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Charter Communications - Charter nightmare!
Posted on Monday, March 7th, 2011 at 4:52pm CST by e06c945a
Product: Charter Communications
Company: Charter Communications
The reason I was ordering cable service in the first place is that my daughter is related to a local star college athlete (thats on TV a LOT) and that she is a young golfer with aspirations of playing on the LPGA tour someday, so I wanted to get the Golf Channel for her. The website said that it cost $29.99 a month for the first year for EXTENDED Basic cable, which the website clearly stated (graphics & all) that the Golf Channel was indeed included.
My nightmare with Charter began when I first called customer service to ask about a discrepancy on their website when I was trying to order service. The discrepancy was that the site said Extended Basic, but when I was trying to check out, it only said Basic on the checkout page. After going through the gauntlet of automated phone routing, I was naturally placed in the Twilight Zone of customer service called, the Queue. After enduring being on hold, captive to the hold music/messages for an unacceptable amount of time, the agent/rep/trainee from a 3rd world country finally chimed in.
I explained the confusion and just wanted to be sure of TWO simple things one, that I was going to receive EXTENDED Basic service for $29.99, and two, that it did include Golf Channel. I was quickly told that Extended Basic (EB) definitely had Golf Channel (GC). He then took a long time trying to figure out if I was getting the right package, but couldnt, so I was transferred to a supervisor (queue more hold hell). The supervisor confirmed that EB DID have GC, but as far as the website giving me the correct package, they couldnt figure it out either, didnt want to be bothered anymore and settled for telling me, You can always work it out with Customer Service later. Really? I spent 75 minutes on the phone for nothing? I should have known right then
But, being that I wanted to get her the GC and the price was semi-ok, I ordered it. Fortunately, I was signed up for EB. I got scheduled for installation, and on that day the installer comes. First, I asked him BEFORE anything was discussed, Is it EB and is GC on it?. The answers were Yes & Yes. I said, Great, lets get in going then!.
We go out to the giant missile silo thats been taking up space in our yard and has been an eyesore for many years now, only to discover that he doesnt even have the key/tool to open it. So he proceeds to break into it, only to discover that it was completely empty!!! This huge thing thats been in my way all this time was to cover a little wire tip peeking out of the dirt at the bottom of the hole. Brilliant, thanks.
At this time, Im assuming that hed go to his truck, grab the appropriate stuff, and hook it up. Silly me. Nope, Charter would have to schedule someone to come dig up my yard (and even more of my neighbors yard) and run a new (old) cable. I must point out that it wasnt a fiber-optic line or anything were talking OLD school cable like when cable was king like totally obsolete...
After a COUPLE OF WEEKS passed, I called to see why nothing has been done yet. After the agony of dealing with the routing and queue hurdle again (oh, and constantly having to answer verification questions because reps are too stupid to tell the supervisor that they have already verified you), the rep informs me that the work was never even scheduled! Lame So, being patient, I wait as she schedules the work to be done about another week later. Getting a little frustrated now. But I once again confirmed that GC was included, which softened the pain.
The day arrives for the yards to be dug up and an obsolete line to be replaced. I hear them pull up, so I go outside to greet them. I dont know if youve seen the movie Men In Black, but the man in charge seemed eerily like Edgar. I mean, I thought I was in back-woods Mississippi for a minute until I saw his assistants they spoke no English and by their mannerisms, I highly suspect their immigration status. I almost just went back inside, but seeing the collective lack of IQ power between these three, I thought I should stick around. Im glad I did
After turning the map right-side up for him, he proceeded to tell me how he was going to dig from the missile silo to my house. The problem is, that was extremely incorrect and I pointed out where they were supposed to dig TO and FROM and WHY (shouldnt I get a supervisors salary for this?) I didnt go back inside until I was semi-confident that they knew what to do and checked up on them frequently, including cancelling appointments and other plans.
