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[Arstechnica] Cable company overcharges might be even worse than you realized - Page 5

post #41 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dmitriy View Post

You sound really funny here, I'm only answering because you decided to attack me personaly. So you are saying I'm a kid, I'm an adult who makes enough money so that I can not even bother to remember how much I pay for internet. Also if living conditions and prices in my town become so bad that cable price becomes an issue I'm adult enough to buy a house in another town, I doubt it's going to be an issue though since most of my time is spent in making more money and not whining on the forum about cable company overcharging me for cable so I can waste more time on facebook.

And you should really let free market that you like so much figure things out but somehow you think more regulation will make it more free. No comments. You are definetly a genius here.

And I just realized if I worked instead of typing 10 posts like this I could have earned enough to pay for my cable bill so I'm not goong to reply anymore.

LOL, you're the one asking what an overcharge even is and then you go on a rant about how this supposedly doesn't matter to you. And at what point in this thread has anyone said they can't afford a connection, or that it is necessarily bothersome for them? People don't like getting hosed, whether they are impacted or not. But no, everyone doesn't have the same attitude as you do because they aren't liferulers who are making so much money they don't know what to do with it. Nice self-affirmation, bro. Maybe you wouldn't have been "attacked" if you didn't just came in to post something so useless, unoriginal and stale as what you initially posted.

And what happens in much of the US is that there IS a lack of free market, unless you consider a cartel to be a legitimate sort of association. You probably do, because then you can post cool edgy things about how much money you make to your libertarian friends on Facebook.

Of course you won't read this, you're too busy as you just said, and so rich you can just abandon where you're settled and buy a new house and have a guaranteed 7 figure salary job. Give me a break.
post #42 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Valor958 View Post

As a Tier 3 rep with Timer Warner, its it so easy to tell who in the responses actually bothered thinking about this whole situation, and who is jumping the hate train to be part of the cool kids club.

Like has been pointed out, the actual 'overcharges' customers may have received is next to nil, and most of that is when things happen, like equipment swaps from a TWC modem to a customer modem, and a billing code doesn't get removed to drop the lease fee. Or a customer changes their service, their promotion/campaign drops off since they don't actually qualify for it anymore (since they changed their service) and they get default pricing.. so their bill goes way up and they file a complaint. From what I see on a day to day basis, the issue with billing falls about 50/50 between customer expectations and employee error. TWC has no issues giving credits though, so its easily made up if a complaint is made.

As far as infrastructure complaints go... re-read your own statements and there's your answer. TWC has old lines in some areas, REALLY? Maybe it's because they've been around as a cable service provider for a very long time. So of course, a new provider comes in providing faster speeds for the same price on NEW lines they just put in... attached to updates nodes and a smaller service footprint. That also leads to an easier to manage and update network for that new provider. TWC is actively updating their network in basically every area. Nodes, Hubs, Headends... amps and taps, and the network updates fed through all this are being actively updated in almost all TWC areas. Kansas City region had this done a while back. Ohio is having this done in many areas. All of Wisconsin is having it done now. Kentucky/Indiana are having it done/is done. They start with a full digital conversion to remove analog signals and free up bandwidth... then they encrypt their signal like they used to, then they roll out the new speeds. If you want a worse example of aging network infrastructure, look at AT&T. I worked for them before TWC and they have regions with 80 year old copper still attempting to provide service. Plus, DSL is horribly limited compared to cable, so there's that.

If you feel like you're being wronged by a company, maybe you should call them and voice your complaints? If you have network trouble, make them fix it. If you don't feel like your support up til now has been sufficient, realize the average 'tech support' at many companies is barely able to work their own computer... so demand Tier 3 and they can and will help, since they actually ARE tech support.

I see nothing but the worst in all my calls, and a majority of the 'problems' i see are people not even remotely understanding how things actually work. Physical lines get damages, all the time, which will effect your service. Personally, I think that smaller, local ISPs could better serve their areas, but this is America and money talks. Big buys small, gets bigger.. rinse, repeat. Same exact thing happened with the Bell companies. Twice.

I actually ran a tier 3 team for Verizon for a while handling everything from FiOS to DSL and Phones and left during the east coast tech strike in 2011 so I have a decent understanding of where you are coming from with this. redface.gif

My only concern(and it is a small one) is to remember to focus on the customers experience rather than how it seems from behind the desk.
You make some very good points, but you sidestep the most important aspect of this discussion as well.
Namely not if its happening, but if its right.
And its not.

