Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Time Warner Update

It kind of surprised me that I actually had a response from Time Warner Cable to my previous posting ("Alien"). The initial response from Jeff Simmermon made me glad that I got side-tracked with other responsibilities and ended up not calling again about my cable TV service. I thought, "Great! Someone who can definitely help!"

So with hopes of finally getting a resolution to my issues, I sent a very polite and detailed message to Jeff on the 17th of November listing my questions and briefly indicating my concerns with the current DVR. I thought I would share with you the response I got back. Hold on, there seems to be a problem here. Uhhh....I don't see any response, a week later. I haven't received any phone calls. Nothing in my e-mail. Zip. Zero. Nada.

This is a case-in-point about my concerns with customer service and the resulting frustration I mentioned before. I don't feel I am being heard, and I do not feel like a "valued customer." Allow me to spell this out in simpler terms (and this is paraphrasing what I've sent to TWC twice now): If I have computed this correctly (and it isn't easy, given the mysterious pricing and fees structure TWC uses) my TV costs are about to increase to around $90/month with fees and taxes. I have been paying about half that amount for almost the past 12 months because I switched from satellite. That $90/month is $1,080/year. That total is for digital cable and a DVR (note to TWC: don't give me your fscking crap about "free HD" because $90/month is more than what it would cost from the satellite company for their service with HD broken out as a separate item). The DVR rental and service fee are about 20% of that cost ($18/month or $216/year). Compared to the level of service I am receiving, the cost is amazingly high. For $90/month I would expect service that generally works flawlessly, with customer service that I can contact and who really are concerned about keeping me as a customer. My current experience is that the best TWC can provide is beta-quality (at best) DVR service and a signal that has generally good availability unless there's a problem. Customer support is limited to swapping out parts and sending a technician within a couple of days when TV service is completely out. It is a pleasant but rare exception that I end up with someone that really cares about the service being provided and wants to make it better.

So here's how this is going to go, TWC, if you're listening again: If I have to call you again, it is going to be to cancel my TV service, and that call is going to happen before the middle of next week unless I can get my issues resolved. By "resolved," I mean that the service I am subscribing to (or CableCard on TiVo) can be provided and it works, really works, reliably, or we can work out some arrangement where I am getting charged beta prices for beta-quality service. Otherwise I'm going to be happy diverting my $90/month to a Netflix subscription and some other form of entertainment. Will I miss my cable TV? Sure will. But I won't miss paying you $90/month.

Finally - this is for "Speck" who asked me what was wrong with the DVR (because she's gotten a new TV and wanted to know what to do about her cable, just in case TWC thinks I'm a total recluse). I couldn't rattle the list off at the party the other day. Note that there are probably other issues, these are just the ones I could remember:
  • Sometimes reboots at the beginning of recording, causing first 10 minutes of a program to be lost
  • Will sometimes stop recording during the last several minutes of the program for no reason
  • When the beginning or end time is extended to account for a program running slightly over the allotted time, the DVR will do it only once, not at all, or all the time, without any clear consistency. This is necessary for anything airing on Comedy Central.
  • Unit will occasionally become temporarily unresponsive to the remote control, particularly during fast forward or rewind (the friggin batteries are just fine, don't even ask me about that)
  • When playing back recorded programs, it is sometimes necessary to play a different recording before the one to play back will actually play (give something other than a blank screen)
  • Search features are practically unusable:
    1. Only search is by first letter of program, then need to scroll through list to find program. Will only show for one day.
    2. In order to see a different day, or look at a different program, the entire process must be repeated.
    3. No way of knowing which program when multiple search results are present without going back to the beginning of the search process each time listing is looked at
    4. Scrolling through the guide grid is painful - it moves very slowly to the point of falling behind pressing the keys on the remote control
  • Guide cannot resolve recording conflicts properly if a single program episode airs multiple times during the same day (TiVo can do this...)
  • Cannot remove channels from the guide that I either do not receive or do not watch ("favorites" only affects skipping to the next channel, it does not change the guide)
  • On FOX, it sometimes breaks the program up into pieces. This has happened occasionally on other channels as well. If watching live TV, this also causes the replay buffer to erase, preventing the ability to rewind to an earlier part of the program.
Hopefully that helps you (and anyone else) who is thinking about this. The DVR is a Scientific Atlanta abomination, not TWC-specific.


Jeff Simmermon said...

Hi -- I'm really sorry that you felt neglected. Please accept my apologies. I am actually the only person that does blog/Twitter outreach for Time Warner cable, and it's not my only responsibility.

Sometimes stuff like this slips through the cracks, and I'm sorry it happened.

I asked, internally, if you could be put on a list for the new tuning adapters and was told that someone would be reaching out to you. Let me race this around again and see what I can come up with.

In the meantime, if you need some assistance regarding your service, I recommend contacting our Corporate Office of the President at twc.cotp@twcable.com. They're very good. Please mention that I sent you.


Jeff Simmermon
Director, Digital Communications
Time Warner Cable

Jeff Simmermon said...

I just spoke with our VP of advanced technology -- he should be reaching out to you directly to answer your questions.

Thanks again ...

Jeff Simmermon

Speck said...

Hey! Looks like you got some responses. Let me know how it goes. Maybe I'll switch too...