I’ve been without cable/satellite for about five months. With Hulu/Netflix/Amazon Prime/Crackle I didn’t miss it at all, but since I still have a gig as a football writer, I needed to get some kind of television for the NFL/college football season.
I have two options, basically, Time Warner Cable or DirecTV. I loved having DirecTV, never had any problems with the service (or customer service), but it requires a two-year contract, and I would prefer to be able to turn it back off again after football season. So that meant even though it’s a bit more expensive, I went with Time Warner Cable.
Monday afternoon, I talked online with a TWC rep and got their best offer. I told them if I got the service, I’d take the option to install the equipment myself (for free, as opposed to the $39 install charge), which they said was fine. I told them I was going to compare that to some other offers and get back to them. The rep said okay, she’d put this offer in my file and it would be there if I came back for it.
Monday night, I get a call from TWC to confirm my appointment for Tuesday afternoon for installation. Which I never signed up for. Or wanted. Or would have accepted, even if I had agreed to get cable.
I told them no, then held on the line to speak to an actual person. I explained the problem, she apologized profusely and told me she’d take care of it.
Monday night again, I get a second call from TWC asking me to take a survey on my recent interactions. Oh, you betcha, Time Warner Cable.
Tuesday afternoon, I get a call from TWC, from a guy with a connection so bad, it sounds like he’s calling me from a pay phone in 1977. He wants to know about the survey, and what they did wrong. I politely tell him, and he again apologizes profusely. He tells me there’s another package I could sign up for that might be cheaper. I can’t really make out what he’s saying, because it sounds like he’s on a party line phone in Warsaw, and he’s mumbling like Mitch Hedberg after a bender. I tell him I’m busy, but I’d love to hear about this plan later on a better connection. I tell him to call me Wednesday morning and I’ll listen, and he agrees.
Spoiler Alert: I never hear from him again.
Then, Tuesday afternoon about two hours after the previous contact I get another phone call. Yep, from Time Warner. At this point, Time Warner would make up most of my Friends and Family plan. It’s another rep, wanting to ask me about my service. I was honest with her, and she apologized profusely, which is apparently a freshman level class at TWC-School. She says they’re sorry for the miscommunication(s) and it won’t happen again.
Wednesday night, I decide to go with TWC anyway, since even though they’ve already shown themselves to be bafflingly incompetent at listening to me, there’s no long-term contract. What the Hell, I say. At least if they suck, I can cancel. And at this point, there’s not more than a 40% chance of that.
I go online again, chat with a representative, and get set up. I set up my cable package, featuring 200 quality channels! Except that at least 180 of them are not of any quality whatsoever and will never be watched, so they might as well be showing Who’s The Boss reruns all day. I get a price that’s ridiculous but cancelable after football, and tell them I want to do my own installation again. The rep double-checks everything with me, I ask a million questions to make sure there’s nothing I’m forgetting, and I’m signed on. I ask the rep for the closest office to pick up the equipment on Thursday, she looks it up and tells me everything I need to get hooked up, and I’m on my way to being a cable subscriber again.
And then, Thursday morning at 7:45am, I get a call from a Time Warner installer to confirm my appointment to have cable installed. Again.
To begin with, what the Hell is wrong with a company that offers phone service, but every time you talk to them their phone lines sound like you’re calling an underground bunker somewhere? If I got a phone call from Hell, I feel pretty sure there would be a better connection there, and the person on the other end of the line boiling in a lake of fire would at least be enunciating better than TWC’s reps.
After making the guy repeat his orders four times to make sure I understood him, I tell him in no uncertain terms that I don’t want him to come over. I don’t want him to install cable. I don’t want him to bring me coffee. I don’t want him to stand at the foot of my driveway with a jambox playing “In Your Eyes.” I just want him to stay the &%$# away from me before I wake up with him at the end of my bed, sharpening a knife and asking me “Is it safe?”
We hang up. Twenty minutes later, I get yet another (another) call from TWC to ask why I didn’t want the service call. Well, because I never wanted it, TWC. You’re getting kind of date-rapey on me. I feel like Time Warner Cable is just driving past my house all night, listening to “Goodbye Horses” and waiting for a chance to toss me into the pit TWC keeps in its basement.
At this point, Time Warner Cable has tried to send more strange guys over to my house than Craigslist. I just want football, TWC. Not a soulmate.
