Recently, I had to change internet providers, and the only solution, thanks to the local monopolies cable companies have in my area, was Time Warner Cable. I was promised free installation, and that no-one would have to come to my home, as well as being promised that the customer service representatives would follow up with me. Here's what really happened. If you've dealt with these companies before, you probably won't be surprised, but if you think they may have improved, well, read on.
Time Warner Cable Customer Experience
How Time Warner Cable Cost me $300 for supposedly "free" Installation
Days 1 and 2
Scheduling and Modem Pickup
I called Time Warner Cable and asked for installation to be done on the 15th of January. They said the latest day that they could arrange installation was the 13th, but that they would reschedule for the 15th when it became available. They promised that no-one would have to enter my home because I live in an apartment complex. I was told to go to the local company office and pick up my modem. That process was fairly easy, and I even got a better modem than I expected. (Since I'm paying $6 a month to rent it, it seems reasonable that I got a decent one.)
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Fast-Forward to Installation Day (We'll call it Day 3)
The customer service representative who took my order told me that my service would be turned on by 9:00 p.m. on January 15th. On the morning of January 15, I set up my modem and hooked it to the computer, and aside from a brief call to technical support, because the modem model they gave me was not listed in the quick guide they provided, the hookup went smoothly. I went off to work expecting to have service that evening.
When I returned home I checked the connection about every hour. Finally, when it was not turned on at 9:15, I called customer service again. I was greeted with a recording that someone would be out to my house between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m., and that someone over 18 with a photo ID would need to be present for that entire time. After speaking with an actual person, they confirmed I would have to be home, but they promised me that someone would call me a half-hour before they showed up, so at least I could make my doctor's appointment the next day.
Installation Day Revisited (Day 4)
I waited at home, taking a day off work, which cost me $160 in lost pay from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (with the exception of my doctor's appointment). At that point I called Time Warner Customer Service to find out if the technician was going to show up. I got a representative who put me on hold, waiting for a confirmation from her supervisor that the signal had been turned on. However, after two minutes, I was randomly transferred to another part of the country and another service representative, who then, without warning, transferred me to yet a third representative. She said that the original service request had not been properly entered, and that I did not need to have stayed home that day. The woman apologized and offered me a $20 credit, which I told them was ridiculous, but I took it because it was better than nothing. Then I was told that a technician would turn on my internet the next day, but that because the connection was outside, I would not need to be home. The representative promised to follow up with me the next day with a phone call to let me know the status of my installation.
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Installation Day: The Post-Sequel (Day 5)
I decided that I would try to outsmart Time Warner, and I called in to work to take another day off (another $160 in lost pay) just in case the technician needed to come inside. At 10:05 a.m. my doorbell rang, and sure enough it was the cable technician, who could not find the connection for my apartment. He was polite enough, but had to spend nearly two hours to get my internet connection properly hooked up, and said that had I not been home, I would not have received internet service until the next week. Although I tried to get in for a half day at work, because I did not know when the cable company would be out to the property, I could not get in any work that day.
The technician never did ask me for my photo ID.
And the promised phone call? It never materialized. It figures.
And Now, the Summary
- Mis-entered order (according to representative)
- Installation did not work on day 1, necessitating a day off of work for day 2. Cost: $160, minus a $20 credit on my next month's bill for a loss of $140.
- Installer did not show up on day 2, and representative told me I did not need to be home. I decided to stay home anyway and it turned out to be necessary. Cost $160 for another missed day of work (and a scolding from my boss), for a total cost of $300 (two days of work lost =$320, - $20 credit).
- And let's not forget the three hours I spent on the phone trying to deal with the representatives to get my order scheduled, including being randomly transferred to various people in other parts of North America, having to repeat the entire sequence of events to each new person (five times in total) and the never-materializing followup.
It's just a good thing that Time Warner has a monopoly where I live. Otherwise, a few articles like this one would ensure that they would lose all their customers. So, I challenge you, Time Warner employees. Clean up your act and make things right!
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And the Update:
One Year On
After several calls about not getting the correct speed, I was told that my signal strength was -13, and the the lowest "acceptable" signal strength was -10. The techs told me that they couldn't do anything about it, but if it was any consolation, at some indefinite time in the future (they couldn't commit to the year) speeds in my area would be upgraded.
And now, imagine it's one year since I first signed up. On the original form I filled out, the Terms and Conditions clearly stated, "This is not a promotional price. Offer does not expire."
And then on January 15, I open up my bill and discover that my rates have been jacked up by 50% without notice, on a price that was not supposed to expire. On February 3, I get a letter stating that my rates will go up as of January 15. I get on a chat window with Time Warner Cable and start giving them what-for. I eventually end up talking to a supervisor who resets my rate to the previous price, but only for twelve months. Oh, and they've raised the modem rental rate by $2.00 a month (plus taxes and fees).
Oh, well, at least that gives me twelve months to find a different service provider.
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