My Nightmare with Time Warner Cable
Why Julie Jacobson selected Time Warner Cable over AT&T U-verse in move to California, and how the process put TWC on the road to suckiness.
I had the choice between Time Warner Cable and AT&T U-verse here in my new Carlsbad, Calif., condo just north of San Diego.
In the end, I went with TWC because we can get free expanded basic cable (sans box) in our extra locations, which is all we need.
AT&T U-verse wins hands down if you want all the bells and whistles. You get far more hard drive for the DVR, plus multiroom distribution, plus more channels for the buck. But each TV outlet beyond two is $7 per box. That means extra cash for secondary and tertiary locations, plus ... a requisite box which is a giant pain ... especially in small spaces.
At least for now, you can get those extra locations sans fee and little black box.
In our new condo/apartment we can get by with a one-zone DVR. We don’t need multiroom (thank you Hulu Plus and Netflix), but I do want news and my cooking shows throughout our three-story flat.
Probably the biggest reason we went with TWC, though, is that you can get a CableCard for use with TiVo, Media Center, whatever. You can’t get that with U-Verse because that service is IP-based, not cable.
It just so happens I have an InfiniTV 4 USB CableCard Tuner from Ceton that I’m dying to try. All I need is a multi-stream CableCard (M-Card) from the cable company to insert into the Ceton box. Then plug that into the USB port of any Windows 7 PC for streaming and/or recording four streams simultaneously. Blammo, there’s my whole-house DVR with virtually unlimited storage.
Could Ordering TV Service Be Any More Difficult?
This was not a fun selection process. Of course, no one at AT&T or TWC knew what a CableCard was, much less an M-Card, and deciphering the offerings was onerous at best.
I love especially how you check out with your $89+ package from TWC to find out that your “free” HD DVR comes with an additional $11/month box-rental fee and $11/month service fee. So it turns out the HD DVR is free + $22/month, which puts TWC pricing into U-verse territory.
At this point, though, I wouldn’t put TWC in the “sucky category.”
Here’s what led TWC on the path to suckiness.
I ordered service and they could not install it for at least nine days, even though the condo is already TWC-ready, having just been vacated by TWC subscribers.
OK, I can live with that.
What sealed the deal is that I received an email the following day with the subject: “Please call us to avoid cancellation of your Time Warner Cable order.”
That sounds pretty ominous right?
The message continued:
Thank you for placing your Time Warner Cable order online. We were unable to complete your order with the information you provided.
Please call us at 855-889-4113 so we can proceed with your service order. Be sure to have your order confirmation number (########) and the four-digit PIN you created during your online order ready when you call. We look forward to hearing from you so we can complete your order as soon as possible.
Thank you for choosing Time Warner Cable.
So I called the number on a Sunday at 3:15 p.m., using the phone number in the email. The office was closed by then. Believe it or not, I started pining for Comcast back in Minnesota. At least their customer service is 24/7.
The scant hours kept by TWC customer service—“Please break down only during these times”—reminds me of those signs on the highway that say, “No shoulder ahead,” with the implication being, “Please don’t break down for the next two miles.”
In any case, the friendly recording invited me to chat with a representative in real-time at timewarnercable.com/chat. Which I did.
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at email@example.com
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