Time-Warner Cable and its systematically incompetent technicians (long, ranting, tiresome)

I call them “technicians,” but all yesterday in speaking to the customer-service people for several hours after they had left my apartment in disarray, I was referring to them “that asshole” and “the other asshole.” (Isn’t it an awful job, cus-serve reps, to have to deal with people who have completely lost their shit all day, every day?) I actually held on to my shit for quite a while under difficult conditions, but somehow being on hold (and being reminded for up to an hour how valuable I was to T-W C and to please stay on the line) got me into screaming at the recording for therapeutic purposes, which in turn made switching back to “dealing with humans” mode much more difficult.

Anyway, this all started about two years ago, when I first got cable installed, and the tech did three things I needed repaired yesterday, the last one being my issue, the first two being theirs:

  1. they managed to hook up the phone service so that my phone no longer worked as an intercom, which is the only way I can admit people to my high-rise building. I get visitors so rarely, and they always knew to call me on their cels so I could come downstairs and physcially admit them. But when I finally mentioned this to the super of my building, he said that the cable company could usually do a re-install and get the intercom working again. So I placed a call and the rep said they could send someone out on Friday to deal with this problem, and the other two:

  2. The original tech installed my TV service so that I could record off the TV but only if the TV was actually playing. The first time I tried recording after the installation, the recording would end as soon as I turned off the monitor, which puzzled me. I figured out that the installer has done something wrong, but I don’t record that much off the TV anymore, so I placed this as a fairly low priority to be addressed whenever I needed them to come out here for something else. The intercom issue was “something else,” as was:

  3. I’ve been renovating (installing cabinets and such) in my dining room, where I had them place the phone and cable receptor boxes, and I need the wires (which were installed for maximum ugliness, stapled to the walls very crudely) moved to the living room for logistical reasons, and re-installed more neatly, after which I’ll probably repaint the dining room to cover up the mess they made.

So the tech gets here, and promptly informs me that he don’t know nothin’ about no intercoms or phone lines and I’ll need to put in a separate call to get a tech who does that stuff (Thank you, dispatcher who assured that all three jobs could be done by the same tech). Ok, so I figure I’ve lived with the malfunctioning intercom for two years, I can go another week. But then he says:

“The TV is SUPPOSED to be playing when you record.”

“No, it isn’t.”

“That’s how it’s set up.”

“You’re telling me that everyone who has a DVR or a VHS recorder who wants to record a movie playing on the TV in his living room at 3 AM must have the TV set on at top volume to record the movie?”


“Okay, that’s complete bullshit. Do you have a recorder? Does YOUR TV need to be playing in order to record off it?”


“More bullshit.”

He then explains to me how the original tech set it up, and how DVRs work, which I interrupt to remind him that I am simply requesting an installation of my cable service that allows me to record off the TV without the TV being on–if he can do that, fine, get to it, and if he can’t he needs to leave. He walks to the back of the TV set to point out various cables and what they do, and in the course of doing so, bumps into some wooden shelves I have standing up in my living room and knocks them down, where they fall on my glass-topped coffee table, shattering it into a thousand shards.

Long story short I ask him to leave (which he does finally but only after promising me that he didn’t knock into the shelves on purpose, as if I give a shit about his motivation for clumsy and incompetent service, and telling me that a foreman has been dispatched to file a damage claim.) So I wait around all afternoon, either on hold or waiting for various reps to show up and take pictures of the shards of glass all over my living room. I missed an entire day of work (I had been planning to miss the morning, but it stretched into the late afternoon) and now I’ve got a sore throat from screaming at the various obtuse reps (there were four), all of whom asked me to explain the problem in my own detailed language four separate times (and asking me to repeat myself to each of them, which just made me turn up the volume and slow down my enunciation, so by the last one I was barking in-di-vid-u-al syl-lab-les at top vol-ume.)

I’m not sure what, if any, reimbursement I can expect for the shattered coffee table, but I do know that I don’t enjoy shopping for furniture, and I don’t enjoy spending a few days without a table in my living room.

I have a hard time believing that technicians can really be that dumb about such simple things as installing cable service so that the customer can record off the TV–I mean, they must have had a few million such installations over the last few decades. I think I began to lose it when I realized that this incompetent asshole probably got some customers to buy into his line of pathetic bullshit. It’s like I showed up at my job and told my “customers” (I teach in a university) that I’m sorry, but I don’t actually understand literature but their lives will be just fine if they never study it anyway, as a means of getting through the more challenging aspects of my job. I’m really not sure how they stay in business.

