Time Warner Cable Sucks and You're Their Beta Tester

I only have one choice for local cable. I could go with DIRECTV, but I feel like it’s going to be more of the same, plus DIRECTV won’t work with a TiVo Series 3, which is what I have after paying for Time Warner’s HD DVR for several months. The HD DVR offered by Time Warner is the biggest piece of junk I have ever seen. The user interface looks like Windows 95, it constantly freezes, records repeats and first runs even though I tell it I only want first runs and when I can actually figure out the interface, there’s a lag in the response from the remote control. It couldn’t be more obvious that we, as customers, are testing their technology, which clearly isn’t ready for wide release. That point was only solidified when I decided to get a TiVo Series 3, which uses CableCARD technology. While Time Warner offers CableCARDs, there aren’t many people at the company that know anything about the technology or how to provide support to customers via phone or technicians.

Here’s the story of how things went for me and my brand new TiVo S3. As soon as I got the TiVo, I made a service appointment for the following Saturday morning between 9am and 12pm. The technician arrived at 12pm with no CableCARDs despite the fact that it clearly said the job included CableCARDs. The technician was also installing internet, so while he was finishing that up, he called his supervisor in the field letting him know that the warehouse didn’t supply him with the CableCARDs. His supervisor agreed to come out to the house the same day between 1 and 3pm. He showed up with two cards, inserted them into the TiVo, told me it would take some time for them to be registered on the network and left.

The next day I turned the TiVo on and was only receiving local channels. No CNN, no MTV and definitely no HBO, Showtime, etc. I called Time Warner customer service and they clearly didn’t understand that I was using TiVo and not my TV for the cards. They also didn’t understand why I had two cards. I explained it all to them and they were clueless. They said that both cards were listed on my account, but after trying various signal refreshes, she could not get the cards to work and ended up saying there was a problem with the TiVo. So I got off the phone with TW and called TiVo. TiVo went through the CableCARD screens and figured out that while the cards might be listed on my account, they clearly were not initialized properly and were therefore not paired. The TiVo support guy was very nice, though the entire process with him on the phone took upwards of an hour to get to the point where TiVo was saying that it was TW’s fault. TW said it’s TiVo’s fault and TiVo said it was TW fault. Needless to say, I was frustrated beyond belief. I asked the TiVo guy what questions or information I should ask for from TW, so that I might get someone to help me better. He offered to call TW with me on the phone and help, so we called them up and started again.

The rep at TW was nice, but clearly didn’t know anything about CableCARD technology. From her perspective, everything was fine and there was no reason why it wouldn’t be working. She put us on hold for a long time, though she did come back every so often to tell us she was still trying to get through to someone that knew a little more about CableCARD. She knew she wasn’t going to be able to help. We did have to push a little for her to ask someone else. Finally she had a supervisor come on that knew a little more about CableCARDs. She sent some refresh signals. The TiVo guy said they needed to send a “hard hit” to the cards and she didn’t understand that. We went through a bunch of other options, spent a lot of time on hold and finally, almost 4 hours later (!!!!), she set me up with another technician to come out the following Saturday. As you can imagine,  I was so beyond frustrated at this point that I wanted to smash the TiVo. So, just to tally up how much of my time it has taken to get to this point:

4 Hours (for technician who showed up without the cards)
3 Hours (for supervisor to come out and install the cards)
4 Hours (on the phone with TW and TiVo customer support)
TOTAL: 11 hours and the CableCARDs still aren’t working

The following Saturday, the technician showed up at 9am sharp. He had 1 CableCARD. I shot him a look and he could tell I was immediately pissed. I told him the whole story and he told me to calm down and assured me he wouldn’t leave until it was solved. He had more cards in his truck. He went out to his truck and grabbed 5 more cards. So he had a total of 6 cards in my house. I removed the existing cards for my TiVo and placed the first replacement card in the bottom slot. I tested the channels and had the same problem as before. Only local channels would work. Card #2 did the same thing. Card #3 did the same thing. We tried card #4 and it worked fine after taking a few minutes to pair with the network. Great, we have 1 card out of 6 that works. Now, it shoudl be said that switching out cards on the TiVo isn’t easy because it asks you to go through the Guided Setup after you switch the cards, which takes a long time. I did that once and then we just figured out it was much easier to test the cards in the TV, since it had a CableCARD slot. We went through the remaining cards and none of them worked. 1 out of 10 cards were defective as far as the technician was concerned. He said he would run back to the warehouse and grab some more cards and would be back in 15 minutes, which he was.

