Time Warner Cable: A Study in Nomenclature

This post contains the F-Word. I’m sorry, but I’m writing about Time Warner Cable, so the F-word is absolutely necessary. If you have ever interacted with them, you will understand.

I originally wrote a 1,200 word post describing my ordeal, but you don’t really want to read that, do you? Believe it or not, I try to distill these posts of mine to just the funny parts or the parts where I learned something. I’m trying to be either entertaining or helpful— that’s my goal.

Hey—that should be TWC’s goal, too! Someone should tell them that! Only you can’t tell them anything, because there is no way to communicate with Time Warner Cable. You can call, email, walk into the store, actually scream and cry, but no information will be received by anyone with a soul or a sense of accountability.

Over my two-month struggle to regain internet access, I have realized that Time Warner Cable needs a complete overhaul of their entire organization. Let’s start calling things what they really are, Time Warner. Here are some suggestions.

National Help Desk: The National Help Desk is neither helpful nor anywhere in my nation. I’m not sure what nation it’s in. I suggest we call it the Foreign Frustration Desk.  I have called the Foreign Frustration Desk at least 50 times in the last few months. I received no help, only frustration. The frustration delivery mechanism is superbly effective: a protracted automated answering system subjects you to the same recorded advice each time you call (Reboot your modem! That’ll fix it!) until your call is finally answered by a Frustration Specialist who barely speaks English but has been instructed to apologize excessively while calling you ma’am until she transfers you to another Frustration Specialist who  makes you repeat all your identifying information and tell your entire story again. Repeat ad nauseum.

Service Technician: Again, there is no service actually being provided by these individuals. These are the guys who show up to your house, plug and unplug some things, tappy-tappy-tappy on your keyboard, and say you are up and running. Then they leave and you lose connectivity again. I have had at least three of these guys out in the past couple months. One of them (in collusion with the Foreign Frustration Specialist) told me that the problem was my computer. Everything was fine on Time Warner’s side, so it must be my old computer.  I actually bought a new computer, but guess what? He was wrong. I spent $1,300 and I still couldn’t connect.  These “service technicians” don’t actually have any technical skills, either. I hereby dub them “Workload Shufflers”.

Local Cable Store: Okay, this isn’t actually a misnomer, because I suppose you can buy stuff at the Cable Store. Maybe you can even buy cables there. But these should actually be called Local Apathy Centers, because if you go in there, they don’t give a shit. I went in and desperately pleaded for some help after weeks of no service. Apathy Centers are staffed by Customer Deflection Specialists, who are trained to make sympathetic noises while tapping on their keyboards (aka “updating your account”) and saying whatever is necessary to make you leave the store as quickly as possible.

Supervisor: At the Apathy Center, when I asked, “Who can help me? Who can be accountable and get me some results? Nothing I try is working.” They said, “Well, you can call our Supervisor.”  “Is she here?” I asked, believing that supervisors, well, supervise. But I have been to the store three times and left two voicemails for Supervisors, and they have yet to materialize. I think the supervisors are actually Voicemail Decoys, tricks employed by the Deflection Specialists when you become too persistent.

Construction:  After I bought a new computer because TWC insisted that it was my problem, and I still couldn’t connect, I called the Foreign Frustration Desk and they said, “Oh, we’ll have someone check the line.” Excuse me? You didn’t check the line before you told me it was my computer? This is CABLE INTERNET and you didn’t check the CABLE?  They sent another Workload Shuffler to check the line but he couldn’t solve the problem (shuffle, shuffle) so he placed a work order with “Construction,” who was supposed to replace the line. “They’ll call you,” the Workload Shuffler said.   I would rename Construction, “The Magical Internet Fairy,” because it doesn’t actually exist. No one called; no one came. Ever.

Customers: This one is easy. More than one person told me that if you want results from TWC, you have to freak out and throw a fit. That is not my style. When I am interacting with customer service or retail workers, I try to remember how it was to be the front line—you make very little money, you have no authority, and you take all kinds of crap. Low-class people love to lord over receptionists, retail clerks and other people who are required to interact with them; I am a classy chick and I try to treat others with respect.  There is a limit, however. If you offer a faulty product and appalling customer service and provide no means for resolution, you leave your customers feeling utterly powerless and they become Ticking Time Bombs.

So, after countless hours on the phone with the Foreign Frustration Desk, three visits by Workload Shufflers, two new modems and a brand new computer and still no internet, my fuse was just about gone. I went to my Local Apathy Center and explained the problem to a Customer Deflection Specialist. He scheduled me for a visit from The Magical Internet Fairy the very next Saturday. And on Saturday, I, a Ticking Time Bomb, opened to the door to another Workload Shuffler.

“Are you from Construction?” I asked him.

“No.”

“Do you know what’s going on with my job? Did they tell you anything?”

“No.”

“Someone is supposed to replace the outside line. Someone from Construction. Do you know about that?”

“Construction?”

I started to lose it.  My voice began to escalate as I repeated my story for the 743rd time.

