Time Warner Cable: Monopolies Are Bad.

Toby and I have had some serious problems with our Internet access lately. And I wasn’t going to write about it, but I’m so frustrated, so annoyed with how things have been dealt with by Time Warner Cable (Road Runner) I can’t hold back any longer. And whatever insight people might have, whatever ideas come to mind, I’ll take them all.

It’s been 3 weeks. We’ve been having problems with our On Demand, which is totally ignorable considering we have a DVR and I am obsessive about recording the shows we like to watch. The biggest problem, especially for two people who make a living on the Internet, is that we don’t have it. And when we do have it, it’s spotty.

We’re averaging anywhere between a 15% and 100% packet loss all the time. Our cable modem (and this information was given to us by a Time Warner Cable customer service representative named Judith) flaps at a 500+ rate. (She said 100 is considered a problem at Time Warner. 500 is considered, “What the hell are these people thinking paying for our service?”)

On Saturday a technician finally came out (he was a half hour later than the 8 – 12 PM time slot we were given) and gave us a new modem. He said the one we had been using was recalled in 2000. (We signed up for this service in 2003. That modem worked fine for us up until 3 weeks ago. So I’m not going to complain about the fact that Time Warner gave us a recalled modem. If they want to cut corners, fine. But I wish they’d use the money they were saving cutting corners and put it toward decent service.) The technician also replaced a piece of hardware directly outside the house. He told us that the problems we were having should be fixed.

But they weren’t fixed. We called again. And again. And again. I called once on Saturday, two times on Sunday, three times on Monday, four times yesterday, and once already today. Every single time I/we get the same story or a bunch of runarounds about how there’s nothing they can do for us. Our modem, for every five minutes it’s up, spends about an hour down, blinking incessantly. Yesterday it was down for 8 hours straight. Today it’s been down every half an hour. I can get on for a few minutes and then it drops me again.

They declared a neighborhood outage on the 30th, which has been cleared but hasn’t yet been cleared from their system and until that’s done they cannot send us another technician. Not that a technician can help us. We’ve already been told that the problem is not coming from within the house. It’s coming from a local hub someplace. And we believe that, because our modem is working just fine when it does have a signal. The best part is we can’t get any credit until a Time Warner technician comes out and writes up that there is a problem, which is why we want the technician even though he/she won’t be able to do anything to actually fix the problem. So, we can’t get a technician because their systems haven’t been cleared and we can’t get a discount for our troubles because a technician cannot be dispatched to our house because their systems haven’t been cleared of the previous outage not that a technician can help us anyway since the problem isn’t coming from within our house. And they won’t send someone if it’s a neighborhood issue because that’s a waste of their time. However, they won’t fix the neighborhood wide issue until enough people have called in to complain. You see my frustration?

We pay roughly 150 dollars for cable television (that includes HBO, Showtime, and the On Demand channels for both) and Internet Access. On Demand is currently down, has been for days now, as is our Internet service. And our options are next to none. We don’t even have an existing phone jack in our apartment to sign up for Verizon (something I vowed not to do ever again back in 2001). We don’t qualify for Optimum. We’re not sure what we can do at this point. And if you’re still actually reading this, I’m looking for answers. Because paying them for this disservice feels awful.

Today, in hopes of getting our neighbors to call in as well, we renamed our modem to, “Roadrunner sucks. If you’re having problems, please call.” We’re also contemplating dropping cable altogether, (which might kill me, I won’t lie) and using our cell phones for Internet access. That’s how desperate we are. The fact that I’m toying with dropping my precious cable TV should tell you how upset I am with Time Warner Cable.

Maybe, to some degree, I’m taking my hormonal frustration out on Time Warner cable, focusing all my discomfort on their inability to do their job. And I know that blog posts about such matters are a drag to read, but I can’t help and think that some poor sod might be move into Greenpoint, price ISPs, and decide to go with Time Warner Cable over another, more reliable option. Because if they do go with Time Warner Cable they are in for a world of frustration. So, I thought it was my duty to get the word out as much as humanly possible. Perhaps Google can help me do the rest. Perhaps you can too.

21 Comments

  1. I hated Time Warner Cable. Our cable always went out. Our internet always went out. We were paying lots of money for two things that we could never use.

    And then Time Warner Cable switched over to Comcast, which isn’t much better.

    Reply

  2. I heard Comcast is awful, too. I hear awesome things about Direct TV but we’re not sure our very overprotective landlord will let us put a satellite dish on the roof. In fact, I’d be willing to bet money on a big fat NO from him. He won’t even let us use the hose to wash the car. heh.

    Reply

  3. hey, you just left a comment on my blog about similar issues (which is funny because i’m a reader of yours, so i probably would have read this later today and left you a similar comment.)

    this whole thing is insane. right now, our cable/dvr/on demand work fine, but our internet works maybe 50% of the time, and when it does, it’s incredibly slow. at this point, we mooch the internet of someone in our neighborhood (thank you mr. GoatsDoRoam, whoever you are) so much that i spend most of my internet time feeling guilty.

    someone told me that verizon now has a plan where you don’t need a phone line, and i keep meaning to check that out. the last contact we had with time warner was when the crew foreman came out a couple of weeks ago, fixed our cable (because someone had unplugged it outside), and told us that our signal would always be weak until they fixed things “underground.”

