Saturday, December 22, 2012

Time Warner Cable:
Customer Abuse In
Our World Of Biznizz Bozos

The one thing that defines the USA at this point in time is the rule of what I call The Bad Biznizz Bozos. Time Warner Cable is an excellent example. Bad Biznizz Bozos are fake 'capitalists' who have no concept of how real business is conducted. They are the prime reason that capitalism is increasingly ridiculed around the world. They abuse the game of finance and business services by turning it into an opportunity to gouge and damage others for the sake of the quick and easy buck. It's the same old story of: Short-term Thinking; Long-term Disaster. When companies, such as Time Warner, pull this juvenile, ignorant bullshit, they get what they deserve. In this case, Time Warner Cable deserves this article.

Enough of my analysis and opinion. Let's laugh at and enjoy the facts of my recent adventures with these FAILures of the bad biznizz world: Time Warner Cable.

I) The Case of the Degraded Signal

Early November 2012. The signal on my TV is severely degraded on every channel to the point of unwatchable. The signal on my Internet connection is equally degraded. I call Time Warner Cable to the rescue. They sent out a guy who checks out my TV, the wiring to it, the cabling to the house. But he says he can't check out the cabling inside the house and has no idea if it could be responsible. He also 'says' he has no knowledge or ability to check the Internet signal. I am told to call TWC back again and ask for an Internet tech to come out and check the lines, again.

I call TWC, again, and am told that the technician WAS entirely qualified to check out the wiring in the house AND the Internet signal problems. They asked me why he had not done so! They set up a time for another technician to come out to the house and check out the problem.

The second technician never showed.

By this point I was off to spend a week with the parents celebrating Thanksgiving and helping with chore requests.

When I returned, everything was now working. I received no feedback of any kind from TWC. I dropped the issue.

II) The Case of the Intermittent Signal Dropout

Early December, 2012. Over the course of an hour, the cable signal to my TV was dropping out to a blank screen, on every channel, intermittently. This was occurring often several times a minute. The Internet connection was equally chaotic.

I call TWC. Their technical line is sending a busy signal. This continued for half-an-hour. I call the TWC executive office to complain and ask for someone to please help. They connected me to a man to whom I explained the situation. I pointed out that I had a somewhat similar situation a few weeks previous to this incident and told him that the second technician had never showed up and that I had received no feedback at all about the solution of that problem.

The guy on the phone told me that he had no record of TWC having any appointment to return to my house to repair the signal problem. I pointed out that he was incorrect. He then proceeded to ignore the current problem and instead obsessed over his information regarding the previous issue, making me out to be a liar. I asked him if the point of his obsessing over this second appointment was to pick a fight, as I was getting nowhere with him attempting to get help for the current issue. He said he was going to escalate the issue to a higher technician, to which I replied 'Yes you will'.

Instead of being sent to an actual technician, the rude guy had dumped me at the front line of TWC's call queue in India. He had been told nothing about the situation and I had to start from scratch explaining the problem. This is a sign of very poor customer service, one which I expect we have all experienced. The front line Indian said he would connect me with a technician, but after waiting several minutes for him to connect me, he managed to hang up on me. Again, déja vu much folks?

I then tried for the next hour to get anyone on the line at Time Warner through any number at any office and failed. The tech phone line still sent out a busy signal. The executive office phone line, at 1:20 pm in the afternoon, was foisting a recording that their offices were closed. There was literally no ability to contact Time Warner Cable at all.

Inconceivable? Not with Bad Biznizz Bozos! This is status quo for bad biznizz. But I digress...

I returned to my TV to find the intermittent signal drop out had stopped. I dropped the issue.

III) The Case of the Cheapass Landlord and the New Internet Account Connection

Mid-December 2012. My new cheap-ass landlord had decided to cut off our included-in-the-rent Internet service at the end of the month. I jumped on the situation and made an appointment to have TWC set up my new connection.

TWC, in their endless pursuit of parasitizing money out of their victim customers, had decided to start charging rent for their cruddy old, inefficient Motorola SurfBoard modems. I'd been considering replacing my own old Apple Base Station Extreme and decided to get an all-in-one cable modem and router, top of the line, from Motorola. I verified with TWC, both on the Internet and by phone (the line not sending a busy signal that day) that this was exactly the modem the advised I buy to work with their service. I saved $25 by not getting it from the local Best Buy. Amazon got it to me with its usual expediency. As usual, I RTFM to be understand how it worked and how to set it up. I'm techy that way.