We inserted one of the new ones into the TV and it didn’t work. We tried the next, which also didn’t work and finally the third, which didn’t work. This wasn’t making any sense. He tried calling their IS (engineers) department and no one answered. All morning he wasn’t able to get anyone on the phone. He knew that he needed to get these guys on the phone in order to figure this out. He finally got someone on and they couldn’t do anything for him because the cards weren’t listed on my account. So he then had to call customer service and get them added to the account. He called the IS department back on the phone and went through them to see if they could reset the card from there. He listed all the numbers they were asking for over and over, but something wasn’t matching up. It was finally determined that a bar code didn’t match the number of the actual card so when the card was brought into inventory and scanned, it didn’t match what the card actually was. In other words, the bar code didn’t match the code that was hard coded into the card. There was no way to correct this. And we couldn’t simply swap it out with another card. IS doesn’t have the ability to add equipment to an account, so we had to call customer service back, have them remove the old card and put another one in. Once we did that, we called IS back and after reading them all the numbers to activate it, it worked. So out of 10 cards, we had 2 cards that worked. Everyone was pretty excited. The total amount of time spent on this was 4 hours, bringing the grand total to 15 hours to get 2 working CableCARDs in my TiVo, never mind the amount of time it took to run Guided Setup several times (about 30 minutes each time).

You can be sure I will be writing a letter to Time Warner about my experience, which could not have been more frustrating. I work 70+ hours per week and having to deal with this could not have been more unpleasant. Unless you have the time and patience to deal with hurdles like this, I would not recommend getting an S3 in Los Angeles. Maybe other people have had better experiences, but chances are you haven’t. It was made very clear that CableCARD technology is so new that there aren’t many people that know what to do, which is really unfortunate. It’s worth mentioning that the tech that came out the second time was a rock star. He went above and beyond to make sure the job was done right. He took pride in what he was doing and was extremely thorough. his name was Aric and his technician number was 6509. He should be training everyone, even the supervisors.

I know this was long, but if it ends up helping people, then it was worth it. If you have questions, please feel free to contact me directly.

19 thoughts on “Time Warner Cable Sucks and You're Their Beta Tester”

  1. I’ve have Time Warner for a little over 3 months and it’s never worked more than an hour with problems. I have TV, Road Runner and Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) and it’s the worse service I’ve had in over 40 years. Not only does my modem cycle on and off (which turns off my phone so nobody can call) but it disconnects my Internet as well. The TV looses its channel and no TV for about 10 seconds and I’ve been dealing with this problem since day one.

    The first technician was a Hawaiian guy with a serious attitude who was rude, very unprofessional and the root cause of the problems that follow. After he left without testing anything, the modem shut off within a minute from when he walked out the door. He said to give it a night and all will be better the next day.

    The next day, the Internet worked for all of 10 minutes and the Time Warner modem recycled power. It would turn itself on and then back off. Meanwhile the phone had no dial tone at all.

    I called Time Warner and asked that my work order be given to a supervisor and asked that I be called. After more than a week, I received a voice message from Sonya or Sandra from Time Warner who said that sorry she had missed my call but to call the customer service back if I still had problems. Although she left no number to call her, I called customer service and they had no supervisor by that name at the local office.

    Technician #2 came out a few weeks later was their high priority service call. I suggested that the phone was shorting out the cable modem from Time Warner and tech #2 said that’s my problem. After more then 45 minutes of back and forth, tech#2 finally agreed to call his supervisor which suggested to check to ensure that tech #1 had disconnected the phone line from the phone company outside the home. Tech #2 checked and it was still connected so tech #1 screwed that up. After disconnecting the outside phone wires, I got a dial tone but my celebration was short lived.

    After that, my troubles seemed to get worse. Although I had a dial tone, my phone would not transmit my voice so the person on the other end could talk and I could hear but they couldn’t hear me.

    I then called the corporate Time Warner Customer complaint department and left a message and they have not called to date.

    Tech #3 came out and replaced my Time Warner Modem and found a bad splitter which he removed. It worked all of 10 minutes before starting to cycle off again.

    It’s now been over 3 months and I have a 100% shutdown every 10 minutes or so (no phone, no TV, no Internet) and the quickest technician Time Warner can send in the middle of next week.

    So here I am, over 3 months of Time Warner service and it’s never worked more than a hour at a time.