Somehow, they eventually finished. By now, if you can assume that Charter didnt schedule me for the installation to be completed give yourself a gold star! Of course not. I called days later only to find this out. I have no idea why I didnt listen to the screaming voices telling me to run, but I rescheduled the installation completion anyway. (youre keeping track of time I hope)
The blessed day arrives that were actually supposed to get a picture! The installer arrives and does his thing. Unbelievably, he comes to the door with box in hand to hook it up. I thought to myself, wow, maybe itll all be better now, that it all was just a misunderstanding and I just slipped through the cracks of fine customer service. HA!! Yea, rightwhat was I thinking it gets worse MUCH worse
After he gets the signal into the house, I am introduced to The Catch. Every deal these days has one this one was, I would only get a few channels unless I pay an extra $5 a month for a box (didnt cable ALWAYS come with a box?), PER ROOM. WTF? No guide and minimal channels unless I rent 2 boxes? VERY dishonest! But, being a loving dad and not wanting to think that I wasted all of that time and inconvenience for nothing, I agreed. Then guess what
A fuzzy, grainy picture! Not clear and sharp as it should be. After the installer talked to whoever was on the other end of his push-to-talk phone, I was informed theyre working on it & itll be cleared up soon
He then proceeds to explain how to use the remote, guide, etc. I pick up the remote after the box had finished doing its thing & immediately looked for the Golf Channel (Remember the GC?) so I could see the look of glee on my daughters face. Unfortunately, the look went from glee, to anticipation, to an anxious smile, to a nervous smirk, to puzzled, to a frown, to complete sadness as she shuffled out of the room. THERE IS NO FRIGGING GOLF CHANNEL!!! I literally confirmed it with at least SIX different people before it was connected & its not f**king there!!! Ok, Im a VERY mellow person but now, Im angry WTF?! Again, yada yada on the push-to-talk phone, but of course, his final answer was the company motto, You can always work it out with Customer Service later. Are they kidding???
Of course I immediately called Charter after he left, went through the gauntlet of getting to a rep, and demanded to know why, after I confirmed with them many times that the ONE main channel that we were going through all of this aggravation for was included, that is was NOT available and why the picture was so poor! Another hour on the phone, more hold torture and 2 people later, I had to get off the phone to make dinner, but demanded that someone from the corporate office call me asap and I also told them to note my account that Im not paying anything when the first bill comes UNTIL the service is working properly. If you guessed that NOBODY ever called, you get another gold star! If you guessed that the first bill was much higher than I was told it would be, take two.
Since this description is already getting too long, Ill shorten the next couple of months by saying that I spent countless hours on the phone and online with many reps and supervisors at LEAST once every week, asking why we didnt have the GC and why the picture was still having issues. I received absolutely no contact or results in return except for one time. (I hope that youre still keeping track of time if I even got minimum wage for the time wasted (and counting) on Charter, I could afford a nice DisneyWorld vacation)
One day in the middle of this time period that I was making all of these calls, a repair rep actually set up a repair appointment, and after waiting for that, the day arrives. The appointment was for between 1 & 6pm, yet guess who comes knocking at our door in the morning? A different service rep holding a box HOURS before anyone was supposed to come. When I asked, Oh, are you going to swap one out to see if its the box?, he looked at me all perplexed-like and said, and I quote, Huh? After repeating myself, he asked me, You already have service? After trying to read his clipboard, he surmised that he didnt go to the house that he called (yea no kidding, a warning would have been nice).
I stood there for a minute in shock & disbelief. Where do they get these people from? I mean, the company-widespread ignorance, incompetence and downright stupidity of the employees and contractors of Charter Communications is mind boggling! It astonishes me that they are a functioning business. Of all the highly qualified people in the world looking for work, this company is stocked to the brim with idiots who probably drool at random.
Anyway, he looked at the picture in both rooms and concurred that the picture was not up to par and would be back. Gold star time did he come back? Good guess, of course not! But he did call briefly for a few seconds and asked if it was better, I said, No, he said hed call back. Ok, double gold star time, did he call back? All together now. OF COURSE NOT! Wasnt that fun?