The day of the account installation, I received a call about two hours earlier than the TWC technician's appointment. They were on the road and had time to set up my account at that time, if that was acceptable to me. I said sure! They arrived twenty minutes later. They were an affable couple of guys and I enjoyed their banter while I watched them set up my new cable modem.

However, I found that no one involved with the installation, neither the technicians at my house nor the technicians over at the server side of TWC, knew how to set up the cable modem they had TOLD me to buy. They were ALL entirely unable to perform the job. I listened while the techs at my house attempted to get the techs at TWC to figure it out. This took a full twenty minutes. Throughout this waiting period, the techs at my house kept repeating 'The modem isn't in Y mode' over and over. Apparently that was the mode, detectable from the lights on the front of the modem, that showed the modem was actually connected to the TWC servers and working properly.

Eventually, the floundering ended and I could see from the lights on the modem that there was a signal. The techs at my house then asked if I had a computer to use to test the connection. I grabbed my MacBook and the tech took it from me, attempting to find the modem over Wi-Fi. He had no idea what the default name of the modem would be and guessed his way through the process, FAILing.

At that point he gave up and the other technician asked me to sign the paperwork. They wanted to leave. They wanted to leave me with NO service. Their explanation was that they had never worked with that modem before. They didn't know what to do.

I pointed out to the techs that this was the modem I was TOLD to buy. I pointed out that if they didn't know how to install this modem, then this was when they contacted their boss at TWC and requested training. I pointed out that their tech service to me was not complete until they had me connected to the Internet service at TWC.

At this point the techs became aggressive and loud, lying to me that they did not have to connect my computer to their Internet service as part of their jobs. This was despite the fact that this was precisely what they had been attempting to do before they gave up.

I pointed out that they were being aggressive and loud and that it made no difference to me. I pointed out that they were not leaving and that I was not signing anything until they had completed their job.

Having RTFM, I took my MacBook from the floundering tech and decided to crank up Motorola's 'Wizard' for connecting Macs to their modem. It's a very flaky program, but it cooperated. It found the modem signal. It asked for the ID number of the modem. One of the techs found it on the installation leaflet I handily had with me. He read me the characters. It asked me for the default WPA2 password. The tech read it to me from the leaflet. In the course of two minutes, I had sorted out how to perform the installation they refused to do.

At this point the techs became irate and stormed out of the house. I signed nothing. They managed to leave behind the old modem from my cheapass landlord's TWC account. They were gone.

Support at TWC told me they were also supposed to have handed me a receipt for the modem they had brought with them and took away with them. The follow-up questionnaire robo-call I received also told me they were supposed to have handed me a sheet explaining the service. And they were supposed to have explained the service to me and asked if I had any questions. Needless to say, I gave them a FAILing grade on all the robo-call questions. I then left a recorded comment pointing out that it is 'ridiculous' to have to convince technicians to do their job.

I also called up the executive office at TWC and was handed to a very nice and concerned woman who took down notes about the situation and promised to call the chief technician for cable installations and have him call me back within two business days. She kindly gave me her extension number to call in case there were further concerns. She was terrific.

Unfortunately, two and a half days later, no one from TWC has called me.

Time Warner Cable, as a company, doesn't give a rat's ass about their customers. They just want to do minimal work for the maximum buck.

I'll be calling the executive office again next business day. I'll be asking for a free month's service as compensation for all of the above customer abuse. I'll be escalating my call as high as I can go in their management hierarchy with the full expectation that they'll find a way to hang up on me, again.

IV) The Return of TWC Metered Internet Price Gouging

A few years back, in 2009, TWC pulled some nasty tricks down in Texas in a community where TWC was the only option for Internet, apart from the usual meagre dial-in services. They perpetrated a system in that community whereby the Internet was metered on everyone's account. Once a customer hit their meter limit, they were charged an additional $1.00 per GB for data download. For someone watching a 4 GB movie over the Internet, this resulting in PRICE DOUBLING as a penalty for watching that movie. For example, they'd pay the Apple iTunes store $3.99 to stream a movie while TWC charged them $4.00 for the bandwidth required to watch that movie.

Meanwhile, it was calculated that each 1 GB for bandwidth actually costs TWC a total of 10¢. Therefore, TWC is perpetrating a bandwidth markup of 10x. IOW: A 1000% markup. That's severe price gouging. That's blatant customer abuse. It's what monopolies pull because their customers have no recourse.

