th as well though, and the guy who came out said all looked well in EqA & Drum. It looks like the issue is resolved (for now), except this time I got a glimpse at how rude their higher-ups are & how little the line-techs seem to care. Half a month to resolve a problem affecting an entire neighborhood seems subpar to me. Moreover, Charter wasted my time and their money sending out cable-guys and crediting accounts instead of remedying the underlying problem. (At least it only took weeks instead of months to resolve it this time though)
Honestly, I used to rave about Charter, and how lucky I felt to have them instead of Comcast. I still feel lucky to not have Comcast, but the events of the past few weeks have made me bittersweet about Charter. The first-level reps are amazing, and truly want to help, but Charters protocols make it near-impossible for them to do so effectively, and if you talk to someone higher up, you’re just going to feel bullied.
Now if they could hire competent supervisors who aren’t bullies, and create a system where you don’t have to start at square one when a line-tech doesn’t do their job, they would be perfect. Those two problems alone though, and, well…it only takes a couple bad apples to ruin the lot.