The general behavior of TWC, VZ, Comcast etc is pretty deplorable.
Thats not to say there haven't been improvements - like you said TWC has made some good steps - but its unfair to put the onus on the customer for the fact that your systems may have an issue.
The customer didnt bill themselves wrong and just as often as a call makes it to you because of user error it gets screened out beforehand and was a system error.
Now, again, im speaking from running a similar role in a different company so there will be some differences, but at the end of the day its really cruel to provide a service then blame your customers rather than just take responsibility for finding a solution.
I wish I had known that back then, because the job would have been a LOT easier if I focused on making sure I took pride in finding fixes for people rather than blaming them for things being broken no matter the reason. That takes an emotional toll on us. redface.gif
/preaching session
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post #43 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dmitriy View Post

I'm not a fan of cable companies but who the hell decides what an overcharge is? Don't like it don't pay for it.

From a basic standpoint...sure dont buy things that are too expensive. However, TV, Internet and phone are not considered luxuries but are instead utilities. A long long time ago these companies said to the govt that they wanted to setup shop and sell these utility services but would only do so with little to no competition. The reason being the cost of laying the infrastructure was initially enormous and would only be "worth it" should they have a very good chance (basically 100% chance) to succeed and make money. So they where then each granted parts of the country to do business in without competition. This is why you dont have more than 1 major cable company in a given area.

Fast forward to today and "business is good". They made a ton of money and got to a point where they are so far ahead of any other company that almost no company can dream of starting competing business (with the exception of maybe a Verizon and Google...and even these are not that widespread by comparison). They can also charge whatever they want and do whatever they want because hey, who else are you gonna get the same service from? When I got new service they didnt bother to activate the 6 months of HBO that I was entitled to...never got resolved (after hours on the phone trying). They have multiple times charged me for stuff they shouldnt and/or not provided a service they should. Zero repercussions.

We as a nation have some of the most expensive and slowest internet of the 1st world countries. Until this year my internet on T mobile 4G was faster than my comcrap home internet by about 3x (80Mb/s vs 25Mb/s), and Tmobile was charging me $50/mo and that internet connection also came with phone service. Comcast was charging me about $70 just for internet. Granted Im making a broad comparison.

The reality is the few million they are finding the cable companies stole is likely just the tip of the iceberg.
post #44 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zer0CoolX View Post

From a basic standpoint...sure dont buy things that are too expensive. However, TV, Internet and phone are not considered luxuries but are instead utilities. A long long time ago these companies said to the govt that they wanted to setup shop and sell these utility services but would only do so with little to no competition. The reason being the cost of laying the infrastructure was initially enormous and would only be "worth it" should they have a very good chance (basically 100% chance) to succeed and make money. So they where then each granted parts of the country to do business in without competition. This is why you dont have more than 1 major cable company in a given area.

Fast forward to today and "business is good". They made a ton of money and got to a point where they are so far ahead of any other company that almost no company can dream of starting competing business (with the exception of maybe a Verizon and Google...and even these are not that widespread by comparison). They can also charge whatever they want and do whatever they want because hey, who else are you gonna get the same service from? When I got new service they didnt bother to activate the 6 months of HBO that I was entitled to...never got resolved (after hours on the phone trying). They have multiple times charged me for stuff they shouldnt and/or not provided a service they should. Zero repercussions.

We as a nation have some of the most expensive and slowest internet of the 1st world countries. Until this year my internet on T mobile 4G was faster than my comcrap home internet by about 3x (80Mb/s vs 25Mb/s), and Tmobile was charging me $50/mo and that internet connection also came with phone service. Comcast was charging me about $70 just for internet. Granted Im making a broad comparison.

The reality is the few million they are finding the cable companies stole is likely just the tip of the iceberg.

We also happen to be the largest and most populated first world country, and you very clearly stated how expensive it was to setup the cable network in the first place. Other countries of this size can only dream of having the same speed and coverage. So bottom line we are not doing so bad. Next if cable company overcharges you for the service you don't receive it is not something that Congress should spend it's time on. If it's single event that you can't resolve with their support you can go to small claims court. If it happens on wide scale it's up to police or FBI to investigate. Also notice how quickly this thread moved from notion of overcharging as charging for something a person didn't want or didn't get to overall how expensive channel packages are. My post was referring to the general 'expensive' arguments.
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post #45 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drake87 View Post