Here's a 2008 article from predicting the FAIL of TWC's scam plan:

Thousands of us on the Internet protested to TWC about this practice. It was stopped in order to end the severely bad press TWC was receiving. But it didn't stop TWC from trying again. Early in 2010 they attempted EXACTLY the same thing in Rochester, New York. Again, we of the Internet cognoscenti protested and embarrassed TWC into relenting.

Now its back, yet again. This time TWC are pulling new sucker trickery by calling this price gouging a service to those customers who only wish to access the Internet for minimal amounts of time, requiring minimal bandwidth. Sucker customers are offered a discount on their monthly bill if they accept an alternative service plan whereby their Internet usage is metered. And, as with the previous two attempts at customer price gouging, once the victim customer goes over their metered limit, they pay $1.00 per used GB of downloaded data. It's the same 1000% mark up. Are you interested in such a plan? It depends upon the bandwidth boundaries set by TWC. So let's see what they are!

Here's an article from covering the new TWC price gouging trickery:

Time Warner Cable Expands Metered Billing Efforts
Dubious Value Option Expands in Texas
After Time Warner Cable took a public relations beating for pushing low caps and high per byte overages on consumers back in 2009, the company has been stepping very carefully in what is quite obviously their relentless desire to charge consumers broadband overages. Early this year their metered billing option returned to a few tiny markets as a voluntary option named "Internet Essentials".

The company promises users a $5 discount off their bill if they sign up for the plan, which features a 5 GB cap and $1 per gigabyte overages. Granted if you actually use your connection for anything more than checking the weather a few times a week, that "discount" evaporates immediately. Seeing the value yet? Yeah, us neither.

. . .

It's Time Warner Cable that wants the shift. Flat rate pricing doesn't fit Time Warner Cable's agenda because the company simply wants to charge more for data. As we've long noted, the goal isn't value or flexibility for consumers, it's to constrict the bandwidth pipe and impose new tolls to offset the inevitable impact Internet video will have on TV revenues. They tried to force it, now they're trying to soft sell it.

Customers remain fortunate that the option is voluntary -- for now.
"For now" this TWC sucker trickery is being pulled in Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Waco, Temple, Killeen, Kerrville and the Golden Triangle, Texas. 
Time Warner Cable's Gordon Harp, Regional Vice President of Operations in Texas in a press statement, adding that the new tier is designed "to meet the needs of consumers who want more price flexibility."
Right. Because TWC cares so much about its customers and their needs. They certainly proved that to me! /sarcasm

Time Warner Cable is a poster child for what I call BAD BIZNIZZ.



Apparently TWC has pulled their page about the Essentials Internet Plans, referenced in the article by I hope it wasn't something I said. ;-)

Here is the text of TWC's original Essentials Internet Plans page, formerly located at:

Essentials Internet Plans
posted by Time Warner Cable on February 27, 2012

Time Warner Cable is always looking for ways to meet the changing needs of consumers. It’s clear that one-size-fits-all pricing is not working for many consumers, particularly in a challenging economy. As we’ve done on the video product with our scaled-down TV Essentials service, we will now be offering a scaled-down Internet service – Essentials – to meet the needs of consumers who want more price flexibility on critical household services, while preserving unlimited plans for customers who want them.

We believe this strategy will make our Internet service more useful and desirable for consumers and will be a key to fueling growth in the competitive ISP marketplace.
Right now, many of our customers actually use very little broadband capacity. Our tiered Internet service plan, called Value Edition, will allow users who don’t need our unlimited plan to opt-in to a plan that more closely meets their needs.

Previous Experience with Usage-based Pricing

Time Warner Cable began testing usage-based pricing in 2009. Although many customers were interested in the plan, many others were not and we decided to not proceed with implementation of the plan. Over the past few years, we consulted with our customers and other interested parties to ensure that community needs are being met and in late 2011 we began testing meters which will calculate Internet usage.

Usage Meter and Customer Dashboard

The new Internet usage meter is a way for customers to monitor their online activity. Customers should log in to their account through Time Warner Cable’s website to view their personal dashboard and Internet usage meter

All Internet customers will have access to the dashboard tools. These tools will summarize a customers Internet connection, Mobile Internet usage and overall monthly Internet usage. 


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