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  4. While getting rid of cable will not rid you of all your troubles, I can assure you that dropping cable is extremely freeing.

    Reply

  5. erica, I think the verizon option is vios, which might not be available to us yet. We looked into that as well. I have to say, I’m sort of loving the fact (judging by email and some of the comments so far) that I’m/we’re not alone. Now if only we could get some of our neighbors to call in. Maybe they’ll do something about it?

    Missy, while I would love to get rid of cable and “free myself” from it, I’m about to spend the majority of my day (and nights) breastfeeding a screaming baby boy, which means I’ll be up most of the time as well. While I know I said before that I’d be getting rid of the TV in our bedroom, I changed that tune. As long as he’s an infant and I exist solely to feed him, I am going to watch as much cable as humanly possible. I’ll read as well, but there’s no way I’m giving up cable right now if I can help it. As freeing as it might be, I think that option might make me go crazy. (I’m not even allowed to walk up our three flights of stairs more than once for the first two weeks after giving birth. I’ll be a prisoner in my own home and my guard will be an 8 pound Tobyjoe.)

    Reply

  6. On a related note, we found out recently that our DVD player won’t play any new DVDs (the “layered” kind with lots of extra features). We tried to watch a movie last night and it didn’t read the disc. So, we managed to get it to play in TJ’s Playstation. But the controller won’t allow us to pause it, which blows because I pee every 15 minutes. I missed half the movie.

    We’re not doing to well in the entertainment department.

    Reply

  7. Hey – We use TWC here in Cary, NC as well. And although we are extremely wary, we have not had problems with them yet – in fact, the service has been phenomenal. And I think that is mainly due to the fact that we don’t live in a city that has 5+ million people in it or some insane number I don’t know.

    Alex (my husband) was flipping out a few weeks about how TWC issued this statement that basically said that customers no longer have the right to be guaranteed uptime or a particular bandwidth speed. Nice… right?

    I do recommend asking your landlord about directv- we would get it except for the fact that we’d have to cut down like 6 trees in our yard. Maybe even tell him that you’ll leave the dish there when you vacate the apartment- I dunno. It may solve your issues with the TV, but isn’t going to solve your online issues. :(

    Reply

  8. Here’s what I said at the time

    Shorter TWC: “We advertise our premium service as 8Mbps. However, we reserve the right to not give you that if we feel like it, or to arbitrarily give you less based on rules which you are not allowed to know.”

    And the packet shaping announcement:

    http://www.dslreports.com/forum/remark,18468495

    Reply

  9. Oh, holy shit. My head is spinning after reading that. How can they charge so much and offer so little? I realize that you guys are doing alright by them, but we’re in the dark over here. If Tobyjoe needs to upload a file, he can’t. It’s that simple. It drops him before the file goes up. This is absurd.

    Are they spreading themselves too thin? And are people had by the balls because there are so few options?

    Reply

  10. It goes on and on and on, that thread and of course, it’s taking me forever to read through it all because our connection keeps dropping. This has to be seen by more folk sin our area.

    And it doesn’t only affect people downloading giant movies/music, we don’t do that. Ever. It’s affecting us for even moving a 1 MB file over – a perfectly legitimate file, one for work.

    If I continue to read this, I might have a fit. Or go into labor. Maybe I’ll continue reading it.

    For those who are lazy and don’t like to paste urls

    Reply

  11. Keep reading! Keep Reading! We want to meet Tobyjoe Jr this week! :D :D

    Reply

  12. P.S. I still think TWC is going to wind up pissing us off sooner or later. I work from home from Cary, NC for a company in Miami, so am completely dependent upon the connection to do my job. I’m really not looking forward to the day (and it is coming!) when I’m going to have to wrangle with them. don’t be sad that we are getting good service and you guys are in the dark… be hopeful because eventually you are going to be able to shout, “SEE? SEE?? I TOLD YOU SO!” ;)