  2. John in NY here. I had a similarly awful experience with Time Warner in NY. I scheduled an install for a Saturday between 12-4. Nobody even showed up. I called them–they claim somebody called in and cancelled my appointment. The rep on the phone actually wanted me to tell her if there was anybody home with me at the time so she could verify I hadn’t called the cancellation in myself! She said she’d find a time to send a tech. She suggested the next week–I couldn’t do it. She then offered Thursday evening–I couldn’t do it. I told her to to forget it.

    So, of course, somebody tried to come by on Thursday evening, even when I told them explicitly I couldn’t do it then.

    They finally called me asking me to reconsider and schedule an installation–they’d throw in all this free and discounted stuff if I wanted. I caved. They could come out the next Saturday from 2-6. I said fine. So I waited at home another Saturday, sure that they would put me first on their list given the no-show the last time. Instead, they put me last. The tech hadn’t shown up by 6pm. I called to ask about him–the phone rep basically said he’s on his way, but that he was just assuming this as he really didn’t know. The guy shows up at 6:30 (30 minutes late) and took over an hour for a very simple install. Moreover, he shows up with only one box (I’d ordered two).

    The tech, who was nice, just kept talk about how overworked he was. I couldn’t believe it. I had invested over 10 hours just to get cable service to my apartment. TW just sucks.

    Oh, and I agree that after using TW’s new DVRs, I agree they’re complete crap. Really a step down from their old versions. How can the machine get this much worse?? Really baffling. TW used to be good.

  3. Time Warner is a joke. customer service sucks. called in reference to service outage. Very good at putting customers on HOLD for long periods of time. Forces you to use there automated system which is useless. Switch to Verzion fios. Then the rep said please hold and call back for a credit. Time warner cannot issure a credit until service is restored. So you have to call back again an wait on hold for 1/2 hour to 1hr to get the credit. As soon as verizon fios is installed in more areas they will give Time warner a run for there money.


  4. I had nearly the exact same situation occur with TW in San Diego with my Tivo HD series box. I have spent 14 hours attempting to have TW initialize my CableCARDs and no one has a clue. The techs aren’t trained and the supervisors simple throw up their hands.

    Don’t buy a new TIVO HD box if you expect TW in this area to install your CableCards!

  5. Time Warner Customer Service…hmmm, isn’t that an oxymoron??? I’m too frustrated to go into all the details, but let me just say the bottom line is that I have been without phone service for close to a month now due to a TW technician’s oversight…actually, it was more like an idiotic mistake. Several frustated calls later, not to mention being transferred from department-to-department, I had finally secured a new date to have my phone lines re-connected only to have an interent tech show up. (I already have TW internet set-up–neither he nor I knew why he was there.) After about an hour of several phone calls by both me and the internet tech, we discovered there was another work order out there for my phone service, but it had been cancelled. Several phone calls later and we’re still trying to figure out why it was cancelled. One rep said it was cancelled due to and “OJC Eval.” but nobody at TW knew what that was. My last phone coversation ended with me so frustrated that it brought me to tears and I couldn’t even speak. I’m so ready for Verizon, but afraid of the same old crap. Why aren’t there any mom-and-pop companies out there figuring out how to do this? I’m sick of these large companies having us by the b–lls!! Where’s the TW CEO when you need him? He’s probably sucking on a margarita somewhere on his Verizon phone. They should set up training for execs where they actually have to call their own customer service reps to see what “the little People” have to go through!!!

  6. It’s really a shame that I see my own story reflected time and time again in these personal accounts. I am forced to use sh1tty TWC because of the design of my apartment. If there was a place to mount an ugly dish I would do so without pause to rid myself of TWC. Anyway, I’ve tried 3 of the TWC digital HD DVRs over the past 2 years, and found them all to be rubbish. Slow, plodding and unintuitive, they might display HD but they don;t record it well at all. Use Opticla for digital sound? Good luck, because it cuts out all the time.

    This time I decided after 1 week to kick this one to the curb for the last time, and shelled out cash for my own DVR. I consider myself a pretty technical guy (IT architect), and had just purchased my third (yet first HD model) Tivo about 2 weeks ago. I read up on the forums abotu the cablecards and thought it sounded pretty straightforward. I figured I would just swing by a RWC office (3 in the area) and drop off that P.O.S. TWC DVR and pick up the cablecards. How naive I was. You have to schedule an appointment to have a “tech” come out for anything. I’m surprised they don;t charge for a cable lineup.

