Thursday, December 2, 2010

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

It has been a while since I have been on and passing along my brand of cynical wit.  There has been a lot of stuff going on and it hasn't amounted to much, in many ways.

Today's topic concerns the beginning of the end of my business relationship with Time Warner Cable in Austin.  A year ago I got rid of my cable TV service because, even when I gave them a month to fix the problem, they could not resolve the reception issues in my neighborhood.  Macro-blocking and audio cutting out in the middle of programs is not what I consider usable service.  When I turned off my TV service, I told TW that my Internet service was working well, but if it started to function like the TV service I would not be giving them a month to resolve the problem.  I was hoping to never need to make good on that threat.

Right before I went on my trip to NY a month ago, my RoadRunner (cable-based Internet) service started to drop-out at various times for a minute or so.  If all you do is web browsing, this isn't too bad because the traffic is bursty and you may never notice.  However, if you're streaming audio or video or doing interactive terminal sessions or online games, as I am, then these interruptions cause whatever you're doing to just terminate.  When I got back from NY, I gave it a week or two to resolve (and replaced my cable modem) and finally decided to call TW to report a problem.  I could see the problems on the cable modem's error log, and I could see the same problems on my neighbor's cable modem.  I agreed to have TW send a technician to my house.

So the TW technician comes over and proceeds to snip the connectors off the cable lines in my house and re-terminate them, even though his test equipment reported no problems with the wiring.  In fact, my signal strength was too high.  So instead of installing a splitter to attenuate the signal in the wiring outside my jack, he removed the wall plate, snipped the already short coax cable down, and put the splitter behind the wall, insuring that to do anything else, I will need to remove that wall plate.  Wonderful (said with sarcasm).  Then he goes out to the outside box where all the neighbors are connected to the cable system, puts his equipment on there, and says, "Oh, here's the trouble.  This is definitely a line problem.  I will need to call my manager and have a line technician come out here because it's something in the neighborhood cabling."  Duh.  Isn't this what I've been saying?  Technician then says that the line techs should have the problem resolved within 2 days.  Fine.

Five days and 18 service interruptions later, I decide to call TW to find out what in heck is taking so much time to fix.  I find that the problem was never referred to the line techs, and now TW wants to send another technician to my house.  WTF!?  I explain again what the previous technician found and did, that it was not in my house, so it made no sense to send a technician to my house wasting my time and their's only to determine that it was an issue with the lines in the neighborhood, and that it would be a lot more efficient for them and me for them to start with their own wiring before coming to my house.  But, no, they can't do that...and I'm certainly not allowing yet another technician to visit my house.

This is the exact same sequence of events that I had when I told TW I was canceling my cable TV service a year ago.

As much as I despise at&t, I realized it was time, after five years of fairly good Internet service with Time Warner, to go back to at&t and get DSL again.  I say this with a lot of trepidation because I have been singing the praises of my Internet service for a while, but I know deep down that this is going to be an ongoing problem.  The fact is that there is something wrong with the cable TV infrastructure in this neighborhood, and TW would rather deny there is a problem than to fix it.  I'm tired of dealing with incompetence in this area.  I'm a network administrator responsible for a large network consisting of many routers, switches, and various servers.  If my infrastructure worked like this they'd fire me on the spot, with good reason.  Despite my issues with at&t's administrative BS, the DSL service they provided to me worked pretty well most of  the time.

Truth be told:  If you have good cable infrastructure in your neighborhood, RoadRunner is a good deal, for all the reasons I've mentioned in my previous postings.  On the flip side, Time Warner Austin has no desire to properly fix infrastructure that has problems, and would rather bellyache about declining cable subscriptions and people who allegedly use "disproportionate" Internet bandwidth on RoadRunner.  If you're in one of the areas with bad infrastructure, chances are that it will never get fixed, and you'll either need to tolerate crappy service or go with someone else.

Oh, and if any of you Time Warner people are reading this:  Please go to hell.  Go directly to hell.  Do not pass "Go."  Do not collect $200.  You had more than ample opportunity to keep my business.  Instead, you treated me like just another annoying customer.  I warned you repeatedly about the consequences of this behavior, and you decided to ignore me.  It's too late to make amends.  Good bye.

(last minute update)
A co-worker forwarded this to me, and I thought it was entirely apropos.  I suspect that if I called TW and said "shibboleet" they would send the padded wagon instead of forward me to a l33t t3ch...
http://xkcd.com/806/

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