    Reply

  13. Well, I’ve had my own trouble out here in Flyoverland of the Midwest, and it goes a little something like this: I had Charter cable/internet at my apartment for A YEAR AND A HALF. I came home from a weekend trip to find that while I had TV, I no longer had internet service. I called, and found out that THEY HAD NO RECORD OF MY ACCOUNT. NONE. Suddenly, after a year and a half of impeccable connection and bill-paying, they had never even HEARD of me. On the upside: Free cable TV. So I called SBC (sorry, ahem, now AT&T) for DSL, and they hooked me up right quick. Once again, awesome service. I just moved in with my mom to save money while I go to school, and for some reason, even though my mom lives in a suburb only about 7 miles outside the city, DSL isn’t available at her house. And AT&T wants to charge me $200.00 to break my contract. To which I replied: “Ahahaha.” Actually, what I told the woman (verbatim) was, “You are out of your mind if you think I’m paying an early termination fee. Let me talk to your supervisor.” Once that rigamarole was over, I called Charter (against my better judgment, but those are pretty much your two options here), where the guy told me that even though my mom pays $50 for basic cable (rip!), he could give me basic cable, high-speed internet, and telephone service for $90/mo. Sign me UP! Except, no. At the end of the call, he informed me that it was an ADDITIONAL $90 and he was sorry if I misunderstood him. TRICKSY. So I told him (very nicely, I might add) to skip it all and just send someone over for the Internet. Which he kindly did, and lo, there was a wireless signal! I could email while peeing! EMAIL WHILE PEEING! Except, no. I started having the same problem you’re currently having. Right now the guy’s at my mom’s house, tinkering, hopefully fixing. I’m not holding my breath.

    Reply

  14. Well, I’ve had my own trouble out here in Flyoverland of the Midwest, and it goes a little something like this: I had Charter cable/internet at my apartment for A YEAR AND A HALF. I came home from a weekend trip to find that while I had TV, I no longer had internet service. I called, and found out that THEY HAD NO RECORD OF MY ACCOUNT. NONE. Suddenly, after a year and a half of impeccable connection and bill-paying, they had never even HEARD of me. On the upside: Free cable TV. So I called SBC (sorry, ahem, now AT&T) for DSL, and they hooked me up right quick. Once again, awesome service. I just moved in with my mom to save money while I go to school, and for some reason, even though my mom lives in a suburb only about 7 miles outside the city, DSL isn’t available at her house. And AT&T wants to charge me $200.00 to break my contract. To which I replied: “Ahahaha.” Actually, what I told the woman (verbatim) was, “You are out of your mind if you think I’m paying an early termination fee. Let me talk to your supervisor.” Once that rigamarole was over, I called Charter (against my better judgment, but those are pretty much your two options here), where the guy told me that even though my mom pays $50 for basic cable (rip!), he could give me basic cable, high-speed internet, and telephone service for $90/mo. Sign me UP! Except, no. At the end of the call, he informed me that it was an ADDITIONAL $90 and he was sorry if I misunderstood him. TRICKSY. So I told him (very nicely, I might add) to skip it all and just send someone over for the Internet. Which he kindly did, and lo, there was a wireless signal! I could email while peeing! EMAIL WHILE PEEING! Except, no. I started having the same problem you’re currently having. Right now the guy’s at my mom’s house, tinkering, hopefully fixing. I’m not holding my breath.

    Reply

  15. Comcast customer service is about as helpful as talking to a soup ladel. I’m sorry your service provider seems to be stuck in a vortex of suck. I think I would cry if I couldn’t DVR “Hell’s Kitchen” and “So You Think You Can Dance.” Reality T.V. is my crack.

    Reply

  16. My parents in North Carolina have had RoadRunner for about 7 years now and has worked great. They have phone, cable, and internet service through them.

    I live in the mountains of NC and have Charter. It was very flaky at first but I kept calling them, and after 2 technician visits, replacing a few things, and wiring in a new splice the connection works fine.

    My only advice is to keep calling (I know that’s not what you want to hear).

    The packet shaping is actually a good thing, and should improve average bandwidth available to everyone.

    Reply

  17. Apparently the packet shaping has nothing to do with our problem. Tobyjoe corrected me about this. This is what he sent me:

    Packet shaping isn’t our problem – it’s basic connectivity.

    Pings are 64 bytes, which are almost empty packets.

    So our pings dying isn’t a result of the shaper slowing us down, but more a result of the modem not being able to find its gateway.

    But, yes, I plan on calling and calling and calling until we finally just give up entirely and put up a dish without our landlord’s permission. (I kid. I’ll ask.)

    Reply

  18. First, file a complaint with the NY Public Utilities Commission: http://www.dps.state.ny.us/New_complaintdept.html.

    Second, file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau: https://odr.bbb.org/odrweb/public/GetStarted.aspx.

    Good luck! Cable companies are obnoxious.

    Reply

  19. Thanks, Nabbalicious!

    Also, to the folks whose comments I accidentally deleted last night, if you want to repost, you can. I am sorry about that. I had a problem with comments marked as spam, internet access, and approvals. Forgive.

    Reply

  20. I was visiting my friend in Greenpoint 2 weeks ago and her On Demand was out, too. The cable person came by and assured her that they were working on it, that the whole neighborhood was having problems with the On Demand, but uh, yeah, it wasn’t fixed at that time.

    I hope it gets fixed soon.

    Reply

  21. Direct TV Bound August 1, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    I have been at home since 8 this morning waiting on a TWC tech. At 2 I decided to call and see where they might be. An hour later I got a call back stating they would have a new tech contact me for an afternoon appointment. Its now 10:30 and guess what, no call no tech. So, tomorrow I will cancel phone, cable and internet. i am sure my 160.00 can be used somewhere else

    Reply

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