Time Warner Cable Sucks.

Here is my recent letter to time warner cable. Understand that it is long, because I take the time to explain the lengths they went to in order to make my customer experience with them extra, super bad! Don't worry about spending any more time reading this than Time Warner will, but share it if you want to help me expose their corporate conglomerate evil-ness. Which is substatial. 

As an aside, I got a paper cut folding the letter, so they continue to stick it to me even still. 

Dear Time Warner Cable,


Let me start off by saying that it irks me to call you dear. It even riles me slightly to infer that someone on earth might have endearing thoughts for you. That being said, I would like to take a moment to point out that I realize that an individual is reading this letter. Well, an individual or a soulless and hastily programmed evil robot that embraces all of the qualities that its evil nebulous overlords and executives of Time Warner Cable clutch greedily next to their dry, shriveled, black hearts. To aforementioned individual, I apologize for your having to read this, and know that I don’t hate you. You are probably a cool person. We should grab a beer sometime. I hate the company you work for. I hate Time Warner.


Now that I am done being overly dramatic, let me tell you a little story. It is a rather long story, unfortunately. Long in the way of tragic relationships that everyone knew, except for the one person in the relationship, should have ended long ago or maybe never even started. It is long in the way that some tales are needlessly tragic and infuriating because of minuscule details missed or minor mistakes being made along the way that history will look at and lament the simplicity with which the tale could have gone so differently. It is long in the way that those “Meet the Parents” movies just keep throwing ridiculous crap in that makes you want to put your own eyes out because of the asinine incredulity of it all.


Now that I am done being overly drama…. Oh, wait. It looks like this whole letter is going to be overly dramatic, so sit back and I’ll spin ye a yarn!


On August 21st I moved into a new house. Exciting right? I know, it was a really big step for me and a big life change! You know, it was bittersweet and there is a lot of back-story, but hey! I’ll tell you about it later. Well, I am a bit of an internet junkie, and so is my roommate. So, truth time: we set up internet first thing. Even before electricity. We were pretty stoked. So of course I called early to Time Warner Cable to make sure we could get it set up the day we moved in.


Well there weren’t any appointments for that day, and the soonest one was for Sunday, August 24th.


“Crap.” I thought, “But no big deal! We can wait three days. It’ll be tough, but we can handle it.”


I’ll try to avoid the narrative going forward. That little bit was just necessary because it is foreshadowing. OooOoOOoh!


Anxious to ensure this would all go according to plan, I called Saturday to confirm. The friendly robot machine told me that we had an appointment scheduled for the next day between 8am and 11pm, and to remember that someone 18 with a valid ID had to be on the premises.  Well that’s goo…. WHAA?!?!


The cost of admission for internet is being sequestered in the house for 15 HOURS?! That seemed a bit outrageous to me, and I was starting to feel a little indignant, but my roommate assured me that he would be there all day Sunday and it was no big deal. Sure, no big deal! Paying a monstrous conglomerate money to dictate our schedule and demand that we sit at home for 15 hours in order for the privilege to pay them for a service they offer. No biggie!


But he was unperturbed so I acquiesced. I work most of the day on Sunday so it was a non-issue for me. But it quickly became an issue for me when no one had showed up around noon. Now I know the time frame was until 11pm, but you know, I just thought I’d check. So I give a little jingle to the robot line and lo and behold! My account cannot be found. What ho? What ho, indeed.


I finally enacted the necessary prestidigitation on the telephonic keypad to speak to a human being, and was summarily informed that my order for internet had never been submitted. Confused, betrayed, and dismayed I stumbled through my consternation quickly and cheerily asked that it be submitted forthwith, determined to keep a good attitude and not ruin the poor man’s day on the other end of the phone just because I had been inconvenienced and a mistake that had been made by another representative of the company he worked for.  