I am not a cable technician, but none of what you’ve said they said makes any god damn sense.

You either hit the jackpot with the stupidest installer in the world two years ago and his equally idiotic twin brother this time (who’s a klutz to boot) or the cable company has decided it would be really fun to fuck with you for kicks.

Either way, my apologies.

Those guys need to find a new freaking job. Like flipping burgers at McDonald’s. No, wait: they’d probably burn the burgers.

I despise customer service like that. As a QA rep, and one of the people who writes policy for our call center, it is imperative that:

1: You transfer to the right person the first time, and:
2: When you transfer, you give that person the caller’s name, account information, and why they are calling so they don’t have to repeat the situation.

Good God, man. I feel for you.

Oh, and make sure that they don’t give you the cost of the table as a credit on your bill. I’ve heard of that happening, and that is a sucky offer.

I have no doubt that this is the way that YOU write policy for call centres, but I have yet to experience this with any call centre I’ve ever called; it’s always call, wait, give info to someone, get transferred, give info again, get transferred, give info again, get hung up on (“accidentally”), call in again, wait, rinse, repeat. Oh, those are the GOOD call centres - the bad ones have an IVR system that doesn’t recognize my voice as belonging to a human being (apparently IVR systems don’t recognize “GO FUCK YOURSELF!” as a valid service request, but they don’t recognize “Home telephone” as a valid type of service request, either).

Where was I? Oh yeah, those cable technicians were appalling and completely wrong (as you already knew, PRR). We have our tv off for DVR recording all the time. It has to stay on if we’re doing an instant record (i.e. not from a programmed time), but we hardly ever do that. LG’s incredibly crappy DVRs is another rant, but when the station isn’t blocking our recording, it records with the tv off just fine.

Yes it is infuriating. I had trouble about two years ago myself. The cable kept cutting out, I kept getting bunped offline, the lag was horrible, the latency was off the scale, etc etc etc. The cable company insisted that everything was working properly. So I told them what was happening and what I thought was the problem.

After far too long arguing, I had it. I told them…

“This is the problem. This is how you fix it. I’m an engineer and I know your system better than you seem to. Now get out here and FIX IT!”

It turned out I was right. It was the junction box. They did what I said, and it was fixed. They could have simply come out with their meters after the first call and avoided all this.

So, did they ever send the foreman to file the damage claim? And if so, what did he say?

He came, took a few digital pictures, said they would contact me after the weekend. I’m still wondering what they would do if he had broken a really valuable antique (which this wasn’t, though it was a well-made glass and metal table that I wouldn’t be able to replace for much under 2 or 3 hundred bucks). If it were a 2000 dollar table that he shattered, I’m sure they wouldn’t pay beyond a certain amount, so I’m not sure I can invent a figure and have them go “Oh, yeah, sure thing. Here’s your check.”

Time Warner?

Screwed something up?


Must be backward day again!

They’re in competition with Comcast, that’s how.

Wednesday night my power went out. It came back on in the middle of the night. Thursday morning I had cable TV, but my modem wasn’t working. I tried a few things that they normally suggest, to no avail.

Thursday night I called them. The phone support guy tried refreshing the signal, and that didn’t work. He looked into my account further, and determined that I didn’t pay my bill. Aha! That would explain it. But wait – my TV was still on. And I paid my bill two weeks prior. I even had a confirmation number. “Yes sir, but we haven’t received your payment.” Then why was my TV on? Because they received my payment for that. I couldn’t convince the idiot that IT WAS THE SAME BILL. I tried to get him to try something else, but he wouldn’t budge. He was convinced that I was just a deadbeat.

Figuring that I had to pay the next bill in a couple of weeks anyway, I decided to go ahead and pay it now. Did it restore my service? Nope.

Friday morning, I called in again. The new guy said it was not a billing issue. Something was wrong with my modem. Great. He could send out a technician either that day between 1 and 4, or Sunday between 2 and 5. Nothing on Saturday? Nope, all booked up. Since I had plans for Sunday that I really didn’t want to cancel (that ended up being cancelled anyway), I opted for Friday. I told him to just make sure that the tech called an hour before arriving, so that I could leave work and go back home to let him in. No problem, the guy said.

