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Charter Files For "Prearranged Bankruptcy"

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the down-but-not-out dept.

Businesses 82

jamie points out news that Charter Communications filed for "prearranged" Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Friday, primarily to reorganize some of the $21.7 billion in debt it has accrued. Quoting: "The St. Louis-based company seeks to emerge from bankruptcy as early as the end of summer and doesn't plan on selling any of its assets to competitors. After Chapter 11, interest costs at Charter, which has never posted a profit since going public in 1999 due to massive debt interest payments, will be cut in half to $830 million a year. The filing restructures about $8 billion of debt at Charter, which is controlled by Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen, but leaves about $13 billion of debt on its books. Allen will control 35 percent of the votes in the reorganized company. In the bankruptcy, Allen's 51 percent equity stake in the cable operator will be wiped out, along with shares of other stockholders. Allen also holds some debt and preferred stock."

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Maybe Obama can just bail them out? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27370483)

How much free mney do they need? $25 billion? Heck, let's be safe and give them 10x that... $250 billion.

Re:Maybe Obama can just bail them out? (2, Insightful)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 5 years ago | (#27372213)

Unfortunately, as the auto industry found out, you need to have Obama's friends working in your industry in order to qualify.

Re:Maybe Obama can just bail them out? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#27372485)

you need to have Obama's friends working in your industry in order to qualify.

If by "Obama's friends" you mean the millions of auto workers and people who manufacture auto parts, you are absolutely correct.

Re:Maybe Obama can just bail them out? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27373735)

If you mean millions of UNION employees, yes. The Democrats owe their souls to the unions, the very same unions that kill any business they touch.

Re:Maybe Obama can just bail them out? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27374191)

Which is why the union-friendly foreign-owned auto makers need bailout money.

Oh wait, they don't.

Re:Maybe Obama can just bail them out? (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27377557)

Ummm... you really need a fact check on Asian auto manufacturers. Cultural considerations aside, the concept of a union is laughable there.

Re:Maybe Obama can just bail them out? (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#27390709)

Because they were never needed there, the asian manufacturers neither treated employees like slaves nor discarded workers as worthless cogs at the first sign of trouble.

Re:Maybe Obama can just bail them out? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27373507)

I'm glad you included the answer to what 10x your original amount was.

Thanks, I was really stumped!

First tits! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27370489)

Boobs are a myth!

Re:First tits! (-1, Offtopic)

BPPG (1181851) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370643)

I don't know why, but I really laughed hard at this.

13 billion!!!! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27370501)

How can a company be allowed to get 13 BILLION into debt!

Re:13 billion!!!! (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370555)

Loans. A lot of stupid loans.

Re:13 billion!!!! (1)

XPeter (1429763) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370669)

How can Bernard Madoff be allowed to run a 60B+ ponzi scheme?

Re:13 billion!!!! (3, Insightful)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370983)

how can the federal reserve system be allowed to run a 10 trillion dollar + pyramid scheme?

Re:13 billion!!!! (1)

johnny cashed (590023) | more than 5 years ago | (#27371235)

um.. greed? And hubris. Lots of hubris.

Re:13 billion!!!! (1)

anarkhos (209172) | more than 5 years ago | (#27381449)

Neither. They are allowed because the people are sheep and dare not disobey legal tender laws.

Re:13 billion!!!! (4, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#27372535)

How can a company be allowed to get 13 BILLION into debt!

Because our brand of capitalism is based on borrowed money.

Just about every company who employs more than 100 people is borrowing money daily in the commercial paper market just to pay its vendors and employees.

That, coupled with the notion that there has to be constant, accelerating growth, that having a company that makes a profit and employs people that are happy just isn't enough, and you get a system that's made of borrowed money and workers who are exploited.

One bright spot in this recent economic turmoil is that more people are learning a lot of surprising things about the way our "free-market capitalist" system really works. More of them are realizing that it's not "the immigrants" or "the blacks" or "Wall Street" or even "the government" that is destroying our way of life, it's something a lot more systemic.

Re:13 billion!!!! (1)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 5 years ago | (#27376303)

One bright spot in this recent economic turmoil is that more people are learning a lot of surprising things about the way our "free-market capitalist" system really works. More of them are realizing that it's not "the immigrants" or "the blacks" or "Wall Street" or even "the government" that is destroying our way of life, it's something a lot more systemic.

Yeah, it's showing us that badly managed businesses will fail, see Charter. It has also showed me at least, that when the government starts to step in and hand out bailouts and stimulus, that things only get worse. Especially no strings attached stimulus. People are surprised that AIG is doing what they want with the money that was given them without any checks? I'm not. I don't blame AIG, I blame "the government" (both the old and new) for giving them any money in the first place.

Re:13 billion!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27383863)

Even well-managed businesses can and do fail.