He immediately launched into a somewhat-well-rehearsed-and-nearly-well-delivered sales pitch in which he gave me PATENTLY WRONG information in order to get me to upgrade to the next tier of internet speed. I politely declined seeing as how I feel like paying $10 a month for the use of a wireless router, particularly when one of superior performance can be purchased for less than $20, is nothing short of highway robbery, and anyone involved in setting these prices and policies should hang their heads in abject shame and be forced to perform self-flagellation. This is just the writer’s humble opinion. And a hard-boiled fact.


I then asked the gentleman if he could offer me the same deal I was previously proffered and give me the price I was previously quoted which was $5 a month less. He informed me, in not so many words, that this was an online only price and that it would be more likely and possible to change the schedule of the tides, and realign the very heavens themselves than it would be possible for him to give me this ludicrous price for a service that costs fractions of a cent on the dollar for what we North American citizens pay for it.


I was then informed, in EXACT words, that the time we had spent on the phone, which had been considerable due to setting up the account and all of the sales-pitching, was a ‘waste of both of our time.’ And that I would have to sign up on the website. So that is precisely what I did. We were given an appointment for the very next day! I was feeling good.


The following day (Monday the 25th) I called again to confirm. Once again the appointment was from 8am to 11pm, so a WHOLE LOT of room for error.  I decided to run the crucible of getting a human on the line again to confirm. This was around 8pm when I thought the likelihood of actually rectifying a screw up was at least not -1000%.


I was then graciously informed by this “customer service” representative, that our service was already taken care of! It hadn’t been turned on today because of a scheduling conflict, but all I had to do was drive to the Time Warner store and pick up my equipment and we would be all set! Glorious day! He said a technician would pop by the next day, between 8am and 11pm to activate the service, and for these all day appointments, they are just activations and no one needs to be onsite! Easy!


Here is where every logical brain is thinking, wait…


I know, right?! I was SPECIFICALLY TOLD that a person over 18 with an ID had to be present. Not once, but twice. I was given this information by the automated robotic machine woman who answers the phone and is programmed to make you never talk to a human so the fat cat executives can get bigger bonuses. Empirical fact.


You can start to appreciate my gregarious and generous nature now. Because at this point, I still had not become angry with a single representative. Instead, I decided my only option is to handle this like a mature adult, and say thank you to everyone and grab my stuff the next day and call it a day.


So I did.  I said thank you to the earnest young man trying to do his job and went the next day and grabbed the equipment. I hooked it up in anticipation, and…. bupkis.  Nothing. Surely this is just a mistake. Maybe the technician hasn’t made it out, yet! That must be the explanation.


So, I get on the phone. Again. For the fifth time. I was picking up the phone for the fifth time to ask for the permission to pay someone to give me the service they purportedly provide.


Now this time, I was told that the technician had come out, but that there had never been cable at this location and that they would have to return the following Thursday the 28th between 10am and 11am. Which would be great, were it not four days after we were originally supposed to initially get service, and IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WORKDAY! If this appointment weren’t arbitrarily made without consulting either myself or my roommate, it wouldn’t have been so bad. But it WAS arbitrarily made made without con… okay, you get it.


Well, as for me, I was leaving for a week-long trip on Thursday, and my roommate has a normal human job where he works normal human hours, for example: through the 10am hour, and beyond. So the appointment was rescheduled for 6-7pm of the same day. Well, that his that, right?


Think again, sunshine. There is more. So the technician showed up, and said that the order was filled out incorrectly and that he didn’t have what he needed to complete the installation. The order had been submitted as “adding an additional jack” when it should have been a full installation. I point this out, because the distinction will be important later.


So the order for installation had to be re-re-re-(insert necessary needed number of re’s here) scheduled.


And it was set for the following Thursday. From 10am - 2pm. Do you see a strange and disturbing pattern here? I do. I DO! So, from my vacation in a different state I had to call and get as angry as I get with customer service representatives, which is not all that angry, but I felt like a heel. Because to be honest, by this point I was already furious. The normally uncannily unflappable me had been driven to fury.


