Friday, June 27, 2008

Wiley Coyote Wins One

Just a rant interjected into my normal subject matter.

On Monday I got a call from someone who said his name was Vincent Lewis. He was extending an offer for a 30 day trial of Time Warner's Road Runner Cable Internet Service. If, during the 30 days, you decide you don't want to continue the service you can call and discontinue it and owe nothing. Supposedly you get to keep some firewall package anyway. If you decided to keep it you would be charged $19.95 a month for the first year and then $29.95 a month thereafter.

Well, I am not a big fan of Road Runner ever since an attempt to install it totally hosed my system many years ago. This was a big deal at the time, got written up in magazines, nasty business. I put that aside and decided to give it a try. I was told that I would receive a modem and everything else required to do an install delivered via DHL or a similar service and I would receive it by the end of the week. That would be today or tomorrow.

This morning I got a call from a Time Warner service person who wanted to know if I would be there for a service call. I said I didn't have any service call scheduled that I knew of. I did say that I was expecting to receive a modem but that I was under the impression that I could install it myself. After about a five minute conversation where I don't know if either of us knew exactly what we were talking about he said he would close the ticket.

When no modem showed up by late afternoon I figured I should call Time Warner to see if there was some kind of a mix up. The number that I was given to call if I had any questions about the modem or service turned out to be their generic customer service number. This, of course, required negotiating through their automated menu and trying to figure out which selections were most appropriate. I punched the technical problem button just to see what would happen. I got one of those automated help things that just drive me crazy. You have to answer about a dozen questions that have nothing to do with your actual problem before actually being able to talk to anyone. I finally went back and pressed the button having to do with new services or something like that.

The first person that I talked to didn't know anything about any offer for a self-install modem and wasn't familiar with the free trial offer either. She said she would transfer me to someone in the New York sales office who could help me. I got transferred back to the main menu instead.

The next person I talked to was more helpful, but only marginally. He actually pulled up my account and saw that there was a service call scheduled for the morning but couldn't say what it was for because the ticket had been closed. He thought it might be to install the modem, but wasn't sure. When I said I was told that I could do the install myself and the serviceman I talked to didn't seem to know anything about a modem he first said that Time Warner didn't offer a self-install modem. When I said that was what I was told he kind of backed down and said that it looked like they had one but that I would have to go to a Time Warner service station or something to pick it up and get the appropriate access codes.

He also initially said he was unaware of any introductory offer but the standard rate was $29.95 a month. When I said I was told the rate would be $19.95 a month for the first year and would then increase to $29.95 he did manage to find such an offer. But he still said there was no provision for sending out a self install package with a modem.

At this point I said to just cancel my order. I said if this was the level of service I could expect when I called the number I was given to call if I had problems, had the name of the person I talked to about the service, and still couldn't get a real good handle on what was going on I certainly didn't want to depend upon them if I actually had a problem in the future.

This is the kind of thing that drives me crazy. Someone actually gets you to try a service and you would think they would bend over backwards to make sure you were pleased with it. Instead, nobody even seems to be sure about what you were offered but seem convinced that what you described isn't available. Of course nobody even tried to get hold of Vincent Lewis to see what was going on. In my experience tele-marketers seldom give you their real name anyway, but they still should have been able to track him down. My conversation was even recorded by a verifier to make sure they had all of my correct billing information when I accepted the offer.

Needless to say, I will not be trying Time Warner's Road Runner Cable Internet Service, or whatever it is, anytime soon. Probably never.

By the way, I was supposedly offered this Road Runner Cable Internet package because I am a long term customer of Time Warner Cable whose account is in good standing. When I went to the Time Warner Cable website and entered my address to find out what offers were available nothing like what I was offered on the telephone showed up. I don't think their left hand knows what their right hand is doing.