Re:13 billion!!!! (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#27394433)

I don't blame AIG, I blame "the government"

Since, here in the US, the "government" is us (remember "by, for and of.."?) then we have only ourselves to blame.

See, the thing is, with our system, if we don't like something the government is doing, we have an opportunity to make a change. That is not so with corporations. As many of us have learned first hand, if there's something a big corporation does that we object to, there's little to nothing we can do about it, especially when the corporation, such as AIG or Haliburton, or the energy corporations, or telecoms, is not one which we've actually "chosen".

Oh sure, I can cancel my AT&T account and go with Verizon, but since there are so few players, and those players have written the regulations, we really don't have anything like "choice".

That reminds me, did you know that when Congress passes a bill to regulate an industry, that bill was actually written by those industries' lawyers and lobbyists?

This is all a good reason for us to exercise the one area of oversight we do have (over the government) enthusiastically and as often as possible.

Re:13 billion!!!! (1)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 5 years ago | (#27384905)

I just wanted to say.. your post is absolutely epic. Good show!

Re:13 billion!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27379139)

Because it's the old adage:
If you owe the bank $100, you're in trouble. If you owe the bank $100 million, the bank is in trouble.

Luckily, blindly lending to those who have no chance of repaying the debt is not widespread. If it was, can you imagine what would happen to the financial system?

Re:13 billion!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27382317)

The "lending blindly to those who have no chance of repaying" was not done willingly. The Federal government almost held a gun to their heads to do it. Banks and other lenders were forced to come up with some very creative loan programs to comply with the Feds. Everybody denies it, but the Community Reinvestment Act was responsible in a large way for the mess we're in now. And the problem went much further than the low-income borrowers. People making good money were buying houses they couldn't afford because of the bubble (inflation of home prices). Developers, contractors using cheap Mexican labor, and real estate agents didn't help matters with their greed.

What do you think the "toxic assets" (now called legacy assets by the purveyors of NewSpeak) are? MORTGAGE BACKED SECURITIES.

Go ahead. Mod the truth down if you wish, but you'll never completely silence it.

Poor Paul... (4, Funny)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370521)

A financial setback like this might cause him to lose a house... Imagine being fourth homeless...

Re:Poor Paul... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27370821)

Another nasty contribution of Microsoft people to life in America

Italians did this (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27370549)

I blame Italians and their nefarious ices. They are always screwing things up. They should go back to Mexico where they came from.

Could it be their service? (4, Interesting)

bunyip (17018) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370559)

I was a cable internet customer, with Charter, for several years. It was flaky and crapped out at least once a month, and their service sucked. THey completely rewired my lot twice, each tech saying that the previous tech used the wrong cable, or just somehow did it all wrong. Can't say I'm sad to see Charter suffer.

Currently have FiOS, the 15 Mbit download is pretty cool. Only had one minor problem and their support was good, and called back to make sure I was satisfied with their service.

Hope this doesn't sound like a rant - but when we went over to the fiber optic service, the tech told us that Charter and other cable companies were driving a lot of frustrated people over to them.

Alan

Re:Could it be their service? (5, Insightful)

Mousit (646085) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370747)

Hell, some people were lucky if they even got shitty service. My grandmother's really getting into the whole technology thing with gusto, and was after HDTV and high-speed internet. Guess what? Charter did not offer either option to her entire town (a close-in, well-established suburb of Dallas). In fact, they had no plans to EVER offer either one in "that market" as they put it. Suddenly I realized why so very, very many houses around there had sprung up satellite dishes.

She even went up to the Charter office, and the girl that she talked to there actually said she was telling customers to get satellite. So that's what my grandmother did. She'd been a Charter customer literally since they became available in her area, even before they ever went public. Decades. Not anymore. She's a happy DirecTV customer now, with all her HDTV and her DVR. Loving it.

She got AT&T DSL too, not the greatest choice but it's pleased her.

Looking around at all the other dishes in the area (a lot of them are DISH network, I notice, which is owned by AT&T, so probably a lot of DSL customers too), it's not at all hard to see that Charter is hemorrhaging customers in that market, and I have little doubt that it is by far not the only place where they're making such stupid, asinine decisions that are forcing customers to leave them in order to get the service they clearly want.

Re:Could it be their service? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27371013)

Looking around at all the other dishes in the area (a lot of them are DISH network, I notice, which is owned by AT&T, so probably a lot of DSL customers too)

No, it isn't. DISH Network Corporation is its own publicly traded company, spun off from EchoStar Communications, which is the one that owns the fleet of satellites.

Re:Could it be their service? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27373537)

Lewisville, by any chance? You should be able to get Verizon FIOS in that area, and its pretty good.