In the course of the conversation with the “supervisor” I asked if an appointment could be rescheduled in order to give me a sooner appointment since my appointment had been rescheduled multiple times without ever consulting me, or notifying me in any way, and no person would be at the house early Thursday afternoon. But of course, it was impossible. There was no possible way in this universe to get a technician out to my house to install my internet sooner than 11 days after it was originally scheduled. The solution that I got was to move it back another day. Soonest possible. No other options. None.


I had another concern, and that was that I had already paid for a whole month of service and I had not yet received any service. And my installation date was a full two weeks after the supposed start date, so paying for an entire month would be unfair and inappropriate. The “supervisor” agreed and said that all I had to do was to call back when service was instituted and tell them so they could credit me for the time I didn’t have service.


Now, let’s take a moment to appreciate this irony. The people who are able to monitor my service and know what the status of said service is need me to call them to know when my service is active so that I wouldn’t have to pay them for the time that I had nothing but headaches and repetitive calls to them to beg for the service I HAD ALREADY PAID FOR!


I asked the “supervisor” where I could make my frustration known and where to file a complaint. He referred me to the website. Do you see what he did there? Go to the website, he said. That’s rich. That is so rich. Because I have no internet, you see. See how it's funny? 


So that was that. I had to call back. And the appointment was scheduled later for the next day from 6-7pm. I happened to be there for this appointment after my trip. Not because I was home by Friday between 6 and 7 , but because the technician showed up at 8:45pm. I was honestly just pleasantly surprised that he showed up.


And the order was submitted wrong. It was submitted as an internet repair rather that a full installation. The order was submitted wrong, again. The tech looked panicked and I just reconciled myself to the fact right then and there that I would end this day disappointed. To give credit to the first Time Warner employee who seemed to take any kind of interest in actually providing us service in this whole process, the technician actually tried everything that he could in order to get our service set up.


I know what you are thinking, but guess what? You are exactly correct. It didn’t happen. I set you up a bit there thinking that maybe something might go differently and work out well. You know, the way it is designed to work? But it didn’t. Despite the technician using my lantern and working in the dark, he wasn’t able to get cable to our house since no cable was run to the address and the technician wasn’t aware or prepared.


Now here is an interesting fact about this particular scenario. I called the day before this appointment to make sure that this appointment was scheduled as a full install since we had missed getting internet installed because of an incorrectly set up appointment. I was assured, that yes; we were scheduled for a full installation. Not to worry.


So a few things at this point:

  1. At no point on multiple calls and lengthy conversations were any notes left on the account. Even when I called using VERY CLEAR language to communicate that I was extremely dissatisfied and upset.

  2. Aside from the wrote sounding scripted apologies of the “supervisor” I demanded to speak to out of frustration and anger, and the technician who seemed sincerely sorry to be standing face to face with an incredibly frustrated customer; I never got a single employee of the company I was paying for service who seemed in the least bit concerned with my plight.

  3. At this point in the process, I have spent a CRAP TON of hours simply trying to get internet at my house from a company who supposedly PROVIDES THIS AS A SERVICE!

The good guy technician actually called back the next day and showed up and finally got the internet hooked up. The modem would not activate at this point. Thanks to the technician going out of his way again and putting my roommate on three-way with his personal phone with tech support, it actually worked. So we finally had internet.


I know what you are thinking now.  “Why didn't you just go with someone else?” Yes I know even you, the Time Warner employee reading this letter is thinking that right now. I’ll tell you why. There is no other option for high speed internet at my new house. I am forced to use Time Warner Cable if I want high speed internet.  I would have chosen ANY OTHER company over Time Warner about halfway through this process. But I have no choice. I am stranded on a deserted island of no information connectivity and my only life raft is a leaky chum-covered barrel owned by a starving shark. Or something like that.  


