Sunday, September 7, 2014

How To Chase Your Cable Customer Away By A Thousand Paper Cuts

Dear Bright House Cable Provider,

We have to tell you how pleased we are with our new cable TV and Internet service. We now have the best looking HD picture, with no digital dropouts or lost signals, and the Internet is blazingly fast.

Unfortunately for you, we had to move to Verizon FIOS to achieve this multi-media bliss. We were a long time subscriber to your cable service. It would have been our ten year anniversary in a few months, but alas, we couldn't wait. You see, you finally broke our poor camel's back with the last straw, and so like any good consumer with options, we exercised them and moved to your competitor's product.

When we tweeted our decision to change cable providers, we copied your @BrightHouse handle. The service rep there tried their best to "help" us, but it was too late, much too late. We couldn't recount to them the myriad of straws that lead to this decision in just 140 characters at a time. But never fear, we will share them with you here in all their glorious detail.
  • The final straw came about as the result of repeated Internet interruptions which we will get to in the next item. This last straw is CUSTOMER SUPPORT! We called your customer support on a Saturday morning after what was the umpteenth Internet interruption. We were able to navigate through the maze of verbal phone menus to actually talk to a live person. We asked them why our Internet kept going out and our cable modem recycling itself. We were promptly told that they could NOT in anyway interrogate the modem to see why it was recycling. We challenged this. We have worked with prior tech support and they could easily see the modem status and make changes to various settings. All she could "offer" us was the much dreaded "SEND SOMEONE OUT" response. You know the response, where they send a tech out to try and catch an intermittent problem, only to tell you NO TROUBLE FOUND. Thanks a lot!

    But while we were debating the next steps, the phone connection was dropped. We waited 10 minutes for the support person to call us back. No call, so we attempted to contact support again, but THIS TIME, we were hopelessly lost in the verbal maze of the phone menu system. Over and over again, we were told to "try to ask in a different way" for what we needed done. And done we were. Over and done. No more. That's it. The camel had died. We drove over to the Verizon FIOS store.

  • As mentioned above we had experienced a rash of Internet interruptions. My wife and I keep regular hours "playing" on the Internet. That Friday evening, my wife and her "team" were playing World Of Warcraft and running "raids". Three times in about 90 minutes, she turned to me and asked if the Internet was still up. I poked the browser link to BayNews9 website (great site by the way) and yes, it was not responding. I looked down under my desk where the cable modem sits and sure enough, all the lights flashed out and it started its relighting dance, top light flashes then goes steady, next light flashes then steady, and so on until all lights are solid and the middle two turn blue. 3 times in 90 minutes. This is not much of a big deal for me. I just wait until the modem comes back and then click refresh to bring up the blog page I might be reading, but for my wife, this is catastrophic. She is in the middle of game play. She has to log back in, reconnect, and HOPE she is not dropped out of the raid she was in. Very frustrating for her, indeed.

    So, slow forward to the next morning, the last straw morning, and sure enough, within a single hour's time, we lost Internet twice. Who-du-thunkit? So I called technical support, but you know how that ended. The last straw dropped.

  • Ok, enough about Internet problems. It's the Internet. Bit happens. Surely the "cable" company can provide TV that is satisfactory. It's only TV. What can go wrong? Plenty.

  • The worse problem with our cable TV service was intermittent loss of picture. In the prior release of the cable box software, this would present itself as a large pattern of pixelation squares in an otherwise frozen image on the screen. In this latest set of cable box software, the image freezes, but the audio continues. This happens on various channels at various times with no rhyme or reason. It even happens during DVR recorded programs (which is the bulk of our TV viewing). There is even a technical phrase for this issue: "digital dropouts". Occasionally, rarely, entire channels would be unavailable for viewing, but again, this was rare. And how are we supposed to get this problem fixed? This seems to be a signal strength or feed issue. Oh, ya, they'll SEND SOMEONE OUT. Right.

  • The next set of problems was with the actual cable box itself. Our first box had a hard drive crash and so the SOMEONE-OUT guy brought us a new one. Our entire DVR schedule was lost, and we had to reconstruct it by hand. This was not fun. The "new" (refurbished) box worked mostly, but it had its annoying quirks. Two things. About every 30 days or so, we'd lose audio completely when viewing live programming. Sometimes it would cut in and out like they were talking in the movie WHEN MARS ATTACKS ("ack ack ack"), but mostly it would cut out completely. This required pulling the plug and power cycling the cable box (hard reboot). Sometimes we'd have to do this twice in the same week, and then it would be good for awhile. 

  • The other cable box problem had the same solution. Power cycle the damn box. This problem was during DVR playback. About every other month, after selecting a program to play back (recall, this is the bulk of our dedicated TV viewing), the entire cable box would freeze up showing black screen with the playback progress bar frozen at the bottom of the screen. Whenever this happened, we'd power cycle the box and then afterwards, we could go back to the DVR playback section and play our intended program.

    This was a nuisance, but the only alternative for these cable box problems was to have our "old" cable box replaced again, and we'd have to start over rebuilding our DVR recording list.
  • The last issue is more a business process problem. It seems our neighbor had problems consistently paying their cable bill. And so you sent out a technician out to "cut their service", but in the process of doing so, YOU TURNED OFF OUR SERVICE INSTEAD. This happened to us not once, but TWICE over the past ten years. Both times the tech on the ladder cut the service and boogied out of the neighborhood before we could reach his truck to suggest he turned off the wrong customer. So we had to call "tech support" to have our paid up service turned back on. The first time you made us wait until the next day before you restored our service. Luckily the second time, we were able to shame your tech support to get someone out right away to fix YOUR MISTAKE. We even requested a follow up by management to fix this business process issue so that it would never happen again. Our concern went up the hierarchy with promises of follow ups and fixes, but eventually it reached a level where it floated out of sight and out of your collective mind. We never felt this problem was satisfactorily resolved. It remained a lingering doubt.
So, you see, this has been a long and painful journey from dedicated customer to being chased away by a thousand paper cuts of flaky service: cable TV, Internet, and customer support.

Yours no longer,

Former Subscriber

No comments:

Post a Comment