Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Worst Company In The World, By Whatever Name

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed yesterday morning when I saw something that made me laugh out loud. A friend of mine had posted a message talking about how much she hates Time Warner. I've posted similar things in the past, and even wrote a few posts about it on this site. I know that I have written, over a year ago, that I was going to ditch Time Warner. When I went to do so, I discovered that the Internet provider I wanted to switch to isn't available here, and the alternatives to Roadrunner are sketchy at best. So in this area, we are pretty much stuck with Time Warner, and like all monopolies, it really doesn't give a shit about its customers.
I've had two interactions myself with Time Warner in the last week. The first and more minor one came when I was packing up Lauren's apartment; she had a cable box and obviously was not going to be able to return it. Leaving aside for the moment the question of how the hell someone in her financial situation could afford cable, I told her I would return it, and last Monday, I did so. The woman at the counter wasn't terribly helpful, but accepted the box and handed me the receipt--and I saw that the name on the receipt was for the guy in the other upstairs apartment in the building. Mystery solved; the guy in that apartment moved out/was evicted a month ago. Time Warner requires, like almost no other service provider, that you pay a month in advance for their product, and I have confirmed that the guy let her use the box after he left because September was already paid for... my point is this: Time Warner knew whose name the account was in, and knew the address the box was supposed to belong to. Obviously, neither matched when I brought it in, because I had no idea of this little arrangement. I'm not exactly heartbroken that I was not given more of a hard time, but I'm wondering what the hell they were thinking of. How did they know that I was not a vengeful ex or someone messing with the guy who had actually paid for the service? I've already known, from decades of experience, that Time Warner really doesn't give a shit about their customers, but the casual indifference to the circumstances of how that box ended up in a dwelling other than the one it was supposed to be in surprised even me.
Before I move onto the second encounter, I want to recount an earlier instance of how this company operates. Ten years ago, when I lived at Webster Court, I came home one day to find a Time Warner business card stuck in my front door, with a handwritten note on the back telling me that there was an issue with my service and that I needed to call ASAP. At the time, I had a package no longer available--thirteen channels only, and no Roadrunner because I didn't have Internet at the time. I really didn't know what the agent could be referring to, but I also knew that my $8/month service couldn't be screwed up too badly, so I called. The guy actually had just left the building and was around the corner in the apartment complex, so he came right over again--and opened the conversation with "I see you're stealing cable from your neighbor." And he repeated himself when I, stunned, said, "What did you just say?" I told him he was wrong, what package I had, and that he must be mistaken. He then said it again, and then made his real pitch--that I could "legitimize' my cable access by signing up for some expensive package. I went ballistic on him, told him exactly what I thought of his "sales technique," pushed him out of the building physically, and called the company and reported him. As far as I know, nothing happened to him. But can you imagine a company where an accepted method of selling services is accusing the customer of stealing the service being offered?
Anyhow, I came home one day to find my Internet access was unavailable, and some quick troubleshooting deduced that the modem had shit the bed. The soonest available service call was in a couple of days, and I noted with some satisfaction that Time Warner has narrowed down the time frame they tell you that their people will come to an hour's window, instead of the infamous "sometime between Christmas and New Year's" that it used to be... so the guy arrives, with his tablet and his utility belt. He proceeds to ask me  a million questions about the way the modem is hooked up, started asking questions about my cable, and routers and splitters and a whole bunch of other stuff. I told him I had spent 30 minutes on the phone with their customer service department, and that all he needed to do was replace the modem. He pulls up my account, and asks a few more questions--and according to what he was saying, all the information there was inaccurate. I do not have a cable box, the modem was not customer-purchased, and I did not have other devices using the modem other than our phones, our laptops, and a Nook. And he asked the same questions three freaking times, like I was lying to him. And he ended up shimmying up the pole across the street and running new wires in (totally unnecessary) and calling in for backup, a second technician, to help him with that. And then finally, after replacing the modem and helping create a new network, he fucked up entering the password and had to do a factory reset on the modem, prolonging his call for another ten minutes.
I don't know of another company in the world that consistently accuses their customers of fraud and theft of services. It's happened to me several times over the period of a decade, and I've heard a dozen anecdotes of similar experiences occurring with other people, too--so it appears that this is standard operating procedure with this outfit. Nothing like having contempt for your clientele...I guess that happens when you're a monopoly and you fuck your customer base over on a regular basis. I did notice that they are soon going to be "Spectrum," which made me remember that they recently merged with some other outfit (not, thankfully, Comcast, whom my friends in other parts of the country tell me is even worse to its subscribers than Time Warner is. Preventing that merger is something that even the most diehard racists that hate our President should be grateful to him and his Administration for).
And the final indignity was the incessant, four or more times a day that Time Warner called me after the service call, wanting to know whether I was satisfied with the response. I finally took one of these calls when it became clear that they were going to keep calling till I answered. Of course, it was some Indian whose accent was so thick I had to ask him to repeat every sentence he uttered, a few of them three and four times. After three frustrating minutes, I finally yelled, "No, I'm not happy, this company is terrible, I can't understand a fucking word you're saying, and if you weren't a monopoly, I would change to another company in seconds. Goodbye!"
Apparently that satisfied their curiosity. They haven't called back.
If I am ever the benevolent dictator of this country, the people that run Time Warner are going to be near, if not at, the top of the list of those sent to Guantanamo Bay, never to emerge again.

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