Daily Archives: December 18th, 2010
Charter Communications: The Eat My Ass Trilogy
To start this post, first a quick definition. “Charter Communications” is a cable company who’s primary function is to run commercials for themselves using vast quantities of their own unsold ad space on their channels. Essentially customers pay for a service where they get to watch commercials for Charter Communications and sometimes, as a bonus, actual programming.
It’s time for Charter Communications, Episode 3, where it can finally be revealed that Charter Communications is my father…
In Episode 1, we learned about an asinine $25 fee that Charter slapped on my ass because my “Quick Pay” payment “didn’t go through” and they couldn’t tell me why. We also learned about Charter shipping jobs out of our country by closing call centers in the United States while opening them up in foreign countries. (In my case I got to work with Panama City, Panama.)
Then, in Episode 2, we learned how I cry at sappy shit. (I so love being pathetic.) But we also learned how Charter’s “On Demand” is one of the largest piles of steaming shit in the galaxy. It’s truly craptacular. A veritable Death Star of Crap.
Today, the rest of the story can finally be told. The saga continues…
Charter Communications: Eat My Ass – Episode 3
It is a dark time for the Charter rebellion. Although treated badly and provided with a horrible product and horrible service, the leader of the rebellion still remains a Charter customer. So far, threats of canceling service or changing companies have never actually been carried out.
We catch up with our hero at a time of service renewal…
Here’s a quick recap of events so far. We were Charter Communications customers. We hated Charter. We had problems with our internet, with our Moxi box, and every single interaction with them was always extremely unpleasant.
We moved into a new house. We found a flier on our door with the direct number to a guy who would help us with Charter. We called and he turned out to be a Charter employee. Since we had moved, he hooked us up with a deal to get internet and TV service for a discount. The discounted price is actually more like what I would call a fair price, not the vastly inflated rates they normally charge. Things were fair and basically worked for that first year. Yes, the box sucked but our internet was ok, so we lived with it.
After that year was up, Charter jacked our rate. For the slowest possible internet and a plan consisting of the smallest possible number of channels, they wanted about $90 a month. That included the “On Demand” box and about 70 channels that we’d always had. That price was simply too outrageous and unacceptable. We made preparations to live without TV and find someone else to provide our internet.
But first, my wife decided to call that guy who had helped us before. She still had the door hang. She talked to him and explained the situation. If we didn’t get relief on their outrageous rates, we would opt-out of Charter once and for all.
The Charter employee (I again confirmed this) said he would extend the rate to us for one more year and we’d continue to have “exactly” what we had now. We agreed to this plan.
This is where Charter starts to make The Empire look like a bunch of amateurs.
For some strange reason, for his plan to work, the Charter employee had to show up at our house and swap out our cable box with one that was exactly the same. He also had to replace our cable modem for the internet. None of this made much sense to me, but whatever. I was merely a hostage in the situation AKA the customer, so I went along with it.
I had to meet the guy after work to let him in the house to make the equipment swaps. He brought in the new box and the cable modem. He swapped everything out. Everything seemed to work. Then he handed me some paperwork to sign.
WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT!!!
On the paper work was the name “Tom Wigglebottom.” I was like, “Who the fuck is that???” It was my first name with a different last name.
The Charter employee explained this was the way it was done. Our service had previously been in my wife’s name. He explained that to continue the special price he had to close the old account, open a new one, and that it had to be in a new name. So he had invented a person with my first name and my wife’s maiden name. “Everyone does it,” he said.
“Fuck that,” I said. “I’m not going to fucking lie to be your customer.”
He said it was too late. He’d already set everything up. He said I had to accept it or everything would be shut off. I reluctantly agreed, but I was seriously pissed off. (I guess this is the moment I sold out my soul and for fucking Charter?)
I asked, “What happens if we have to call in for tech support? There is no human being with that name. They won’t talk to us.” (I knew this because Charter never allowed me to call on my wife’s account.)
“You’ll always have to go through me,” he said. “I’ll be your point of contact.” That sure sounded suspicious to me. The whole thing was one smelly deal.
His deceitful work done, the guy left. Within a day we noticed that our 70 channels were gone. We were now limited to approx. 15 channels, and most of those were public access, shopping and religion. What a wonderful deal! Also, the “On Demand” service that had previously worked OK was now the steaming pile of shit as documented in Episode 2. Something was seriously wrong.
We called the guy back. We certainly didn’t have “exactly” what we had before as he had promised.
Lo and behold, the guy was unavailable and didn’t return our calls. Now we were fucked. So we waited and waited and waited some more.
Finally my wife bird-dogged him and got him on the phone. “It must be the box,” he said. And there began a process lasting a couple of weeks. The guy would come to our house every few days, swap out the box, nothing would change, he’d talk to the home office, then promise to be back with a new box. It was amazing how many times he tried this.
Eventually the guy got pissy with us. “Listen,” he said. “You were never supposed to have those channels in the first place,” he hissed.
What the fuck? He was the one that set up the original deal! And promised to give us the same thing again. “Exactly,” he had said. And now he was making us feel like criminals for having something we weren’t supposed to have??
“We never asked for those,” I said, “nor did I ever know they weren’t supposed to be part of our plan.”
“Take it or leave it,” he said.
And this is an example of a Charter employee? Someone who doesn’t keep his promises, lies, is unethical, and then disappears after saying he’s your only point of contact. And at one point he told me, “This is how it works. Everyone does it.”
In closing, I’d like to thank Charter for making my asshole three sizes too large. That must be their version of The Grinch Who Stole Abysmass.
Epilogue – A New Hope
It is beginning to look like we may have the last laugh after all. For my birthday I wanted a device that would play Pandora music on my home stereo using our wifi. It took some time but we finally found such a device. And it does so much more than just music. (More on this device in a post coming soon.)
In fact, finally, we’re going to be able to fire Charter, at least partially.
It turns out the device can stream Netflix and all sorts of other programming directly to our TV. Charter’s “On Demand” service is now obsolete. (Cue the party in my pants.) And the little device works awesome. One simple little device comes along and makes everything Charter does look like a tinker toy. That’s neat.
This next week we will be turning in our Charter box. We are also considering turning off their TV service altogether. That will mean we’ll be paying their cheapest rate for high speed internet. That will probably be something like $60 to $70 a month without being in a “bundle.” What a rip off. But our overall monthly bill with them will still go down. And we’ll finally be able to put our account back in our own friggin’ names and terminate the snarky lie their employee established.
So, that’s it for now. The trilogy is complete. Originally I had envisioned a series of nine stories about Charter. Three more “prequels” and then three more continuing what happens next. But I don’t think I have that kind of energy. Maybe instead I’ll just be done with them forever…