Re:Could it be their service? (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#27390871)

The situation you described is EXACTLY why local franchise agreements are good and statewide universal franchise agreements are very bad. If there is sufficient demand for those services and the incumbent provider refuses to offer them then the city simply amends the franchise agreement at the next renewal to require those services to be offered by a certain date, if Charter fails to meet that obligation then they lose their monopoly in that community. I know that was the only reason the last place I lived got digital cable and broadband out of Adelphia, they kept dragging their feet until the local utility commissioner reminded them of the large fines and loss of monopoly status for missing the completion date on their rollout (they were still like 9 months late but at least they actually completed the rollout).

Re:Could it be their service? (2, Informative)

leamanc (961376) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370897)

I see a lot of Charter bashing, I thought I'd put in my two cents in the interest of opposing viewpoints. I live "in the sticks" in Missouri, at the very tail end of what they consider the "St. Louis region." In fact, I'm in the farthest town they service. The rates are very good for my area, and the service has been better than anything else I've tried. I've had to have my cable modem replaced twice in five years, and suffered a couple of outages after big storms. Other than that, it's been great. What I pay for 10 megabit download, other folks in my area on other providers only get 3 megabit. The option to buy the cable modem instead of leasing it worked out good; it paid for itself in six months and now I'm paying even less per month.

Re:Could it be their service? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27371311)

As an employee of Charter Communications I resent your stance that you're glad anyone is in financial hardship. I can attest through my own observations and experiences that there is flaws in the customer service side. Since Charter outsourced their customer service department to "Convergsys" and "Teletch" based in locations such as the Phillipeans, the customer service quality has plummeted. The outsourcing companies undertrain their employees and the reps are not armed with much knowledge to properly resolve customer issues.

I do believe the backbone is strong however. As with many large companies, there are going to be complaints of problems and inefficieancies. However, as someone with direct communications with customers, the very large majority are happy with their service, especially with the internet side of things.

Another poster made the comment on how horrible the moxi dvr's are, and how many customers are frusterated. However, there has been a non-stop demand for these boxes and in some areas its hard to keep them in stock. These are by far our most requested DVR, far over the motorola dvr's. For equipment that is being "beta tested" there sure is a lot of happy customers with them.

Re:Could it be their service? (2, Interesting)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27373913)

As I post this, I upload a file to my friends ftp server all the way to California from Europe with my max upload speed, there is no "optimisation" or anything on both boxes either. One system is OS X Leopard and other is NetBSD.

I can't say anything bad about a service like that as distance really matters between residential connections, especially when they have to pass 30-35 hops. If I moved to California, my service would really be charter.

I can't understand what kind of "phone support" people get from a cable ISP either. Generally 192.168.*.* from local connection (the DOCSIS modem itself) would give lot more than ISP can get over there, especially with lousy connections.

The only "customer service" you would need is because of the idiot DOCSIS guys. It is almost nightmare, hack of deepest hacks to get firmware updates as the standard had "set top TV box" as scheme of doing things. You must know the deal and that is the time when you call customer service. It took a month of frustration with my local ISP and I ended up buying a DSL modem instead of trying to update my Motorola DOCSIS modem. Otherwise, my local ISP was giving what I need too, they had the bandwidth they promised. I guess the frustration comes from the DOCSIS standard and how locked it is even when you need to do "white hat" things like firmware updates.

The standard itself forces you to get phone support service for trivial tasks. I can't imagine convincing a Philippine guy to force update firmware of a Motorola SB5100 for instance.

it IS their service (2, Informative)

Velex (120469) | more than 5 years ago | (#27374965)

Dear Sir or Madam,

Where I live I currently have two options for broadband: slow DSL (512 kb up/2 Mb down on a good day) or slow Charter cable (768 Mb up/6 Mb down). I currently have DSL installed. Do you know why?

Firstly, let me inform you that the answering service I dealt with during the incident I describe was located in St. Louis, MO, not in the Philippines.

Last summer I was using Charter's cable service. It was flakey at best. One day there was a bad storm that resulted in major flooding in town. My cable service was up the entire time and weathered the storm surprisingly well. However, long after the storm died down and at some point over the next night, my cable service went down for no particular reason!

Throughout the next day, my roommate and I placed several angry calls to try to get them to address the issue without CHARGING us for a service call.

The only thing my roommate was able to determine through his efforts, as I've mentioned above, was that we were speaking with an answering service. That is, we weren't even dealing with a dedicated Charter call center, but an answering service, the kind that also handles calls for local doctors and HVAC companies after hours. It could be possible that we had reached a dedicated department, but he learned that we were not speaking to Charter employees.

During my first call, I had to speak to a supervisor, who informed me that my call to report an outage was not enough for them to take action. She advised me to go knock on my neighbors' doors to find 5 other Charter customers who all had to be inconvenienced by calling in individually before Charter would address the issue.