Let me give you a little insight into how this process made me feel. Recently I was pulled over for speeding, and given a ticket by a Texas State Trooper. You can imagine I wasn’t too happy about this this, because it just sucks. But hey it was my fault, so I can’t be too upset. As this ticket was being administered, I began to notice that the trooper was giving me really great customer service. He informed me that his job was to keep people safe and that keeping people from speeding was one of the biggest parts of that. He even apologized for taking my time and told me he hoped the rest of my day was safe, and better.


I actually left the interaction feeling that the overall encounter was positive. The trooper was concerned for my safety, and apologized for inconveniencing me, and explained what was happening, why, and then delivered what he promised, in the time-frame he laid out. It wasn’t pleasant, but it also was not infuriating. Overall 7/10. Would get ticketed by this individual again.


In short, I am more likely to recommend getting pulled over by a Texas State Trooper and being given a ticket to my friends and family than I am to recommend Time Warner Cable for internet service. I don’t write letters about my experience with companies typically. But for this one I will write a letter and do everything in my power to share it with everyone I know. Thanks for a month long headache Time Warner. You suck.




David Marchbanks


P.S. As a follow-up to this letter, I did what the “supervisor” told me to do in order to submit my complaint about the experience we have had with Time Warner Cable so far. So I did! I’ll give you one guess as to what I found. I’ll let you see for yourself. Go to http://www.timewarnercable.com/en/residential.html and look for the submit a complaint, or contact us button. Still looking? Of course you are. because there isn’t one. So I requested a chat with someone, and being forced t choose a category that didn’t fit my problem, I chose billing.


I then started my chat with the billing representative, and explained that I simply wanted to submit an overall complaint based on my experience with the company. The response I got was: “I cannot access that information at this time.”  Huh? That doesn’t even make sense. So I asked for clarification. He explained that I would need to call the customer service line to get the information as to where I would need to send my complaint.


I explained to him that I was told to go the the website and that there was no link there. He told me that since he was with the billing department he couldn’t access customer service information, and that the customer service department was closed.


I wasn’t surprised, just further frustrated.


Then the following day I received my first bill. I was extremely pleased to see that there was a credit for nearly half of the first month’s bill, even though I had forgotten to call and let them know when our service had started. So that was the first pleasant surprise I had gotten in this process. So, yay!


But, lo! sadly there was another unforeseen element of the bill. There was a $29.99 charge for delivery of the quick start kit. You know the equipment that I had to go and pick up. Unless Time Warner is secretly subsidizing my fuel and time costs somehow, I am very confused!


So I called. Again. Can we count how many times I have called? Do we need to? Do we all recognize the ridiculousness of it yet? So I communicated my concern to the representative. He explained that this was an installation fee. Then why is it labelled a delivery fee? Easy! He clarified by saying that this service normally  costs $49.99 but they billed it to me as a delivery “as a service” in order to save me $10. That’s great!


It is great except that they advertised the installation as $14.99 when I signed up for my service and NO ONE IN THIS PROCESS TOLD ME DIFFERENTLY! I am pretty over this at this point. I don’t know if I need to keep pointing out ironic and egregious ridiculousness, but there is more!  


So my next question for the lucky built-in buffer against the corporation getting any actual feedback or having any accountability to its customers due to actual interaction with them was;  where I could send a complaint. He told me to go to the website. Isn't this a neat system they have? No accountability at all!


So I explained that I had tried that and had no luck, so he said that he would be researching the issue and would get back to me. He did a wonderful job managing the hold times and informing me of what I should expect and what he was doing. After coming back and checking in with me twice and informing me that he was also unable to locate a place to submit a complaint on the website, he went back to other resources and eventually came back and gave me a physical address where I could mail my letter.

Here is yet another example of EXTREME AND INANE discrepancy in this ridiculous process. The communications conglomerate does not have an email or web form where I can submit this information. I have to mail a letter. Guess what my confidence level is that anyone will read this? Based on my experiences, it is about as likely as Tupac and Elvis both still being alive, hanging out in Branson, MS enjoying the hot springs.