Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Review - Time Warner Cable

I switched to Time Warner Cable when I left Dish Network. Part of the reason I left Dish Network involved my DVR breaking, and therefore an inability to record shows, pause, rewind, fast-forward and such. This is a feature that one has to pay for, and I expect it to work. Dish Network didn't seem to agree, and I was to find out only too soon, neither does Time Warner.

At the time I signed up, I was in the process of leaving Verizon's DSL and Phone services. I was looking for the fastest internet connection I could get, which at the time was Verizon. I knew Time Warner had an Internet Service Provider (ISP) called Roadrunner, which in past experience was a nightmare. The salesman signed me up for the three pack bundle, which included 10mbps internet, cable tv, and a voice-over-IP phone service. He told me that I was in a fiber optic area, and that I would really be getting 15mbps, which I was pretty stoked about. He was wrong.

Considering the 10/15mbps rates were identical, I didn't complain when I found that I was in reality getting the 10mbps speed. What I did complain about was the fact that my upstairs DVR stopped recording. I was annoyed at the fact that I had to rent two DVRs for Time Warner, when Dish Network only took one. I was far more than annoyed when the thing broke in the first three days.

Eventually the DVR fixed itself, about a week later. We thought that we were out of the woods. We weren't. The downstairs DVR decided to fail. At this point we were also wondering what happened to our phone service, as our install date had passed. I called to figure out what was going on.

As for the phone, apparently the salesman screwed up and the phone order was dropped without notification. The DVR support person made me jump through some hoops, and nothing happened. It eventually fixed itself, as the upstairs one had done before. A couple of weeks later guess what happened. Yup, the upstairs DVR broke again.

In the mean time Dish Network had offered me a sweet deal to come back, so I decided to take them up on it. I got a salesgirl who didn't want my business, so I was forced to crawl back to Time Warner. I called and asked for a technician to come in, and asked for all charges to be reduced/dropped. They complied to their credit, and sent a tech out.

The tech was pretty good, and found that our signal was weak, and did his best to fix it. He boosted the signal by 4 times the original strength. The DVR was still out, so he replaced it. He offered to come by without a work order if anything wasn't working, which we are about to take him up on. Want to know what happened as soon as he left? The downstairs DVR broke again! Now I am furious with Time Warner. This stuff is way too expensive to put up with this kind of garbage.

I went back to Dish Network, hoping to get a more cooperative salesman. I managed to find one, and began the sign-up process when I hit another roadblock. This time it was not the salesman, but Dish Network itself that didn't want my business. I explain this in my Dish Network review, so I will move on.

I am now at a crossroads. I can't get Dish Network, and don't want Time Warner. One of my friends has gone the Netflix only route, which I am tempted to try. I can get DVDs of my favorite shows for less than half the price of cable. What is a disgruntled consumer to do?

Time Warner cable has a few redeeming qualities which I will cover to make this a fair review. Every time I have called I got a very friendly customer service rep. They aren't all knowledgeable, but at least they are friendly. The last guy I talked to was VERY good. He listened to my technical opinions and agreed that I was on the right track with my assessment. He sent out a tech and credited my account with no hassle.

The tech was another asset to Time Warner. He went above and beyond when he made the house call. My wife was very impressed with his service and he was on time. This is something that can be rare in the cable business.

The two positives mentioned above being considered, I still cannot recommend Time Warner cable. I plan to remain on the RoadRunner ISP, which the tech was able to fix, but I cannot justify wasting any more money on Time Warner's cable service. I give Time Warner a 1 out of 10 for value, but an 8 out of 10 for the customer service personnel I have encountered.

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