On my second call, I was able to reach a more competent individual. (As a side note, I work at an answering service, and it can very frequently happen that experienced agents and supervisors are wholly incompetent at doing anything more than saying they can't do anything despite having been given training on customer-specific software. Not that I'm bitter or anything.) She was able to access some actual equipment and verify that 20/50 customers on my node were without service and told me a technician would be able to be dispatched in a few hours.

I was flabbergasted it took that much effort to find someone who could access the actual equipment. When I had a different DSL provider than I do now, the simple act of reaching someone on the phone was enough to get to someone who was able to access the equipment. Sometimes they were able to resolve the problem right over the phone by remotely configuring and troubleshooting the equipment assuming no hardware failure. I can't quite have that with my current DSL service, but their Mumbai-based call center is vastly more helpful than Charter's St. Louis, MO answering service. What's going on here?

Finally, my cable modem synched up later that night, almost 18 hours after it went down. However, their DHCP server was not working, so I forced my cable modem to its last logged IP address and I was back up. Too bad for the people who had to wait for the DHCP and DNS servers to come back up 2 full days later.

That is not acceptable.

Charter's financial problems are directly the result of a free market at work. I could have faster internet, but they pissed me off so badly that I'm satisfied with slower, stabler DSL service to have access to competent support. It's very refreshing to be able to speak with someone in 1st level support who knows what an IP address is. Maybe people in Mumbai are more competent than people in St. Louis.

Thank you.

Re:Could it be their service? (1)

Teckla (630646) | more than 5 years ago | (#27371547)

I was a cable internet customer, with Charter, for several years. It was flaky and crapped out at least once a month, and their service sucked.

Minnesota-based ex-Charter Pipeline customer here. I subscribed to Charter Pipeline for about one year. About half a dozen to a dozen times per day, all my connections (AIM, telnet, whatever) would drop. traceroute would show packets looping in their system. By the time I got through to customer service, and went through their "reboot your PC, blah blah blah" script, it would be fixed, and customer service would tell me they didn't see anything wrong with my connection.

That, combined with constant latency problems, forced me to dump Charter Pipeline for DSL.

Good riddance, Charter Pipeline!

Re:Could it be their service? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27372523)

Yep, Charter service isn't very reliable. And the amount they bill you each month keeps changing. You have to wait 10 minutes on their customer service line to get an itemized bill ...read out to you over the phone. I don't trust them as far as I can spit, but I can't abide the idea of giving phone companies any more of my money.

13 billion in debt and 27 million customers (0)

Skapare (16644) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370583)

That works out to about $481 of debt per customer.

Oops, wrong number (3, Interesting)

Skapare (16644) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370605)

They only have 5.5M customers. So $2363 of debt per customer. How long will it be to pay THAT off?

Re:Oops, wrong number (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27370635)

It's ok, for the first 6 months, they can pay an introductory rate of only $19.99/month

Re:Oops, wrong number (1)

pmarini (989354) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370809)

you have to add to that the money that they got paid by the customers for their services, let's assume $500/year for 10 years = $5000 (per customer), so the grand total would be $7363 per customer thrown in the air (the money, not the customer)

Re:Oops, wrong number (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27371345)

College is getting to me, I see that and think "woah man, watch the sig figs."

Re:13 billion in debt and 27 million customers (1)

spade2k (863371) | more than 5 years ago | (#27371005)

RTFA, Charter has no where near 27 million subscribers, try 5.5 million.

That bastard Bill Gates at it again! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27370599)

Again, the personal vendetta of Bill Gates against Paul Allen rears its ugly head. Microsoft's "computers everywhere" program has driven yet another company into early bankrupcy.
I don't have any proof or don't know how it remotely relates to the story, but since this IS Slashdot, I'm hoping that an anti-Microsoft, anti-Bill Gates rant will get me some Karma.

haha: my captcha is "ranter"

Re:That bastard Bill Gates at it again! (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 5 years ago | (#27372417)

M$!

Liquidate the entire damned company! (4, Interesting)

NoodleSlayer (603762) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370655)

As a former Charter customer all I can say is that they should just sell off all that company's assets wholesale. There's a reason why this company is hemorrhaging money, it's not just because of their massive amounts of debt, it's the crappy way they treat their customers.

Charter's customer service made me long for Comcast's we-only-mildly-screw-you service. There was an entire MONTH where Charter in San Luis Obispo didn't know how to configure their damned routers so there was massive lag spikes (~2min lag spikes every 5 or so min) and about 300ms of lag when you weren't in a lag spike. They managed to get it set up in such a way that no one could directly log into AIM (it was possible through services like meebo) and if you called customer service they would first try to tell you that your computer was broken, and then that it was a "DNS issue."

