Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Awww, darn. I was hoping they'd resist more.

Just got an IM from my wife:

It pays to bitch, just got off phone w/Charter corporate, they're going to extend promo for 12 mos, waive 1 DVR fee, so total will be $99 for 12 mos. And he apologized.

I'm still considering whether to submit complaints to the BBB and other like institutions.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Clearly, we are not the only ones who feel this way...

My own personal Internet Oracle, dustbunny, has just sent me this: Confirmed: Charter Lies To Their Customers.

dustbunny also gave me some great links for formally registering complaints. Now I'll have something to do tomorrow evening.

The story thus far...

Let me introduce myself.

My wife and I live northwest of metro Boston in Pepperell, MA. We have lived here since 1999. In all that time, our cable services have been provided by Charter Communications.

At first, we had no complaints about the service, but ever since about two years ago, they have slowly been nickel-and-diming us every other month or so. "We've upgraded our systems, so your monthly bill has gone up." Every two or three months, we would have another pay hike.

Eventually, our monthly bill reached $114 or so dollars. We had had enough.

My wife called Charter about two months ago, and tried to talk to someone about doing something to reduce our monthly bill. The first person she talked to, after a good deal of back-and-forth, found her a promotional offer whereby we could keep our current services and bring our bill down to $87.99 per month. Because I was of the mind to just cancel cable and move our dollars to NetFlix, my wife asked the person if she could discuss the new price with me overnight and still be able to call back the next day and get the same package. She was assured in no uncertain terms that she would.

That was Lie #1, because when she called back the next day, the representative who took the call could not find the offer in the system. Four phone calls later over the next two days finally got us someone who told us that they did know of the promotional offer in the system and would sign us up for it. I agreed because going from $114 per month to $88 per month seemed like a good deal to me. Every little bit helps.

One month goes by. Our bill arrives. $81.91 is the total. From what I can tell, the difference was due to the promotion being pro-rated because we didn't start at the beginning of the billing cycle. All seems good.

The next month's bill, this month, arrives. $115.15. WTF? What happened to our $87.99? This would be Lie #2.

So, my wife called their customer service number. She tried to explain the situation to the first person she spoke to, who said they were going to transfer her to a supervisor. After holding for about a minute, the silence gives way to dialtone. We'd been hung up on. Maybe they'd had technical difficulties and we'd been accidentally dis-connect, but later behaviors have me convinced that this was Lie #3.

My wife's second phone call ended in much the same way. "Let me transfer you to a supervisor." One minute later; dialtone.

By now, we are more than a little upset. Our third phone call connected us to one April ____. For now, I'm not going to give her last name, but she did give it to us. She transfered us to her "supervisor", a Dan who refused to give us his last name, citing company policy, but did give us an employee ID of "RFN". Dan refused to discuss the matter, probably due to his broken English, and insisted on simply reading back to us the charges from our current bill. I admit I got a bit heated when he insisted that he was the highest ranking supervisor there that night and that his supervisor didn't take calls, and I used some harsh language in frustration over that obvious inconsistency. His reply was to state that he didn't have to tolerate such language and he hung up on me. I'm calling that illogic Lie #5. Lie #4 was the bit about company policy regarding last names. Either April was breaking company policy, or Dan was feeding us a line.

At this point, we are incensed. My wife calls Charter's Corporate HQ and, using the spell by name feature in their voicejail, she leaves a message for Neil Smit, CEO. She promises me that Neil will know her name quite well by EOB tomorrow. My wife takes a few deep breaths and says that she's going to try again.

Call #4 ends much like calls #1 and #2. There is a bit more detail to this call, but my wife is reading to the kids right now, and I'll have to confer with her to relate this call later. But, I do believe we'll have another Lie to add to The List.

Call #5 nets her Devon, who transfered her to Steven, who gives her an employee ID of 12771. How's that? I thought their employee IDs were three characters? That's right, Lie #6. No employee ID for you!

However, I'm likely to believe Steven, as he patiently listened to my wife, and after a wee bit of back-and-forth, promised us he would contact the Corporate Office and have a "Marla" get back to us within 48 hours.

Stay tuned.