He went outside to call his Voicemail Decoy. My mistake was that I tried to call the Frustration Desk while he was gone. “For technical support, press 1.” “Most problems can be corrected by restarting your modem.” The automated voice-recognition system goes into panic mode when you scream at it. “I’m sorry…I didn’t understand that. Please try again. To cancel your appointment, say, ‘Cancel.’”

I was in full-fledged Automated System Rage by the time the Shuffler returned.

He told me–this was his mistake, using these words–that someone from Construction would call me.

At this point I can no longer accurately relay what happened, because I lost my fucking mind. I’m not kidding. I was shaking and shrieking and probably frothing at the mouth. I heard myself screaming but I could not stop. The kids rushed downstairs to stare and the dogs cowered in the corner of the yard. The Shuffler turned to flee. I chased him out the door and kept yelling. He tried to reason with me. There was more screaming and I’m pretty sure I told him to “stop fucking lying to me and give me someone’s phone number who will actually help me.”

I never saw that Shuffler again; he got in his TWC van and drove away from the crazy lady. But guess what? That very afternoon, some guy showed up to replace the line. The guy said he was from “Quality Control.”  Another giant misnomer: Quality? Control? At Time Warner Cable?  REALLY??

Feeling exhausted and broken after my morning rage, I meekly relayed the story of my TWC ordeal. The guy poked around outside for about 10 minutes and returned with a length of cable that looked as if it had been gnawed by a beaver. “Here’s your problem,” he said, “I don’t know why no one saw this before.”

So in about 20 minutes, this guy—who seems like a figure in a dream; I wouldn’t believe he actually exists except that the internet works now—fixed the problem that I had been fighting for months. All I had to do was make one more trip to the Apathy Center for another modem since the one they’d given me a month before was defective, of course.

The moral of the story is this:  avoid all contact with Time Warner Cable if you can. If not, try screaming first. And please, let’s all call things by their proper names.

18 thoughts on “Time Warner Cable: A Study in Nomenclature

  1. I have written about how modern life complicates everything. I identify with your issues. The problem is that the competition is limited and the same, so you are stuck with all this nonsense.

    • That is the worst part– no one else provides high-speed internet in my area. I tried buying a wireless modem from Clear which uses their wireless 4G network and the signal isn’t strong enough to provide consistent service. Believe me, I would walk if I could.

  2. One question (don’t yell)…..how have you been blogging and posting on Facebook all this time with no Internet? Pirated Internet Command Center, perhaps…..

    • At work. I have a flexible job and I can come in whenever I want. I even had to bring Maddy in to do her homework here a few times. And FB I can do from my smart phone. We should start a Pirated Internet Command Center and grow it into a competitor to TWC…we’d make a killing if we could offer an alternative.

    • Thank you. I wish I could get The Register or someone to publish. I actually just filed a complaint to the BBB. And I’m going to try the FCC next. The problem is solved now but no one will call me back and they gave me like a $23 credit on my account. I want a million dollars and an apology from Ted Turner, goddammit.

  3. Meg, get a WiFi Card from Verizon and up to 5 people can use the internet on the card. I use it everywhere we go and even while were driving to our travels and no problems.

  4. I recently unloaded on the person behind the service counter where I get my car fixed. Talk about apathy. He had me apologizing to him for complaining about his poor service before I bowed my humbled head and walked out the door.

    • I totally feel your pain. Normally, that is me because I’m too polite and conflict-avoidant to really complain when complaining is called for. That’s why this ordeal went on so long…but then my pent-up frustration EXPLODED and I had a mighty tantrum! I do feel bad for that unfortunate guy who just had the bad luck to show up at that moment, but hey…the tantrum worked.

    • It’s close! I was almost able to get a wireless modem from Clear for a comparable price to Cable internet, but the signal at my place isn’t quite strong enough. But yes, I long for the freedom to tell TWC I’m taking my business elsewhere.

      Thank you for visiting and commenting. I found your blog today and I have a HUGE blogcrush already. I was very inspired and impressed.

  5. The problem of course is as stated. When you are the only game in town, you win. We have had similar issues with TWC, to the point where we dumped our TV service from them and just have internet, same story as yourself, sometimes it works and sometimes it drops signal, on an apparent whim. The best service I have ever had was Verizon Fios. We loved Fios. We begged Verizon to lay cable in our area so we could once again in be in internet heaven, alas we are stuck in TWC hell with the rest of Fullerton.

  6. Hey! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and
    tell you I truly enjoy reading your posts. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same topics?
    Thanks!

    • Hi! Thanks for reading. I’m not sure if you want blogs about midlife, or about lousy service or cable companies, etc…try searching for what you want. Bloggers tag their posts so you can find the topics you’re looking for.

  7. OMG!!! Funniest thing I ever read, and seriously this almost exact thing happened to me, I loved the part about the “ma’am” part at the Foreign Frustration Desk, you forgot to mention that their names are always Stacy or Chad and you know damn well they are not a Stacy or Chad!!!! Thanks for sharing!!!!!

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