    I explicity asked 3 TWC reps if they carried Multiplex cablecards, yet none of them had a clue as to what I was talking about. So I told the rep that I needed NOT ONE, but TWO CABLECARDS. That’s TWO cablecards – not one – TWO. So i take off work and this guy shows up with one cablecard, and absolutely clueless as to how to set it up. I had read enough to coach him through the process, yet even with that the inept tech on the other side of his phone couldn’t get the numbers straight.

    In short – 1.5 hours to insert a card into a Tivo and get digital channels.

    TWC blows – get DISH if you have any choice in the matter

  7. I had Time Warner digital phone service installed today and it does NOT work. I spent over an hour on hold and with tech support because I couldn’t recieve calls. Finally, it worked … for about an hour. Then, I couldn’t make or get calls. I spent another hour dealing with tech support. One woman put me on hold and never came back. (I held for 20 minutes.) Someone is coming out again tomorrow afternoon … I’m keeping my fingers crossed. In the meantime, I decided to call a supervisor. (I had been told the wait was a half-hour, so I waited until my free cell phone minutes kicked in.) After waiting 15 minutes, the call went back to an operator who said no supervisors were there. Why did it take 15 minutes to find that out? Time Waner seems very incompetent. Some customer service reps are very friendly. Others are rude and totally not helpful. Meanwhile … no dial tone …

  8. i hate time warner cable. they dont have the nfl network availabe, they dont even air some of the most important nfl games, they dropped the best show ever “chuck” and the guide sucks, the remote lags, its impossible to record a freaking show, the hard drive is tiny

  9. I am a tech for time warner……All I can says is if you dont have new cable from the pole to equipment, your digital equipment will not function properly 100% of the time. Secondly most of the country is using the same plant and system as they did when there were 13 cable channels. Your wire is your property and you have the right to request new wire. RG6 is top of the line for digital and data transmission. There is a 10db window in which all equipment has to be in for digital equipment to work right.

    Bottom line is this…… your installer is your best friend or your worst enemy depending on his ability to do his joblike he was trained.

    NEW WIRE!!!! RG6 Ask for it…. better yet demand it!!!

    God Bless

  10. All new DVR, HD DVR, and some digital boxes are OCAP (contain cable cards) The FCC has mandated this and there is nothing we can do about it as techs and customers. I have 2 DVRs and a digital in my house and never have a problem with anything, other than my remote turns my TV to channel 7 when I hit volume down ( no fix for this ).My Roadrunner hits 12-14 Mbps everyday, allday. My house was rewired prior to digital equipment. I check my levels once a month and they never flucuate more than 0.5db. Cablecards are manufactured by 2 companys…Motorola and Scientific Atlanta, there are over 300 tv manufacturers. FCC mandates all tv manufacturers be OCAP compliant by 2-09,and there scrambling to sell TV’s before they are made to comply.

    For the record….. Not 1 single television station broadcasts in 1080p… if you bought the TV because Peyton Manning told you to…… it is no better than any other until 2-09……Sorry bout the bad news…. Please send me your questions..

    Guaranteed TV’s to accept a cable card are Sony (for now)

    God Bless

  11. I am a subcontractor for the Juggernaut, “Time Warner”. The inhouse techs are idiots and the managment is worse. us subcontractees are held to such suffocating rules and standards that their inhouse are not to held to that if it werent for trying to provide for my family… i would distace myself from the band of newaged plantation owners as far as possible. bringdown the commie-monopolizer.


  12. Are you kidding me right now?? You are held to rules because of the shady work you have done in the past. We now have the ability to back charge our subs for the work they leave customers with. I understand you buy all your gear and tools, but that doesnt validate the customer being left with junk cable and equipment that isnt stable. Our office has ran out the last 4 companies that sub’d work. You may do excellent work and I thank you if you do, but 90% of my post sub service calls are due to poor workmanship and hurry up installs.

    I cherish my job and have a family as well…… if I screw up there is no other company or office I can go to without my resume.

    Good Luck and God Bless

  13. Yea…the contractor who wrote that needs to shut his mouth. I am a CSR at time warner and I can tell ya the contractors do almost all our installs and that’s about 90% of the complaints I get when it comes to techs. I am sure they are very comptent contract techs…but I know they get paid by the amount of work and not by the hour…so put two and two together on this one.

