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Time Warner Cable: The Devil We Know

“Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.”

This adage couldn’t be truer than when referring to the proposed merger between Time Warner Cable and Comcast, initiated in February 2014.

Since Time Warner Cable took ownership of Insight Communications, all of us have gotten to know the company and its services very well.  It’s pretty much been a love-hate relationship from the beginning.

Some aspects of Time Warner we’ve despised:

  • the botched email transition process from Insight email to TWC email,
  • modem configuration issues requiring Tier 3 tech support to correct,
  • flaky reliability at times for Internet, phone and television services,
  • horrendous telephone technical support with inept “technicians,” and
  • ever-increasing monthly bills.

TWC did bring some positive changes, such as:

  • faster Internet speeds up to 50-meg,
  • the ability to set your DVR from your smart-phone, and
  • mobile apps allowing you to watch your favorite shows from anywhere.

When Comcast proposed buying out Time Warner for $45 billion last year, I knew it probably wouldn’t be good for consumers.  I had heard about some major issues with Comcast’s services from fellow computer professionals across the country.  But we wouldn’t really know how it would turn out for us unless the deal went through.

TWC Comcast MergerIndustry analysts initially believed the merger would be approved by the FCC, which prompted me to warn about possible upcoming changes and actions you should take back in December.

But serious opposition, citing compelling arguments, arose prompting the FCC to take a closer look at the deal – its terms and effects it would have on consumers.  If approved, Comcast would control nearly 57 percent of the broadband Internet and 30 percent of pay television in the United States.

“Giving one company control over so much of America’s communications is neither pro-consumer nor pro-competition.  Everybody knows that,” said Craig Aaron, CEO of the public interest group Free Press.

As a result, the FCC recommended the deal be sent to an administrative hearing, which would leave the decision to approve or deny it in the hands of an administrative judge.

This hearing, as most government processes, would most likely drag out for months.  It would also create significant amounts of work for the cable company executives and lawyers, increasing their costs, and most likely not result in their desired outcome based upon the evidence the FCC would present.

On Thursday, news leaked from insiders that because of this turn of events, Comcast had decided to abandon the merger.  An official announcement was expected Friday.

So for now, we’re still stuck being served by the nation’s most unpopular company, Time Warner Cable, which placed last on the University of Michigan’s American Consumer Satisfaction Index in 2014.

But at least it’s the devil we know.   Until the next proposed merger.

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A Tech Support Nightmare

It should have been a simple repair – one that would take a week at most because I had to order parts.

But fixing Ken’s computer turned in to an unexpected nightmare – one of the worst I’d ever experienced.

Ken brought his Asus laptop into my office because it would not load into Windows.  Now this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill, store-bought, cheap laptop.  It was a high-end gaming machine that cost close to $1500.

After performing thorough hardware and software diagnostic tests, I determined the Windows 7 operating system had somehow suffered serious corruption.  The best and most cost-effective solution to get Ken’s laptop back in operation would be to restore it back to the original factory settings.

Unfortunately, Ken didn’t make any recovery disks when he first purchased his computer, so I had to order them from Asus.  A simple task that was quickly performed.

Time Spent Calling Tech SupportThree business days later, I received the recovery disks from Asus.  I pulled Ken’s laptop onto the workbench in preparation to start the system restoration process.  But the computer didn’t boot from the DVD.

“That’s odd,” I muttered to myself.

I verified I had placed the correct disk in the drive and tried it again.  No luck.   I learned a long time ago that insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result.  So I placed the DVD in my office computer to see if it had any data on it.

I discovered that Asus had sent me a blank recovery disk.

Mistakes can happen, so I contacted the customer service team for the recovery media and advised them of the situation.  They said they would send out a replacement set of disks, but I would first need to return the defective ones.

I explained that resolution was unacceptable, as my client had been without his computer for right at a week.  Fortunately, I succeeded in getting them to agree to send the replacement set once they received notification the original set had been picked up by FedEx the next morning.

I called Ken to explain the delay, as we normally would have had his computer completely repaired by this time.  He graciously understood.

Four days later, FedEx delivered the replacement recovery DVDs.  Once again, I sat Ken’s laptop onto the workbench, loaded the first disk, and ….. nothing.  I checked the DVD in my computer and again found that the disk was blank.

I was livid!

I once again called Asus’ customer support for the recovery media.  I explained to a different representative the problem and requested to speak to a supervisor.  None were available.  After several hours of terse phone calls and emails, I finally reached a supervisor who worked diligently to resolve the problem.

The next day a third set of recovery DVDs landed on my desk.  This time, they worked!  I successfully restored Ken’s laptop to a fully operational state, complete with updates and good antivirus protection.

All in all, I spent over 4 hours communicating with Asus to resolve Ken’s problem.  It was frustrating and irritating.  But my purpose is to advocate for my clients and make sure their computer problems are correctly resolved.

The moral of this story:  When you’re frustrated by computers and their tech support agents, sometimes it’s worth letting a professional handle it.  Often times, we can advocate on your behalf and get things done.