Time Warner Cable Doesn’t Get It

February 17, 2009

After being generally unhappy with the billing and customer service of Time Warner Cable I finally canceled my account thinking that if I’m not their customer anymore they would cause me no further aggravation.  Right?  Wrong.  And they wonder why cable is one of the most disliked industries?

The billing errors continued… and get worse. First, it was a bill for several thousands of dollars because they hadn’t gotten around to taking my three cable boxes off the bill.  That took a month to resolve, and I guess they expected me to pay the disputed thousands until they credited it.  When I finally get a corrected bill I tried to follow the instructions in their email… “Click here http://www.TimeWarnerLA.com/PayXpress to view and pay your bill. ” but then THAT didn’t work either.  Why?  Because my account was “closed”.  Well then why did you SEND that to me? 

Frustrated, I wanted to communicate my experience to someone capable of understanding, and actually addressing, my concerns.  Surely SOMEONE at a big media corporation would want to know how much of what they tell people to do doesn’t even work and how frustrating the end user experience is.  You don’t get to talk to someone like that by calling 1-888-TW-CABLE and talking to someone in a phone room.  The only way I’ve found to get an issue escalated to an executive at most companies is through the Better Business Bureau, so I filed a complaint.

Instead of a response from Time Warner Cable apologizing for my experience and assuring me that these issues were being resolved I got a letter from a collection agency advising me that their collection was now on my credit report.  Really?  Yes really.  I explained that  I’d been billed a wrong amount, and that after I got that cleared up it wouldn’t let me pay on-line.  They advised me I could go to any of their offices to make a payment.  Uh huh, sure and they COULD come to my house and pick it up in bags of pennies too, that’s not the point.  The POINT is that I tried to follow their instructions, which didn’t work.  More importantly, I don’t WANT to “go to an office”.  I want to pay on-line like I always have.  What’s the great challenge to making that work?

Even after all this, I was certain that at some point I’d reach someone with a clue who’d resolve it.  After all, I wasn’t disputing the amount or asking for anything free.  I just wanted my concerns acknowledged and NOW I also needed the stupid collection item deleted.  I wasn’t even hoping for an apology… so I didn’t think it would be a tough sell.

Frank Eliason at Comcast has been participating on Twitter as @comcastcares to resolve just these kinds of issues before they become public and embarrassing.  Clearly they get it, and they’re at least making an effort.  I contacted Frank and he put me in touch with Jeff Simmermon at Time warner who was trying to replicate the success Comcast had on Twitter at Time Warner Cable.  Jeff (@JeffTWC on Twitter) is a  really nice guy, and he also seems to get “get” it, but is more on the PR side and far less empowered than his counterpart at Comcast.  He cc:d my issue to John Orzolick (“Customer Care Advocate”) and James Abbott (unknown role) at Time Warner Corporate.

John Orzolick, unfortunately, did not “get” it.  His position was that despite being billed the wrong amount, and despite being told in writing to pay online when I could not that I should have just ignored what they SAID and understood what they meant… and figured out another way to pay them.  What John Orzolick doesn’t seem to understand is that his attitude of punishing a customer who’s clearly trying to help them improve their processes doesn’t serve him, his company, or the customer.

Here’s what he SHOULD have said:  “I’m sorry about the billing errors and the problem paying on-line.  We’ll get that forwarded to the appropriate team to be addressed.  In the mean time we’ll get the collection retracted as clearly you were making a good faith effort to resolve this and we dropped the ball, we’ll close out your account with your payment unless there’s anything else we can do to win you back?”  Doesn’t that make more sense for everyone?

At this point, I’d rather spend 10X the money fighting this in court and in public than be penalized by corporate inefficiency and apathy.  It’s kind of fun for me to fight goliath.  I’m one of those guys that wants to “fix” things that are broken, and yes life would probably be easier if I just ignored them like everyone else.  But if there weren’t people like me, I wonder… would ANYTHING ever get fixed?

Update:  Added @AlexTWC (Alex Dudley, Vice President, Public Relations) to the mix.  Not optimistic.

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Why Does AT&T (Formerly “Cingular”) Suck So Much?

September 7, 2008

Today I was trying to help a friend move her lines to T-Mobile to take advantage of their Unlimited Family Plan – $149 for TWO unlimited lines.  Called T-Mobile to set it up – no problem.  Called to cancel her AT&T account, the largest cellular carrier in the land, and THEY were closed.  T-Mobile 24/7 and AT&T keeps bankers hours?

High Prices.  Scarce Service.  Lot’s of Attitude – that’s the “new” AT&T.  My iPhone is staying on T-Mobile!

Google Phone Coming To T-Mobile

August 28, 2008

I’m excoted about the new HTC Dream / “Google Phone” coming to T-Mobile.  It has more than one feature misisng in the iPhone:

* Keyboard *and* touch screen!

* MMS – aka “Picture Messages”

* UMA – the ability to make calls over wi-fi which is HUGE for poor signal areas and/or international use

* Cut & Paste – Just guessing on this one

Plus like the 3G iPhone it’s got 3G on T-Mos brand new (and likely significantly under used) 3G network and GPS.

Plus it’s ONLY $150 though the data plan looks like it’s gonna be higher, it’s still a deal.  I’m excited!