I get charged a $5 fee to talk to a person at Charter. In fact, when their online bill pay was down, as was the automated phone payment as well, I had to speak to a customer service rep. They charged me that fee to make a payment, on top of paying my monthly bill. There is a very good reason why people hate you.
Two things here. First, the reason for a live agent fee makes sense to the big wigs on paper. In the case of an outage like that where a live agent was the only choice, the fee was also usually waived. Second, that is Charter, and TWC has not done that in a while. Now, post merger who knows where that will go, but I would be doubtful they would bring back something so many people hated.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilWrir View Post

I actually ran a tier 3 team for Verizon for a while handling everything from FiOS to DSL and Phones and left during the east coast tech strike in 2011 so I have a decent understanding of where you are coming from with this. redface.gif

My only concern(and it is a small one) is to remember to focus on the customers experience rather than how it seems from behind the desk.
You make some very good points, but you sidestep the most important aspect of this discussion as well.
Namely not if its happening, but if its right.
And its not.

The general behavior of TWC, VZ, Comcast etc is pretty deplorable.
Thats not to say there haven't been improvements - like you said TWC has made some good steps - but its unfair to put the onus on the customer for the fact that your systems may have an issue.
The customer didnt bill themselves wrong and just as often as a call makes it to you because of user error it gets screened out beforehand and was a system error.
Now, again, im speaking from running a similar role in a different company so there will be some differences, but at the end of the day its really cruel to provide a service then blame your customers rather than just take responsibility for finding a solution.
I wish I had known that back then, because the job would have been a LOT easier if I focused on making sure I took pride in finding fixes for people rather than blaming them for things being broken no matter the reason. That takes an emotional toll on us. redface.gif
/preaching session

I get that you've had a similar experience, but I think you may have misunderstood some points I made. When I'm working, I don't blame custs even when it is 100% their fault. Custs do manage to mess things up an awful lot and there is no one else to fault but them. In those situations, I act like I'm talking to an upset child and reassure them while providing the best solution possible. The situations where it is no ones fault, but they want to blame someone, are the most common though. Weather related line damage, animal damage, age of equipment, power surges, environmental interference (wifi issues), et al are no ones fault, but they want to blame TWC because they just don't care. Thats fine, doesn't change anything really, and I still find and fix the problem like most of Tier 3. We don't focus on the fault, since it matters less than the cause. A cause has a solution, a fault is just somewhere to place blame.

With regards to the 'systems having an issue', that is a more broad statement then it appears. The systems rarely have an actual issue. What has happened, especially over recent months and the past year really, is that TWC at least is standardizing many billing and charge codes. Here is where the 'system' is viewed to have a problem since a failed code update doesn't take place when it should, or a less than knowledgeable rep uses the wrong code, which is the human factor present in every business everywhere. In my experience and seeing reports on these issues internally, when they are noticed, we run a report on all effected accounts and apply the necessary credit and correct the source of the issue. The issue at present was actually present for only a 1 month billing cycle at TWC, but over several months at Charter as I understand it. It was also related to billing code standardization as I mentioned. This is not some special circumstance and every company sees it happen, but since its a telecom company and with the current state of telecom angst in the US, its easy to jump on the bandwagon and call it 'customer abuse' and the like. Those feelings are also coming from the same mentality of people who say that a wireline service should NEVER have an outage in 'this day and age', and that we should 'do something about all the animals chewing the lines'. I've had numerous people, in complete sincerity, suggest coating our lines in poison to prevent animals from getting on them.

I completely understand all sides of this situation, and all sides are at least partially correct. The problem is that maybe 1% of each side is willing to see any other perspective, because human. So, I really don't care so long as I do the best in my ability to improve all situations I am able to.

I'd also like to point out that while I see a fairly reasonable amount of 'i'm a twc customer and i'm upset' posts in various threads, not a one has bothered to ask for help or pm me. Someone who is in a position to help and offering. Again, proving my point on the 'sit and complain' mentality that is all too common in modern society. Heck, I was just interviewed by the local news about the same mentality with how it relates to the huge drug problem in Cincinnati since I constantly stand up and report what I see, and complain when the police don't act. I live my word people, if you're in my service area, say something and I'll do my best. But I only work at TWC until the 14th of July, so if you need help, ask now. I'm getting a much better paying job right next to my house, so bye bye TWC for me.
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post #46 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dmitriy View Post

We also happen to be the largest and most populated first world country, and you very clearly stated how expensive it was to setup the cable network in the first place. Other countries of this size can only dream of having the same speed and coverage. So bottom line we are not doing so bad. Next if cable company overcharges you for the service you don't receive it is not something that Congress should spend it's time on. If it's single event that you can't resolve with their support you can go to small claims court. If it happens on wide scale it's up to police or FBI to investigate. Also notice how quickly this thread moved from notion of overcharging as charging for something a person didn't want or didn't get to overall how expensive channel packages are. My post was referring to the general 'expensive' arguments.