  14. I have to post this because this is another bad experience with TWC but not due to anything under my control.

    Everyday for 2 weeks our internet would go out. We have Vonage so the phone runs through the internet and if the internet is not working, neither is the phone. No big deal since I have a cell phone. When the internet would go out everyday, it would happen from 10am to 2pm. Then again at night from 6:45 to 7:30. I had started to get aggrivated and contacted TWC to have someone come out to look at my equipment (I had not touched it after it had been installed. I am not real tech savvy).

    They had scheduled someone to come out 2 days after. Fine, I had no problem. Two days go by and no one showed up. I called TWC the day after a tech was supposed to come to find out what happened. They said they could not find that technician and they will have someone come out the following week! I was a little upset at this point, but I let it go. The following week when the tech was to arrive, he never showed AGAIN! This is now 2 days I had to take off from work to have this problem fixed.

    When I called TWC again, to let them know that a tech had not shown up AGAIN, they rescheduled me for 3 days later! Well, I almost had it. BUT believe it or not a tech showed up this third try. He came in, checked out the modem, and said “Yup, it doesn’t work. I will have to send someone out to fix it”. If it was legal to beat the crap out of someone, I would have seriously hurt this man. I called TWC back and told them what he said. They would schedule someone to come out the following week! I LOST IT! It was now a month without internet and phone.

    During all of this, they kept telling me that the problem was with an outside box, not with my modems. THE ENTIRE TIME I was telling them I didn’t think that was the case, but what was I to know? They sent over the head technician after I had threatened to call their corporate office (I still have a letter written to their Board of Directors but haven’t mailed it yet). He came over and said it was the modem. He brought a new one over and that fixed the problem.

    WHY WOULD I HAVE TO WAIT OVER A MONTH TO GET RESULTS?? TWC is the WORST cable company EVER! Someday karma will get back at them, but until then, I hope every employee gets a flat tire everyday on their way to work, the bastards.

    I had missed work, sat at home and wasted days trying to get them to come out to me. They would call the house phone while it wasn’t working and stated that they don’t call cell phones. The cust. serv. is pitiful and I work in customer service for a living. I would be embarrassed to work for them. I don’t want to hear any whining from employees of TWC how they don’t pay well and blah blah blah. There are other jobs out there. YOU decided to work for a shitty company so YOU get to deal with the angry customers. If you hate working there so much, then leave! No pity for you at all.



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  17. How can I get representation to take legal action? I’d love sue pants off of Time Warner Cable TV in San Diego that is not going to drive me to the poor house. I’ve been told by Time Warner Cable that there is nothing wrong with the cable and that it is my TV, Had to fix that problem myself, I’ve been hung up on by the customer service rep. form Time Warner when I’ve called in to complain about the service. They say they can’t hear me and that they will call me back at the number on there caller I.D. I’ve never gotten a call back. Today I would not give up. I spent over an hour on the phone until I got someone to listen to me.
    I have been paying these guys for 19 years of substandard service (well I guess they set the standard). They have a monopoly on cable TV in the area of San Diego that live in so I have no choice on high internet and cable AT&T in slower as advertised. You got to love America business attitude fuck over the citizens they are just cattle to suck the blood from. Any lawyers out there that want to tear these thieves a new one and help brake there monopoly on the “cable TV service?

  18. I am also a contractor for TWC. My trouble call after install has been under 6% for the last 2 months, so I am doing something right. When I do an install, I try to replace anything I can cause I simply make more money that way. Most of the MDUs (apartments) in my area are ran with 59 lines which doesn’t carry a digital signal worth a damn. if you live in an apartment, pull off a wall plate and see if your line is really thin. This is not time warners responsiblity to replace cause it is ran in such a way that replacing just one line to the lockbox can take over an hour. I heard an inhouse tech the other day complain that he failed 5 QCs and wasn’t told what jobs were going to be checked ahead of time. DON’T BUY SPILTTERS OR CABLE FROM WALMART, when I see it in a house, I tell the customer That I am going to remover it and replace it. Hooking up a splitter yourself and running cable lines yourself is AGAINST time Warner service agreement. I know alot of people have problems with TWC, but just think that some people are given 7 8:30 -12 jobs, 5 12-4 jobs, 4 7-4 jobs. That was my route today, do you feel sorry for me? Hell no you don’t, so why in the hell should I care about the service you get? I do care and I do my job the best I can. P.S Time warners equipment is the worst, 8 bad MTA’s in one day? What can I do about that?

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