How To Get The Most Out Of Your iPhone on T-Mobile

August 8, 2008

I really like T-Mobile.  They’ve got competitive pricing, innovative features, and award wining tech support.  They’re not perfect, but for a cell carrier they’re close.  For 2G iPhone users, they’re the best choice.

1)  As of this writing, T-Zones works GREAT on the IPhone 2G (with 2.0 firmware).  It’s not illegal or a violation of T-Mobile policies – it’s perfectly legit.  It’s only $5.99 a month which is almost a $200 a year savings over their standard data plan.  I haven’t noticed it being any slower, in fact maybe even a little faster due to caching on their T-Zones proxy.  You will need the T-Zones “hack” from Installer or Cydia on your unlocked phone but don’t let that scare you… it’s not really a “hack” it just tells your iPhone to use the T-Zones proxy.

2)  You CAN get MMS!  Sort of.  If you have an older phone that doesn’t do MMS then when someone sends you a picture message you’d get a text message to view the pictures on a web site.  The problem is, once you’ve sent an MMS from your phone (ever) it then tells the system your phone is MMS capable so from then on it tries to send them to you.  So, if you’re using a T-Mobile SIM card that was ever used in an MMS capable phone you have to call in into tech support and have them reconfigure their MMS tool to put your account back to “legacy”.  From that point on you’ll get the links again.  How cool?

Remember Earthlink

July 28, 2008

Internet history is littered with woeful tales about consumers who were stranded when their internet provider tanked.  Earthlink is like the Titanic on its way down… and I want to again remind my friends that if you or a loved one is still using Earthlink to consider transferring your service NOW before it’s too late:

http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/Earthlink-Pins-Future-Hopes-OnDialUp-96493
There will very likely be a time when you’ll no longer be able to retrieve your email or even get on-line if you’re an Earthlink customer as they quickly approach insolvency.  Change providers while you still can!

Hacking GoDaddy

May 16, 2008

There IS a way of “hacking GoDaddy” to get their prices more in line with 1and1.com.

If you buy 5 or more domains you get free “privacy” (i.e. proxy registration) for the period of the order, so if you buy 5 domains for ten years each (the maximum) you get ten years of free privacy.  Use the codes GB1, GB2, or GB3 (I forget which does which) to get the $6.99 price which equals 1and1.com.  The PLUS side of GoDaddy is that 1and1.com won’t do a registration for more than year at a time, so if you want to lock in your domains you pretty much have to use GoDaddy.

Don’t need 5 domains? Add a $.99 .info domain to get your order bigger. Works great.

Why GoDaddy Sucks (and 1&1 sucks less)

April 1, 2008

I really dislike “GoDaddy“.  Their website is cluttered and tries to sell harder than a drive down the Las Vegas strip.  Their prices are deceptive, as is the domain industry in general, in that they mislead with discounts that don’t recur and charge for services like “private registration” that are free elsewhere.  It seems to me that 1&1 offers the best domain pricing at $6.99 with free “private registration”.  GoDaddy charges more than double at $19 bucks for the same service.  Oh and 1and1.com includes an IMAP account and a “start site” thats sucks but is semi-functional.  It’s just all around a better deal.  GoDaddy vs. 1&1?  Definitely 1&1. 

I’m using less power. Are you?

March 22, 2008

For about a year now I’ve been paying close attention to my electric bill consumption.  What I find fascinating is my power consumption compared to one year prior.  For many months I’ve actually been using less power than the year before even though I’m continually adding gadgets, lighting, and other electricity consuming products.  How can that be?

 

For most homes the single largest consumer of electricity is the refrigerator, so I replaced that with a new efficient model.  I also converted every light to compact florescent bulbs.  I got rid of old style CRT computer and television screens in favor of LCD.  I also replaced my window air conditioners (I live in an old building without central air).  All these changes have made a difference I can see. This makes me wonder how all these new technologies impact society as a whole.  We have more electronics, but we have more efficient electronics.   Do the gains in efficiency offset the addition of new gadgets?  Are you using less power too?

I was watching Jack Johnson – If I Had Eyes when I realized:

March 19, 2008

I thought Jack Johnson was still a “cult” band until I found out he had the number one CD in the country. Go Jack – you’re awesome!

Joost thumbnail

If I Had Eyes is taken Jack Johnson’s fouth album Sleep Through The Static and is a lilting, dreamy, summery acoustic rock song from Hawaii’s favourite son.

Staples Recycles!

March 19, 2008

I read today that Staples is recycling electronics which I think is just great.  My previous recycling consisted of dropping off stuff at a local Goodwill, and all too often I had to do it it when they were closed because I knew they wouldn’t take old or non-working electronics.  Here’s what Staples says:

“Staples makes it easy for customers to recycle e–waste by simply bringing their used computers, monitors, laptops, and desktop printers, faxes and all–in–ones to any U.S. Staples store.All brands are accepted, regardless of whether or not the equipment was purchased at Staples. A recycling fee of $10 per piece of large equipment is charged to cover handling, transport, product disassembly and recycling. Smaller computer peripherals such as keyboards, mice, and speakers are accepted at no charge.Equipment is bagged and sealed when received at the Staples customer service desk. The equipment is then picked up and delivered to our recycling provider Amandi Services, who uses industry–leading standards for data destruction and disassembles the equipment into its component parts for environmentally responsible recycling.”

Note that they do “data destruction” so you don’t necessarily have to (though it’s always a good idea).