Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I hate Time Warner Cable

I hate Time Warner.

Time Warner Sucks.

Last night, Bad Dad canceled cable and downgraded us to "basic internet only" service, which was not supposed to change anything about our internet service or speed.

At 6 PM today, we were unable to browse the internet (with Chrome, Safari or Firefox).  All browsers showed a Time Warner provisioning error message telling us to call 1-877-777-7371 and give them my MAC address (provided in the browser) so that they could turn it on.

OS X network diagnostics showed that we were connected to the internet.

The UNIX command line utility, ping, also confirmed our connection.  Packet speeds were very slow, but less than 10% of the packets were dropped.  We were connected to the internet.  So why can't we browse?  Very strange.

I rebooted all the computers, the modem, and the wi-fi routers.  Still no change.

I called the number at 7:00 PM and dutifully navigated through the Byzantine voicemail prompts (that don't describe anything similar to my problem), trying to figure out the magic combination that would get me to a live person who can help me.

At 7:10, I landed a person in India who told me that he couldn't help me but could transfer me to someone who could.  I asked for a phone number that I can use in case my call got dropped (a non-negligible concern when dealing with TW customer service) but he refused to give me one.

At 7:14, I was patched through to their "internet service" customer service queue and placed on hold.

At 7:18  A "internet" customer service rep with an Indian accent asked me for my phone number and account information .again. !  ( Last time, I gave my real name but it didn't match the name on their account and told me my husband, the account holder, had to call them.  Of course, when he called them, the department that could help us was closed.)  This time, they took my husband's name and my name and proceeded to try to turn on connections to our MAC address.

I asked why ping works but he had no idea what I was talking about.  So then I tried to explain that I can access the internet through UNIX command line but not through a browser window.  He still didn't catch my drift.

At 7:27 the technician was unable to resolve the problem and said he would put us on hold while he worked with a more senior technician.

Time Warner Sucks.

At 8:00 he came back with apologies for taking so long (3 minutes, 33 minutes, what's an order of magnitude when you are TW?).  He told me that my modem was too old and not compatible with their system.  I asked to speak to a supervisor.

At 8:10 I asked the supervisor why we were being alerted now to old hardware compatibility.  Why didn't they alert us earlier, like when Bad Dad was on the phone with them last night?  Or during normal business hours so I can run out and purchase a newer modem?  And why can't they back out the firmware change?

They told me to buy a new modem tomorrow and then call them back so with the MAC address of the new modem.  I again asked for a direct phone number so that I don't have to go through the voicemail and hold hell again.  I don't like having to spend an hour just to get through to someone who can do something.  They said that they can't give me a more direct phone number than the TW customer service number.

So I asked them what is the TW customer service number and they refused to tell me.  Why don't they know their own number?

Bad Dad arrived home and I spoke with him and the rep on speakerphone.  Magically, they transferred Bad Dad to someone stateside who confirmed that we did NOT change our internet plan and ascertained that our old modem should work for the lower network speeds characteristic of our basic plan.  The  rep remotely enabled our old modem immediately.  I asked him, why didn't India transfer me to you right away?

I'm a former UNIX sysadmin.  I did the normal tests to try to isolate the problem.  I'm not a network engineer, but I hang out with friends who are.  My understanding of computer networking is sophisticated for a non-specialist.

I tried to explain to the Indian techs my observations, but they didn't listen to me or answer my questions.  It's not even clear to me that they even understood what I was telling them.

Why did Bad Dad get immediately referred to a stateside tech that understood and could resolve the problem quickly?  Why did I have to waste 80 minutes with bozos in India who told me that I was asking the impossible?

Is there any software or device that will lower my voice so I can sound like a man and get better customer service?

Or can Time Warner learn to respect their female customers?  Better yet, can they hire techs that respect female customers?  Can those techs be found in India given their pervasive climate of treating women badly?  Why is TW outsourcing to a country with such a poor human rights record?  Are there places more deserving of our $ support?

Don't tell me that Americans can't do the job.  It's clear from my experience tonight that Indians can't do it either.  ;-)

Time Warner Sucks.

What ISP are you using and how do they treat you?

Does it matter if you are a man or woman when you call customer service?

I hate Time Warner.

Thank-you for letting me vent.  It's been a frustrating evening.  I'm off to do a little yoga and then cast-on a project for moi.  I deserve it.  I'd show you the beautiful yarn, but I can't find my camera.


  1. I feel for you, I really do.
    I have a friend, a free-lance TV producer, who is on assignment in India right now. She had to get a visa for India on relatively short notice a couple of weeks ago. It may amuse you to learn that India has outsourced its visa processing to a company in the US.

  2. Wow, does this sound TOTALLY familiar! Yes, of COURSE they treat females like idiots. I remember when having problems with my internet provider (which was AT&T at the time - they really suck) and I, and a female colleague, were on a speaker phone with AT&T customer service. We are both Unix folks, like you, who knew more than the support person. He was completely patronizing and, at one point, made some metaphor about spaghetti in a strainer, talking to us as if we were idiots. My colleague and I just looked at each other and rolled our eyes. (He would NEVER have said such a thing to a male customer, I'm sure.) It wasn't even an apt metaphor for the situation. My colleague and I have bachelor degrees in computer science. While we are not network engineers either, we have a clue.

    I long ago dropped AT&T - their customer service was terrible and my internet service was unacceptable.

    I now use Comcast and, luckily, have almost no need of customer support.

    The trick is to get past the tier 1 support (typically in India) to the tier 2 support (typically in the U.S.). I was more forward than you were, because I used to tell them that I needed tier 2 and was pretty insistent about it. I had pretty good success with getting to tier 2.

    But your story sounds completely familiar and completely believable.

    I used to measure my network speed using one of those browser-based sites that measure throughput. It might have been speedtest.net, but if not, it was similar.

    Anyway, good luck. AT&T support was truly atrocious and the network speeds abysmal. I won't even use AT&T for telephone service. I've been pretty happy with Comcast, but I won't use them for TV service, by the way. I use a satellite for that. :)

  3. I am a system admin, I tell them the EXACT problem but they never believe ME because I sound like a girl. So I complained! I asked for supervisors!Frustration.
    Then my husband calls. I tell him what to say. It is fixed immediately. They give him a free month.
    After that month we switch to Verizon. They seem to be less sexist, but time will tell

  4. We have Comcast. My name's on the account, and believe it or not, I've had pretty good Customer Service. Not perfect, but they definitely listen to me. Our biggest issue is that the wires are hung too low. Every 6 months or so, a truck drives down our street and takes out the wires. They're confused every time and it takes longer to fix that than other issues. We're about to cancel cable--as soon as the Chromecast arrives! We'll see how it goes from there.

  5. It seems that they almost all treat women like idiots, especially the Indian support personnel. I used to have AT&T which is really terrible. I now have Comcast and the support has been okay. My biggest issues with them have been over physical issues like wiring, because it is a local thing, but they wouldn't connect me to the local service department. But it is all taken care of now.

  6. My sympathies for the bad service. An electrical engineer friend who has outsourced and managed significant engineering tasks in India tells me that good US-based engineers are worth about 3 Indian engineers.

    I have AT&T DSL. The connection speeds are abysmal, mostly due to latency issues I think. Since I don't watch cable TV there seemed to be little reason to go with a cable internet provider.

  7. I'm another Comcast user - with no cable tv, only internet. I have had to use their customer service, but most incidents involved tv cable when we had it. Phone support has always been very good, and pretty polite.

    The most frequent problem I have is with area outages of power/service - happens several times a year.


Comments are open for recent posts, but require moderation for posts older than 14 days.