They forced these miserable Moxi boxes on everyone about a year before they were available at retail. Moxi is another one of Paul Allen's ventures, and in short they were using Charter's customers as beta test guinea pigs. Even the sales people in Charter's regional office were blasting those damn things calling them "pieces of shit" in front of the customers!

Re:Liquidate the entire damned company! (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370817)

I used to live in a small town in NC. Because of the mountains it was pretty much impossible to get any tv without a roof top arial. Even with that you could pretty much count on not being able to get more then one channel ( and then badly ) in a given orientation. There were three channels that you could get OTA if you worked hard enough at it. So you either got a motorized system to manipulate the roof top arial or you got cable. The phone compan was actally a little local Mom and Pop. They were nice people but could not offer you much of anything other then dial tone and 2400bps internet over dialup.

Charter was your other choice, they could give phone, cable, and *caugh* 3Mbps internet.
Frankly the cable service was not that bad. They were even offering some HD, although I did not have and HD set at the time. I don't what the picture quality was like on analog as I had digital cable. The box was on of those giant Motorolla things; a little bigger than a vcr. I can't complain about other than the size.

The internet access on the other hand was awful. I never saw more than 600Kbps to 700Kbps to any host. My current 1.5M DSL with SpeakEasy is much faster. I saw latencies with Charter about like you did 240-500ms most of the time. I never had problems with AIM or the "spikes" though. VOIP was certainly impossible; to much jitter. The connection would drop once a week or so; which really would not have been terrible but for some reason they would never divulge you could not get reconnected without calling the local office, (they were nice enough to give the direct numbers to the local office so you did not have to wade through TS each time).

Re:Liquidate the entire damned company! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27370825)

(also in San Luis Obispo)

I moved to AT&T's DSL at the time that they started pulling that crap and they were great - for about two months. Then the connection would drop for two hours at a time, the lag would spike.. and THEIR support made Charter look good. See, I already had a phone so I got the naked DSL service. If you don't have DSL bundled with your landline, you aren't allowed to pay for your DSL over their website: oh no, you have to call them to pay--and calling them invokes a $5 convenience fee.

I've switched back to Charter now that their connections are 20/2MB and it has been really solid for me ever since then--just don't use their DNS servers!

Re:Liquidate the entire damned company! (1)

WTF Chuck (1369665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27373079)

Does anyone here use their ISP's DNS servers anymore?

Re:Liquidate the entire damned company! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27370863)

It sounds as though people are making the same mistake again. They think that Charter is a communications company. They think that Microsoft is a software company. But they aren't. They are abuse companies that use communications and software to deliver abuse. My opinion, anyway.

Re:Liquidate the entire damned company! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27371427)

As an employee of Charter Communications I resent your stance that you're glad anyone is in financial hardship. I can attest through my own observations and experiences that there is flaws in the customer service side. Since Charter outsourced their customer service department to "Convergsys" and "Teletch" based in locations such as the Phillipeans, the customer service quality has plummeted. The outsourcing companies undertrain their employees and the reps are not armed with much knowledge to properly resolve customer issues. I do believe the backbone is strong however. As with many large companies, there are going to be complaints of problems and inefficieancies. However, as someone with direct communications with customers, the very large majority are happy with their service, especially with the internet side of things. You made the comment on how horrible the moxi dvr's are, and how many customers are frusterated. However, there has been a non-stop demand for these boxes and in some areas its hard to keep them in stock. These are by far our most requested DVR, far over the motorola dvr's. For equipment that is being "beta tested" there sure is a lot of happy customers with them.

Re:Liquidate the entire damned company! (-1, Flamebait)

spade2k (863371) | more than 5 years ago | (#27371581)

As an employee of Charter Communications I resent your stance that you're glad anyone is in financial hardship. I can attest through my own observations and experiences that there is flaws in the customer service side. Since Charter outsourced their customer service department to "Convergsys" and "Teletch" based in locations such as the Phillipeans, the customer service quality has plummeted. The outsourcing companies undertrain their employees and the reps are not armed with much knowledge to properly resolve customer issues.

I do believe the backbone is strong however. As with many large companies, there are going to be complaints of problems and inefficieancies. However, as someone with direct communications with customers, the very large majority are happy with their service, especially with the internet side of things.

You made the comment on how horrible the moxi dvr's are, and how many customers are frusterated. However, there has been a non-stop demand for these boxes and in some areas its hard to keep them in stock. These are by far our most requested DVR, far over the motorola dvr's. For equipment that is being "beta tested" there sure is a lot of happy customers with them.

Re:Liquidate the entire damned company! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27372043)

Is that you Paul?