^This

Most of the time people complain they're paying for something they're not getting, is because they have an unresolved signal issue, and didn't actually report the issue. Channels getting an intermittent black screen, pixelization, audio stuttering, or even an obvious error code will be routinely ignored because people just don't want to call in. They also expect the provider to just 'know' when a signal issue is present. Saying that is fine, since we have all the tools to know when an individual is having an issue, but thinking about it proves it it completely unrealistic to monitor each individuals service in real time 24/7 to proactively respond. Providers do this on the area level though, which is why they are aware of area signal issues and outages and have line techs working before most people even call in to report trouble.
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post #47 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Valor958 View Post

^This

Most of the time people complain they're paying for something they're not getting, is because they have an unresolved signal issue, and didn't actually report the issue. Channels getting an intermittent black screen, pixelization, audio stuttering, or even an obvious error code will be routinely ignored because people just don't want to call in. They also expect the provider to just 'know' when a signal issue is present. Saying that is fine, since we have all the tools to know when an individual is having an issue, but thinking about it proves it it completely unrealistic to monitor each individuals service in real time 24/7 to proactively respond. Providers do this on the area level though, which is why they are aware of area signal issues and outages and have line techs working before most people even call in to report trouble.

A few of my channels are often pixelated and have skipping sound. I get an error that prevents me from renting on-demand about 25% of the time. I've called a number of times. They sent a guy out to my place twice. Didn't fix it. Now when I call they tell me "I'll send your report to the engineers" and I never hear back. They give zero fs. mad.gif
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post #48 of 53
Cut the cord roughly two years ago and couldn't be happier. Got super tired of seeing random service fees or rental fees that somehow managed to get higher and higher every month and other crap like that that pushed the monthly DirecTV bill to over $150. And that's for a package that doesn't include HBO or any other premium channels.

Now I just subscribe to Netflix, Hulu, and WWE Network. Works out to a little over $30 a month. I don't miss cable/satellite one bit.
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post #49 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrip541 View Post

A few of my channels are often pixelated and have skipping sound. I get an error that prevents me from renting on-demand about 25% of the time. I've called a number of times. They sent a guy out to my place twice. Didn't fix it. Now when I call they tell me "I'll send your report to the engineers" and I never hear back. They give zero fs. mad.gif

Sounds like you were talking to Tier1 overseas with those responses. What you have described is a signal issue. You may have a borderline out of range power level, but assuming they checked that as they should, and everything looks normal, then you have interference. The issue with interference is that if it doesn't show on our charts with respect to the signal to noise ratio we see, you likely have specific frequencies that are experiencing interference, which is harder to detect aside from looking at the evidence. A tech on site has tools to see all frequency ranges however, and should be able to spot the issue.

What I would normally ask, is how long you've been having the issue and if you had satellite before TWC. Satellite providers use different frequency ranges than cable providers, and their installers tend to use a different quality coax with less shielding, since their signal doesn't need it. That would require us to swap out existing coax and check all fittings out to the tap to find the issue.

Not sure where you live, but if you want me to see if I can find the source of the issue, PM me. I can look at accounts in Ohio, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Kansas, Pennsylvania (some), and Indiana.
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post #50 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Valor958 View Post

Sounds like you were talking to Tier1 overseas with those responses. What you have described is a signal issue. You may have a borderline out of range power level, but assuming they checked that as they should, and everything looks normal, then you have interference. The issue with interference is that if it doesn't show on our charts with respect to the signal to noise ratio we see, you likely have specific frequencies that are experiencing interference, which is harder to detect aside from looking at the evidence. A tech on site has tools to see all frequency ranges however, and should be able to spot the issue.

What I would normally ask, is how long you've been having the issue and if you had satellite before TWC. Satellite providers use different frequency ranges than cable providers, and their installers tend to use a different quality coax with less shielding, since their signal doesn't need it. That would require us to swap out existing coax and check all fittings out to the tap to find the issue.

Not sure where you live, but if you want me to see if I can find the source of the issue, PM me. I can look at accounts in Ohio, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Kansas, Pennsylvania (some), and Indiana.

Isn't that a problem? Why are these technical issues being routed to Tier1 services when they can't help with the problem? It seems odd that he has to come to a website like overclock.net, and it had to be the off chance that you spotted his issue, that maybe he can now get some real help.
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Overclock.net › Forums › Industry News › Technology and Science News › [Arstechnica] Cable company overcharges might be even worse than you realized