Problem. I never got a call. I finally called them at about 3:30 to ask why. The newest guy told me that they never send out techs on the same day. Never. It’s policy. So I must have been lying, since no one would ever promise me that. Grrrr! But they did have someone available for Saturday.

In the end, it did end up getting fixed. On Saturday.

When I had Time Warner Cable being hooked up in my apartment I had a couple of brain surgeons doing the work too.

I’d had the box from my previous apartment so the only issue was switching the service to the new address. So they said over the phone, “You’re all set. Hook up your TV and you’re good to go.” I wasn’t. No signal whatsoever. Fine, they’ll send out a technician (anywhere between 8:00am on Tuesday and 12 past midnight on St. Swithen’s Day of course).

These two guys … who besides their incompetence were pretty nice guys … rooted around my apartment for an hour. They managed to track down a splitter in my suspended ceiling and figured that was their aha-moment. Then there was another hour of watching these guys pretty much take apart every ceiling tile in the place to figure out where it led.

As I was leaning against the wall next to a window, I noticed a co-ax feed snaking out of the ceiling and leading to the top of the window. I opened the window and took a look at where it went, thinking it goes down the outside of the building and into whatever switching box it needs to.

I was half-right. It did indeed lead down the outside of the building … for about 10 feet where the end of it dangled in the wind.

“Say, fellas? Do you suppose this has anything to do with my lack of signal?”

“Well shucks. Will ya looky there?”

All that so I could watch re-runs of Green Acres at 3:00 am.

So it was worth it.

Condolences. My folks stopped calling Time-Warner technicians; every time they came for repairs one of the televisions would stop displaying correctly. That’s now the case in the kitchen, where they spend the least amount of time.

When I lived in Manhattan full time, I had TWC. Once you get everything up and running, TV/phone/Internet works pretty damn well, with one minor exception.

That one minor exception was that my cable Internet service would periodically go down for reasons unknown, and I’d get a flashing middle light on my cable modem that no amount of unplugging/replugging would solve. I’d call TWC and schedule a service appointment, and without fail, the service would start up again about 5 minutes before the service tech arrived (several days later). After this happened three times, I was convinced someone at TWC was fucking with me, and still believe this to be the case.

But I digress. Getting the service in the first place was such a huge clusterfuck I almost committed seppaku in my living room. After experiencing numerous install visits where the “inside tech” and the “outside tech” would repeatedly blame one another for screwups, they actually managed to get a cable modem working with the brain they shared.

Then the service started going out when it rained. Repeatedly. I’d get a little puddle of water next to the splitter where service came into the apartment. It took several service visits before someone noticed a cut in the wire from the street, down which rainwater was traveling. The water seeped right down the line until it hit the splitter and wreaked havoc. It took at least six service visits before someone figured this out, then called an “outside tech” to replace the line coming in to the apartment. Awful. Just awful.

PRR, you should be able to hook up the TV and VCR (I assume that’s what you have) the way you want by yourself. Here is TW’s FAQ page:


I’d believe it. Someone from TWC came in and installed a new HD box when I was out one day (my roommate was home) and when I returned I found that the “technician” had set the signal going into the HDTV to stretch all 4:3 programs to fill the screen. He told my roommate, and I quote his exact words, “I fixed it so the screen works better now.”

When I got my digital cable boxes installed it took a long time getting things working till I noticed that he was hooking the TV to the component in connections on the cable box. Why a cable box has a set of component in connections I don’t know. But they were clearly labeled as input.

Time Warner is an incompetent bitch goddess, but if my experience is any guide the OP stands a good chance of getting reimbursed without too much trouble. When they set up the cable at my apartment we had them run the cable through the floor (at the landlord’s request), and in the process of drilling the hole the tech drilled clean though the center of a hot water pipe, robbing the right side of the entire building of heat for a day or two. When they sent a guy over for their due diligence on the landlord’s reimbursement claim, he just looked at the hole in the floor, saw that there was a new length of pipe under it, and signed off on the expense without any argument.

Get home last night to find the Time Warner HD DVR locked up. Pulled the power and let it reboot. Lost all of its settings, and all of my recorded programming. Called TW and they said they had never heard of that happening before. Really? Really?! 'Cause mostly I think they were full of crap. They are switching out the box, which will be the thrid I have gotten from them. One more time and I am prepared to deal with the cable card/tuning adapter mess that is using Tivo to get HD cable.