Re:Liquidate the entire damned company! (2, Informative)

NoodleSlayer (603762) | more than 5 years ago | (#27373723)

That's why PCWorld as worst in Customer service and in practically every single other cateory as well among the 14 Top ISPs [pcworld.com] ? That's why the BBB had previously warned people about Charter's miserable customer service? [archive.org]

Are you one of the customer support reps that LIE to people on the phone when they ask when the installer is coming [archive.org] ?

You can resent my stance all you want, you can pretend that the constant heap of shit you pile on your customers is making them happy, but it seems like there is an awfully large amount of incredibly unhappy customers.

Re:Liquidate the entire damned company! (2, Insightful)

Renraku (518261) | more than 5 years ago | (#27372727)

The more companies that drop out of a particular market, the more the remaining companies will try to screw you.

Look for a massive hike in price at Comcast in the coming months. Either a price hike, tightening of the bandwidth cap, both, or something else that shows how important competition is.

Re:Liquidate the entire damned company! (1)

toddestan (632714) | more than 5 years ago | (#27380063)

I'm not so sure of that. How many places exist where you have a choice between Comcast and Charter? Comcast computes against the local phone company, satellite, and FIOS (where available), not Charter.

Re:Liquidate the entire damned company! (1)

bruceslog (1368385) | more than 5 years ago | (#27379449)

As a former Charter customer all I can say is that they should just sell off all that company's assets wholesale. There's a reason why this company is hemorrhaging money, it's not just because of their massive amounts of debt, it's the crappy way they treat their customers.

Of Course ! Charter let's you know right from the start that the customer doesn't mean crap to them. Before you can even start an account with Charter they let you know that they do not trust you, and that they can break federal laws before they open your account. They do this by insisting that you provide your social security number and running a credit check on you to see if you are worthy of their service. Last I knew, it was against federal laws to insist on obtaining ones social security number before providing a service. Your SSN is your bank account number for the day you retire. It is NOT supposed to be handed out to a cable company for month to month service. Before you can even become a customer, Charter, and it's ilk, are letting you know that they do not trust you to pay your monthly bill, nor are you worth a damn to them, they just want to insure that you can and will always send your money to them regardless of the service they provide. Service which they can deny or reduce at any time of their own discretion. Like throttling your connection at their discretion. When I moved into my new home 4 years ago and went to open an account with my local cable service, and they asked me for my SSN to do a credit check, I refused. I reminded them of the law they were breaking, which I discovered that they were aware of, and, in the end, I never gave them my SSN, and I did not open an account with them. Just Screw them faster than they will screw you. And steer well clear of such an ignorant company.

I heard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27370793)

a Charter ad on the radio the other day and was like "they're still in business?"

They're not all bad (2, Insightful)

geoffeg (15786) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370797)

I know a lot of comments here are going to be about their horrible customer service, unreliable network problems, etc. I know cause I've heard a lot of friends' (in St. Louis, where I live) horror stories. Maybe I'm the only customer that has been pleased with their services. Calling customer service has always been surprisingly pleasant and my issues resolved impressively quickly.

AT&T's U-verse just became available in my area (when I moved here cable was the only option for high-speed internet, DSL didn't reach this far) but I really do not want to deal with the pain of switching my TV, DVR, internet and phone over to a different company. I already give AT&T too much money each month for my cell phone.

Charter has done good by me (so far), they're a local company and I hope they come out of this stronger. Options and competition are a good thing for the kinds of services they offer.

Re:They're not all bad (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370841)

My Dad lives out in Lake St. Louis. He's stuck with his choice of CenturyTel and Charter. A few years ago he had Charter Telephone service, but no cable or high-speed internet. The calls were crystal clear and even the dial up had a better connection back in the day. Two years ago he switched to a CenturyTel bundle, but their DSL service was horribly slow. It was so bad that in when I was at his house for Christmas, my 3G speeds on my iPhone was faster than his DSL connection.

So he switched to Charter for TV/Internet/Phone service. Now they use a VOIP box instead of whatever system they had before. The quality sucks. If two people try to talk at the same time, one can't hear the other. Back in the late 1990's, he used a service called dialpad.com to make calls from dial up to my grandmother for free. Well, he had the same problems back then if two people tried to talk at once. Here we are 10 years later, much higher bandwidth, and the same damn problem. A problem he didn't have when he used their service before!

Re:They're not all bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27371537)

I really don't understand you, your prattle is very hard to follow. Question: Have you been drinking?

Re:They're not all bad (1)

Heather D (1279828) | more than 5 years ago | (#27373809)

I recently went from Verizon's DSL to Charter.

The DSL had become unusable for an extended period for the second time in two years. The first time they sent a tech out after a short talk with tech support. It turned out it was a badly configured DSLAM. The tech took several hours to find the problem but they did find it.

The second time it happened it took a week to get them to send someone out and then he spent about five minutes on it and pronounced it normal and left. It dropped out shortly afterwards and stayed out until about noon the next day.

