April 18, 2008

Galactically Awful Customer Service

Dear Time Warner Cable:

I discovered in the evening hours of Thursday, April 17, 2008 that my high-speed internet connection, for which I pay you a handsome monthly fee, was not working. It did not work on my computer; it did not work on my wife's computer. It had worked just fine earlier that morning.

The high-speed internet connection is the only service that I subscribe to or desire from Time Warner Cable.

Before calling, I unplugged the cable modem and unplugged the cable router. Both went through their reboot cycles and their indicator lights indicated that they were fully operative.

Also before calling, I verified that the wireless modem in the laptop computers in question were operative, repaired the wireless connections, rebooted the comptuers, ran diagnostics on the modem cards, verified that TCP/IP and DNS addresses and WINS configuerations were all properly set to automatically configure with the wireless network. I also unplugged the wireless router and ran the modem cable directly into my CAT-5 jack, and again was unable to obtain a strong enough internet connection to so much as read my e-mail. At this point, I determined that I had reached the boundaries of my obviously limited technical knowledge, and that I would need assistance from your service center.

My first call for technical support consisted of forty-five minutes of hold time, then about half an hour with a technical service representative who could not solve my problem, and then about fifteen minutes with an ‘escalated’ representative, from whom I was disconnected. In that time, both of these very courteous and friendly young men were able to independently determine that my modem and router worked fine and had strong, viable signals.

I was disconnected from this call, however, because the second representative advised me to again unplug the cable modem. I advised him that I was speaking on a cordless phone hooked up to a Vonage connection, and that this was likely to disconnect our phone call. I also suggested that the fact that I was able to speak with him at all over a Vonage connection was indicative that there was no problem getting the connection to the modem, and thus that the problem was somewhere else. However, the unplugging and restarting of the cable modem was on his script for technical support, and he apparently could not proceed until I had done this again. Thus, at his request, I terminated our telephone call.

My second call for technical support was placed immediately thereafter. After another forty-five minutes, the battery on my cordless phone ran out. At this time, it was eleven o’clock at night. I did not get to speak to any representative on that call, and got a few hours’ sleep while my phone recharged.

My third call for technical support – which is still in progress – began at six-thirty this morning. It is half an hour until noon as I write. In the five hours I have been on hold, I have taken my laptop computer to my office and determined that it works just fine on that wireless network. gone to my been able to complete all of my morning routines, gather my laptop computer, and take it to my office, which also has a wireless network. Here, I have determined that my computer is able to connect with the wireless network here. This rather definitively proves that the problem is not with my computer.

So my modem works, my router works, and my computer works. But somehow they’re not speaking to one another. More importantly, though, is the fact that I have been old hold waiting to talk to another Time Warner technical support representative nice six-thirty this morning. As I write, it is now eleven-thirty and I have been on hold for five continuous hours. I have given up and I will not be calling back.

I understand if more than one person is calling for support at a time. I do not expect that I will always immediately get to talk to someone when I call -- that level of expectation has been beat out of me long, long ago by major airlines and online retailers.

Please understand also that I want good customer service from Time Warner not because I believe it is a human right or because of some sort of abstract sense of entitlement. I want good customer service for the excellent reason that I am paying for it. In recent months, I have received astronomically better customer service at the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Post Office, and the Internal Revenue Service than Time Warner has given me in the past twenty-four hours. These governmental institutions have figured out how to get their jobs done with efficiency and courtesy to their customers; however, Time Warner, a for-profit business, should hang its head in shame based on what I have gone through today.

Time Warner Cable’s customer service system is demonstrably an abject failure. My satisfaction level with Time Warner Cable is presently somewhere between “enraged” and “horrified.”


Becky said...

It's working for the time being. I'm at home writing this... so hopefully it stays fixed.

bobvis said...

TL, this sort of thing is why I have become less anti-government and more anti-power recently. "The Department of Motor Vehicles, the Post Office, and the Internal Revenue Service" are actually Time Warner's peers. All of them are historical monopolies. Time Warner has only just recently faced competition with in the still-relatively nascent broadband business. The company for decades before that though consisted of sitting in a big office and collecting money that people sent in every month if people wanted to watch TV--not unlike the IRS.

(And really, what is their competition in broadband? Answer: another historical monopoly: the telephone companies.)