So, after calling several more times about it (I already gave up on the GC, I just wanted a clear picture at this point). Why pay $40 a month for a crappy picture when the free broadcast picture was better? Which reminds me, every time I called in to ask about when I was going to get my service working properly, they kept asking me about my bill. Every time they asked about my bill, I repeated that I would be more than happy to pay it, even ahead of schedule, IF they FIXED it. They did give me a couple of credits, half of which were erroneous charges in the first place! Gold star time do you think that they ever scheduled an appointment to fix it? Just take the star, you know the answer
One night as I was falling asleep, the picture went black. It was late, so I called the next morning to let them know. Thats when I was informed that I was temporarily shut off for non-payment. Pay attention as this is another one of their routines
I had the service for barely THREE (3) months, billed at $40 a month ($30 + $10 for 2 boxes). Ok, lets do the math $40 x 3 =.. $120 (Im not including the 4/5 bucks for taxes, etc). Over the 3 months of phone calls, I was given about $80-$90 in credits total, including the charges that were erroneous. That leaves approximately $40 owed. So simply put, 3 months for $120, $80+ credited, about $40 due, (gold star time)I was shut off for non-payment!! With a balance of $147+ AFTER the credits!!! What kind of math is this?! So, not only cant the installers do their jobs, the reps cant make appointments and repair cant repair but now billing cant freakin count! The incompetence is overwhelming. How is my bill $100+ more than would be due WITHOUT the credits? Whatever you do, dont ask them why youll smell the last few brain cells smolder through the phone as they try to sound intelligent when they dont have a clue.
I run the phone/hold/queue/rep/supervisor gauntlet again and they said that it can go back on if we made an arrangement. I asked, How long will you give your crew to fix the problem?. They replied, February 8th. Mind you, this started way back around Halloween. I said fine, if they come fix it by then, Ill pay what is OWED. The service was back on. Double Gold Star time!! Did they come fix it and did they wait until the 8th for payment? All together now. Of Course Not!.
Guess what day they shut it off again, even though we had a binding agreement? Feb. 4th! Five days early! (fixed and paid by 8th or off on 9th) was the agreement. I endure though the now monotonous phone/hold/queue/rep/supervisor gauntlet yet again (this must be over 20 times now). I immediately demand a manager (though you have to go through a supervisor first) and eventually got one who claimed to be one. At this point, I think to myself, ok, now this is a MANAGER theyll figure it out. Take a gold star you know it didnt get resolved actually, take a handful at this point you get it But hold on, were not done and it gets more confusing
The manager tells me that he can turn it on if I pay $120+ FIRST, and he would credit it on my bill. I asked why the other credits didnt lower my balance and also why he couldnt just reverse the charges instead of crediting me. Apparently, their software people arent too bright either
I informed him that I have stated since day one that I will gladly pay any LEGITMATE charges AFTER the service is working properly. He said that he couldnt schedule an appointment since I was disconnected for non-payment, even though Im the one constantly contacting them for it to get fixed & the credits make my account current. I stated that if they made even any attempt to provide anything resembling service, I wouldnt have withheld payment in the first place. I asked why the bill was so high since I have credits and he stated that credits dont post until the following month. So, they see that I barely owe anything at all, yet they cant turn it on and fix it. Pathetic.
To be clear, I only withheld the $40 because they took a month to get it installed, tore up the neighbors yard, we were lied to many, MANY times, they wont FIX the freakin thing, they overcharged, etc. I even asked him, If you order a steak and get a cold, nasty burger on a soggy bun, would you pay for it? He replied, No.. I asked how they expected me to pay them anything when they have not done one single thing right. Not once. I even pointed out that I saved them money by telling Edgar where to dig so they wouldnt have to do it again! No reply. I asked, How can I owe $140+, AFTER all of these credits, when its barely been only THREE months?. No reply. I asked why I had an arrangement for Feb 8th and it was shut off on the 4th no reply. I asked again, You know I owe very little and you offered to even credit that if I paid first. Im not paying $128 so you can credit it later. Are you or are you not going to fix my picture?. We cant without payment. But I dont owe that much.. I know.. Its like a bad version of Whos on First from Abbott and Costello I asked him one last time if he would resolve the situation fairly he said Not without payment. I said, Then Im done. Ive been more than patient, the hell with Charter.