We've only been on Charter for 3 months but so far it hasn't gone down once. Maybe it is crap elsewhere or maybe they just fail on a yearly schedule like Verizon but they've been good so far.

I really hope they remain a going concern. the only other options we have for internet here are a WISP through trees at long range, 3G with caps so low I'd go through them in about a week, or satellite at ridiculous prices.

Re:They're not all bad (1)

Life2Death (801594) | more than 5 years ago | (#27379919)

you mean the 5GB caps? I blow through those in about 2 days. Thank you netflix on demand!

Re:They're not all bad (1)

Ken Erfourth (671941) | more than 5 years ago | (#27390177)

I've been a Charter customer here in Wisconsin for over 6 years. It's for my business. Just high-speed internet, no TV or phone service. I've been quite happy with the service and reliability.

I have DSL from our local phone company. I am less satisfied with the phone company service in terms of both reliability and service. For example, the phone company issues passwords to customers and won't let them change it. That's supposed to improve security, but it really means customers write the passwords on their monitors, or have Windows remember it, and when the computer needs service or replacing, they have no idea what their passwords are.

As a long time Mac guy, and Green Bay Packers fan, I have no love for Paul Allen. But I don't hate Charter.

Its good to be the king (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 5 years ago | (#27370799)

So, as with most bankruptcies, the shareholders will be left with worthless paper, and Paul Allen will end up dropping from 51% to 35% ownership? I sure hope he's fronting the $8B in debt forgiveness for that new share.

Re:Its good to be the king (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27370941)

Equity comes after debt. Back in the day equity also got higher returns. Now days - really, there is no reasonable argument in favor of stocks. They only go up because you're selling them to a bigger idiot.

Re:Its good to be the king (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27371109)

Ha ha of course he's not. The bondholders are giving up that debt in exchange for equity, but it's a little misleading to say they are losing $8B - the bonds were probably trading at pennies on the dollar, so they weren't worth close to that amount.

Paul Allen's pre-Chapter 11 equity was worthless, so he's not giving up anything. Apparently someone is injecting $3B of new capital into the company, mostly as equity, I am guessing Allen must be part of that. But he's not putting in anything close to the $8B face value haircut bondolders are taking.

Re:Its good to be the king (4, Interesting)

pandaman9000 (520981) | more than 5 years ago | (#27371261)

This is actually how the stock market is designed to work. As a shareholder, you are banking on a company's future success, in order to get a return on that investment.

The unfortunate reality is that the way the market actually works, dividends paid out by holding onto shares are very small compared to the money being made by buying and selling at the best times for each. Like any other monetary investment, it helps to fully understand how the stock market works in day to day use, before diving in. I do not get involved in the stock market because of my lack of full understanding of it. I do see and understand that if you put money into most companies on the market, you should expect to cash in those stocks and switch them out at intervals. The result of bad timing is what happened to some of these Charter stock holders.

I really feel that the stock markets give too much importance to showing profits at any cost. companies lie, and do things to get short term profits to keep their stock price supported. I often muse over whether a CEO is running a company or a stock value.

While I am offtopic, i'll also throw in there that the media seems to rely upon the stock market for how the economy is doing. Oddly enough, the stock market is also affected by what the media's perception of current economic climate. This causes some amusing results, as a sudden spike in either feeds the other. While these spikes are limited overall, it still makes for some good entertainment while I wait to get any kind of employment.

Re:Its good to be the king (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27373403)

As a shareholder, you are gambling on a company's future success, in order to get a return on that investment.

FTFY...

Re:Its good to be the king (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27373685)

What do you by fronting?

Reuters has a better article stating that he will have about 3% of the equity (with the ability to purchase more) and 35% of the voting shares:

http://www.reuters.com/article/rbssTechMediaTelecomNews/idUSN1942658120090319 [reuters.com]

The previous structure gave him near total control of the company and much of the bank debt would become more expensive if he gave up that control. Presumably, his bonds and preferred stock are what gave him that equity, I can't imagine that any of his regular shared survived the deal.

Re:Its good to be the king (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 5 years ago | (#27374043)

I sure hope he's fronting the $8B in debt forgiveness for that new share.

Maybe he will have to sell his little [wikipedia.org] boat [google.com.au] (second link is a pdf).

I know, it's a drop in the ocean compared to the actual sums being dealt with, but to think this guy is the second richest guy in Microsoft. At least the Channel shareholders have some idea where the money goes.

Re:Its good to be the king (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27374331)

When you fly your helicopter out to the yacht, you need to call ahead and ask which helipad to land on.

Re:Its good to be the king (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 5 years ago | (#27377295)

I guess it depends on which chopper you used that day.

