Aug 16, 2008

Preparing to fight Time Warner Cable

I have always appreciated our cable company, Time Warner. Here in the greater Cincinnati area we have always had the BEST cable service. We've been subscribers for 20 years, and happy with TW for 19.7 of those years. I can't think of 5 times in all those years our cable has been "out", and if I have had to call the service department for one reason or another, they have always come out promptly and on time -- unlike some of the horror stories you hear of people waiting for days for the cable company to show up. When TW approached us about six months ago to sign a two year contract with them to lock in the current price we pay, I thought it was a great idea. Cable rates, like everything else, go up consistently, and this would be a way to lock in our current rate. Before I go on with my story, do you know you can negotiate with your cable company? Every year our cable bill goes up, and every year my husband calls TW and asks them if they can do better on the rate, and every year we finagle a deal and save money on the monthly bill. Right now we're saving about $50 a month over what their standard billing is for the services we have! Back to my tale of woe. So we get the contract in (yes, I read it), sign it, send it back to them. Poof. We're all kinds of happy because we've locked into a good rate with a cable company we are extremely pleased with. Then everything goes crazy. Time Warner completely changes their service -- their program guide, their DVR supplier, even their remote controls. And it is A W F U L! We lost many services that we thought were standard -- being able to fast forward in 15 minute increments on recorded shows, being able to search the TV Guide by Keywords (ie, "quilts") to find shows to record, being able to set up a show to record weeks and even months in advance, being able to "prioritize" shows so if you have your DVR to record more than two shows at a time, you can tell it which is most important, so you don't record a silly Japanese game show instead of the last show of a cliff-hanger series you've been watching. It's all gone. Now we have a DVR service that hates us. It's completely non-user friendly, it hiccups and burps when you're trying to watch a recorded show. If I don't check the shows to be recorded every day, it will record shows I don't care so much about instead of the ones I do (not great for vacation), if you're watching a show you recorded it will suddenly jump to the end of the recording and won't let you watch the last 30 minutes of a show.... and more more more more. I can't tell you how frustrating this is! Last night Jeff and I wanted to watch Thursday night's Olympics. First, the DVR froze and had to be rebooted, which now takes a full 15 minutes instead of the old 2-3 minutes. When we finally got the DVR unfrozen, the show we wanted to fast forward through (the purpose of DVR's, afterall, is to skip through all those commercials!), and it wouldn't let us fast forward. So we sat through two hours of volley ball and beach volley ball (ugh) to finally get to the gymnastics we wanted to watch -- and the DVR jumped to the end of the recording and wouldn't let us watch it! Now there's 90 minutes of my life I'll never get back! So here I am, tied to a two year contract (with grave monetary penalties if you don't stay subscribed for the entire two years) for a service that I dislike, paying the same amount of money each month for a lot less quality and less services than I had just a few months ago! I'm not one to sit back and be taken advantage of, and I feel strongly that's just what Time Warner has done. (wiggling eyebrows) I have a plan of attack: First, I'm calling TW on Monday and explaining all the problems we're having, and give them a chance to fix it. They should at least be able to fix all the burping and jumping and blank recorded shows. Next, I'm getting the name of someone - someone big - at TW that I can write to. And I'm going to write and let them know just how unhappy I am and that I want OUT of this contract. I firmly believe they sold the contract as one thing (a way to avoid the increase in cable rates for two years), and gave me something else (locked me into a service that is poor quality with less services). That's not right, and I plan on letting them know. (The last time I did one of these plan of attacks was with Cincinnati Bell, who was offering services before they were ready and suddenly my phone was connected to someone else's number and voice mail! After I wrote my letter, I was asked to speak to the marketing department and was put on speakerphone to say what I had to say! And got six months of free service from the whole fiasco.) If Time Warner doesn't release me from my contract, I plan on contacting the State Attorney General's office and seeing if they can help me. I am paying big bucks for this service, and I firmly believe that what's going on is NOT right. They locked me in by waving a carrot in front of my nose, without telling me of the drastic change in quality of services that were coming up in the immediate future. I have never been hesitant about standing up for myself, especially when big corporations are abusing me as a customer. It's one thing to sit back and whine and complain about things, but it's pointless unless you follow through and actually do something about it!! And I plan on doing something about it. I'll keep you posted. You're on notice, Time Warner!


trisha too said...

What a mess!

You just reinforced my lack of desire for more technology--we haven't had cable since we've been married, and if we've lived without it for 20 years, chances are pretty good we can live without it forever!!!

Good luck!

Karen said...

You go girl! Make sure you keep us updated....I love a good fight!

Cynthia D. said...

I don't think you will have any problem. What company would make you keep a service that doesn't work???? They will either fix it, tell you what you could be doing wrong with the new system, or let you out. Until you know it is a problem with them...don't sweat the small stuff! (not worth the frown lines.)