Heres the cherry on the icing on the cake Just a couple of days later, 2 days BEFORE my Feb. 8th agreement, I get another bill guess how much. $478 and 1 cent!!! AAUURRGGHH!!!! So, I owed $40 which they were going to credit anyhow, but then they said I owed $140+ even though I had most of that in credits (some of which were false charges), but they wanted $120+ to turn it on and schedule another repair appointment, yet 2 days later, are my credits posted? NO! I get a freakin bill for $478 and NOBODY contacting me to resolve it. These people should be rounded up and removed from society theyre a cancer
Well, thats my experience with Charter, one big miserable experience to say the least. I didnt even mention minor occurrences of their ineptness. They may ignore customers, but lets see how fast they jump when my experience is
filed as formal complaints from the BBB to the FCC,
filed as consumer complaints on every single relevant website,
posted online from blogs to newsletters to craigslist to Facebook and Twitter,
posted online as a youtube video
submitted as press releases that will reach the eyes of many a journalist, as well as come up on the first pages of search engines for years to come,
filed as a lawsuit, hopefully a class action.
Oh, fyi its Feb 18th its STLL not resolved. This letter may still grow a bit
UPDATE 3/7/11: After sending this letter to Charters corporate headquarters, I was contacted by someone on a Saturday while I was out, but they did call back on Monday. Even though I was busy and the thought of talking to another person from Charter sickened me, I was EXTREMELY polite and cordial (at least I didnt have to go through the automation/hold hell). After chatting a bit about how our area is still in the dark ages technologically, he stated that he was in a similar situation and had no high speed internet either. So, being the kind person that I am, I told him of a great product that I found that allows me to have high speed access basically anywhere and offered to send him a link that I created to help others out that had similar woes and where he could get it for free with free activation and free shipping. I thought I was being pretty damn nice about everything. He then stuttered, Er, um, I just found out two days ago that were being upgraded next month. Yea, right
I even tried to lighten the mood even more by joking about how the nightmare wasnt over. I informed him that Ive been contacted THREE times already demanding that I return the equipment, weeks AFTER I already returned the equipment, or Id have to pay hundreds of dollars. He replied assuring me that the equipment had indeed been returned and that the excessive fees were removed.
I thought I was mere seconds from being able to awaken from this horrible dream and asked if my account was now closed, to which he replied, NO. I asked why it wasnt and he coldly stated, Because you owe $92 (or $97, I forget). Are you SERIOUS? I asked. Yes, he said.
I was literally in shock. I asked him how on earth, he had the nerve to expect me to pay for services that were never properly provided (which was verified by the installer and later by a technician) and couldnt provide, for all of our inconveniences, for saving them from digging in the wrong place, for the endless hours on the phone, for not having the station that we were promised in the first place, etc., etc. I asked him if he even read this letter. Youll never guess what his reason was for not crediting the lousy ninety-something bucks
He says, Because you didnt give us the opportunity to repair it. WHAT???!!! Didnt give them the opportunity???!!! Who the hell was I talking to when it was installed? Who the hell was I talking to that came into the house and verified it and was SUPPOSED to fix it, but never did? Who the hell did I talk to the dozen or so times that I called? He then said that I made ONE appointment which was canceled. AAUURRGGHH!!! I never canceled ANYTHING. Maybe the idiot that showed up at the wrong house at the wrong time that never came back wrote it as that to cover his own ass for being stupid, but I have been screaming for them to fix it.
I told him that he was flat-out lying to me and that after all of the time Ive WASTED, all of the extreme crap theyve put me through and the money I saved them by not letting Lurch dig up the wrong area, the LEAST they could do was credit the paltry amount and close the account. He refused. I then started getting angry and again pointed out that my service was never properly installed and asked him if 90 lousy bucks was really worth the massive amount of bad publicity (and embarrassment), the time & employee hours (and embarrassment) of answering formal complaints, the loss in revenue from losing present and potential customers due to my experience, as well as the legal hours and fees to answer my lawsuit (that I guess Ill have to file now). I assume that just losing just one customer or paying their attorney for even one hour will cost em more than the 90 bucks theyre trying to get from me. I asked, Is that your FINAL answer? He said, Yes. I said, The gloves are off and ended the conversation. So be it