Paul Allen + too much leverage = BK (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27370991)

It's no surprise that Charter filed, Paul Allen loaded the company with way too much debt during his poorly thought out cable acquisition spree in the early part of this decade. Just look at their footprint, there is no geographic rhyme or reason to it. That has hamstrung the company's operations (any free cash has to go to debt service, instead of investing in cable infrastructure). As a result, Charter is way behind upgrading its network, as any customer of theirs knows. It's no problem for a monopoly, but now Charter is facing severe competition from the telcos and of course satellite. Same thing happened to Adelphia, which eventually was consumed by TW and Comcast. But now the cable cos face a potentially bigger threat - disintermediation due to Internet/AppleTV/Boxee/Hulu etc.

very nice ;) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27371569)

i really like the info at your post.. thanks

No Prescription Needed [noprescrip...needed.com]

Already corrected (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27371679)

It was fixed by the original poster over an hour before you posted. RTFC (comments).

Vendors Hate Them Too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27372503)

I work for a vendor of Charter's (we also sell to other cable operators). They are just as horrible to deal with as a vendor. Clueless employees, stupid cheap (ie worried about saving $5 to the point of having to pay $20 later), and endlessly slow to make decisions. My company has approached them in the past with initiatives that would enourmously improve their customer service (hey we succeed when our customers succeed), denied not because of cost but because they felt they would do a better job internally (let's just say that we've delivered the same service to other customers and they are consistently ranked above Charter in service in the relevant industry segments). On the whole, I second the poster that said let them go under. I know their properties would be bought, and frankly TWC or Comcast would be a blessing to deal with compared to them.

customer service (1)

hoto0301 (811128) | more than 5 years ago | (#27377247)

it took those clowns a month to install cable and internet when i moved into this apartment. after they finally got their act together, they promised me three months of discounted rates. upon receipt of the second bill, they had jacked up my rates and retroactively charged me for my first month's discount.

their bankruptcy serves them right for adding an extra 20$/month to my bill for adding the word "digital" to the name of my cable service.

Almost satisfied with them, sorry! (1)

Life2Death (801594) | more than 5 years ago | (#27379881)

For living in a smaller city (EAU CLAIRE, WI) and having charter as the only big speedy ISP around here, unless i fork money out for fiber, I'm not too dissatisfied with Charter. Really!

Low pings, no apparent throttling, and until i moved to the most densely populated area of town, I got 10mbps on my 10mbps line. True their techs are dumber than rocks - 99% of the time they fail, every time. I make them come out and tripple check everything before they leave, or I'm on the phone and driving 10 minutes to their office to fix it or kiss my ass goodbye.

Cant anyone give you a paper version of whats going on? I asked repeatedly for them to print out any changes "oh we cant do that" - what crap!

Their tv sucks, so hardcore, i cant even get into it. Lets put it this way - their DVR at their office locked up and crashed and wouldnt work again when they invited us to try it...

As a former Charter customer I can say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27379915)

Good riddance. Charter was still born 10 years ago and has been circling the drain ever since.

We tried to get Charter in our apartment in Texas. We couldn't get more than a minute of uninterrupted video without pixalization and freezing. The first tech that come out said that they needed to rewire and we had to reschedule with the landlord's permission. We rescheduled and the second tech said that Charter wouldn't pay to rewire (even though it was Charter's property. This was the cable from the pole, over the roof, and into the attic.) and advised us to keep calling in for credits for the downtime. Charter refused downtime credit stating "Even if you can only watch one minute in ten you still have to pay for that one minute."

We ditched Charter and went with DirecTV. We scheduled a time for a tech to pick up the cablebox; in the eight hour window he didn't show. Rinse, repeat, two more times. We asked if we could just drop it off at a Charter office or mail it in, but that was too simple, they said that equipment could only be returned in person at an equip office that was 60 miles from us. We were not going to drive 120 miles round trip to return their equipment so we tossed it in the dumpster and Charter charged us $1000, $500 each for two cable boxes (we only ever had one????). We successfully disputed the charges and learned a very valuable lesson.

Re:As a former Charter customer I can say... (1)

innocent_white_lamb (151825) | more than 5 years ago | (#27382353)

We asked if we could just drop it off at a Charter office or mail it in, but that was too simple, they said that equipment could only be returned in person at an equip office that was 60 miles from us
 
Wow. I do some occasional contract work for a cable tv/internet/phone company; I'm not even a regular employee or "office", but more of a fix-it guy and I recently became a sales drone (I can sign people up for the service). All along, if someone wanted to cancel their service all they have to do is drop off their equipment with me (modem, digital cable box, whatever) and I send an email to the company to tell them that I've got it. End of story. No hassle for the customer at all.

agreed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27387971)

I have had Charter service for 9 years. My internet is always on, the prices are competitive if you call and ask for a deal, and they are friendly on the rare occasions when I call.

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