Time Warner Cable won’t be ignored, Reid. I’m headed off to make sure my bunny is still okay.
Against my better judgment, I went by Time Warner Cable and got the cable box to hook it up myself, only to find that their crack tech staff couldn’t activate it. The tech help was as clueless as a caveman, at one point telling me that my TV was on the wrong input, even though I was seeing the Time Warner Cable screen, just no programming. She tried to fix it, asked me to do things that my cable box wasn’t apparently capable of doing, and then right at 5:00pm, told me that I’d have to take my cable box back to the TWC office and get a new one, which is now impossible because everything closes at five. Whoops! Imagine that.
Continue the apologizing profusely.
Then TWC called me back with yet another automated phone call to ask my opinion on their service. I rated them somewhere between Hiroshima and a swift kick in the crotch.
The next day I returned and got another box, and another round of apologizing profusely. Hooked it up, and it doesn’t work either. After TWC’s reps were clueless again, I figured out that my house’s cable wiring may not actually be hooked up, which is something that neither of the two TWC tech help people could tell, despite their ability to look right into my cable box to tell if I ordered a PPV of “Emmanuelle Gives A Handy.”
So I waited, mostly patiently, for Monday to come. All I wanted to do was watch a football game, and now, I just want to throw my TV out the window.
Sunday, I get two more calls from TWC, and I realize I have spoken to Time Warner Cable more in the last week than I have any of my family members in the last year.
Monday morning, they call yet again, and a rep wants to confirm that I have an appointment with them today to have my internet installed.
No, Chester. I already have internet with you, and have had so for about two years. Please don’t install more internet on top of that.
He’s confused, and has to ask me again what I’m installing, what problems I’m having, which service it involves, where I live, what my favorite Rocky movie is, if I think Ryan Reynolds is a good actor, and all sorts of other things vital to my account. He finally confirms that yes, the thing I confirmed three times already is indeed confirmed.
And so Monday at one, they call again to verify that I am there, and I do indeed exist. I confirm, and we’re ready!
For what, I have no idea. I’ve spent a week trying to get a major cable company to hook up cable at my house. I’m the one trying (desperately) to get service from TWC, patiently answering the phones as they ring over and over again with stuff I didn’t ask for, and correcting them politely every time, and filling out their phone surveys time and again to try and get them to improve their business so they don’t show up at my house to try and hook up a landline, or a cuisinart, or track lighting, or a telegram outpost, or whatever. It’s my time they’re wasting, and I’ve taken it because I still desperately need football.
I realize that if I had another option that wouldn’t make me sign a two-year contract, I’d take it. It eventually dawns on me that cable companies gain their power Walmart style, by being the only available option. It’s a good racket, I guess, so now I get to see whether or not TWC can actually do this without pissing me off so badly I just throw them out, and go without.
Finally, TWC sends a guy out somewhere close to the time they were supposed to, switched the wires, sent the tone, and everything was fine. I had TWC for about a week before the sound on my cable box disappeared.
Yep, just vanished.
Picture was fine, but no sound. I call TWC, they tell me it’ll be fixed soon and they’ll call when it is. Late that afternoon, I get an automated call from Time Warner Cable that tells me that the service problem in my area is fixed!
Except it isn’t. Still no sound. I called TWC after that for help. They tried to reset my box twice. Then unplugged it. Then called in a faith healer. Then they told me it’s not working, and they don’t know what’s wrong with it, so I’ll need to take it down to the service center and get another one. That will make my third trip to the TWC Service Center in less than two weeks. I’m thinking of moving my bank and laundry to something in that area, since it looks like I’ll be going there more than to my mailbox.
The TWC rep does tell me if I’d like, I can plug my cable straight into my TV to watch basic channels, although they’re certainly not going to stop charging me for the channels that are now silent. She also says if I leave my TV alone for a half hour or so, the sound might come back on.
Amazingly, ignoring it and hoping it comes around like some kind of wayward child does nothing to make it work.
Time Warner Cable, I really tried. I’ve patiently answered your phone calls, I went to your service centers three times to pick up three different models of cable box and remotes, and I’ve tried hard not to throw your crappy equipment in the river. I did everything I could to give you my business, and you just kept redoubling your efforts to lose it. Well done, corporate monolith.
Two weeks after getting my service turned on, I went back to DirecTV.