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Revenge of the Cable Customer

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the spindling-jim-carey dept.

Communications 397

crimeandpunishment writes "After years of poor service and poor reception, years of hoping the cable guy shows up sometime within that four-hour window, years of constant price increases ... it may be payback time for cable customers. Cable TV companies are trying to treat customers better. Considering the industry has long had some of the worst customer satsfaction ratings of any industry, it may take a while to overcome that reputation. But they'd better succeed. Cable customers are switching to satellite and phone companies in droves. According to industry research, cable companies lost five million video customers from 2006 to 2009."

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397 comments

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Golden Girls! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32321826)

Thank you for being a friend
Traveled down the road and back again
Your heart is true, you're a pal and a cosmonaut.

And if you threw a party
Invited everyone you ever knew
You would see the biggest gift would be from me
And the card attached would say thank you for being a friend.

I already had my revenge 10 years ago. (5, Insightful)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#32321830)

It's called replacing cable, satellite and everything else with just the internet.

Re:I already had my revenge 10 years ago. (5, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#32321852)

Also known as turning off the TV and experiencing the truly wonderful show known as "real life". It can be boring at times, but the upsides are worth waiting for.

Re:I already had my revenge 10 years ago. (5, Funny)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322080)

Real life has more commercials than TV. Just saying...

Re:I already had my revenge 10 years ago. (4, Funny)

lul_wat (1623489) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322132)

I run everywhere. It's just like fast-forwarding.

Re:I already had my revenge 10 years ago. (0, Offtopic)

hubie (108345) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322254)

Isn't it funny how your comment, which actually is relevant to the story, gets modded "offtopic"?

Re:I already had my revenge 10 years ago. (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322444)

Also known as turning off the TV and experiencing the truly wonderful show known as "real life".

I bet the number of us that don't even own a TV would surprise.

I can't be the only one.

Re:I already had my revenge 10 years ago. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32321914)

with just the internet.

Buddy, this is Slashdot; shouldn't that be "with just teh intrawebs"?

Re:I already had my revenge 10 years ago. (4, Funny)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322038)

You're correcting my mistake and you can't even spell intarwebz correctly?

Buddy, this is Slashdot

Oh, that explains it.

Re:I already had my revenge 10 years ago. (5, Funny)

tagno25 (1518033) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322050)

Buddy, this is Slashdot; shouldn't that be "with just teh intrawebs"?

This is Slashdot not 4chan.

Re:I already had my revenge 10 years ago. (5, Funny)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322266)

This. Is. SLASHDOT!!
*kicks paper-triangle-football into empty KFC bucket*

Re:I already had my revenge 10 years ago. (1)

Stumbles (602007) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322062)

To hell with teh intrawebs.... I want them tubes so I can drive my F250 down them.

Re:I already had my revenge 10 years ago. (4, Interesting)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322052)

yeah, that's cool... how do you get the internet? I don't subscribe to cable TV, but I get my internet connection from the cable company, because there isn't any FiOS in my area and DSL is crap, so its either cable or buy a fractional DS3, but why bother when cable internet connection is just as fast, if not faster, and cheaper?

Re:I already had my revenge 10 years ago. (2, Insightful)

JerkBoB (7130) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322120)

You can get cable Internet and not pay for TV. I am, anyhow. True, I pay an extra $10/mo because it's not part of a bundle, but $50/mo vs. $90/mo or $120/mo isn't hard math. I take the money I'm saving and buy shows a-la-carte on the xbox 360 or apple tv. Paying for each show seems weird at first, but when you think about it, at least you're directly supporting the programming you want, and not the 99.9% bullshit that's on cable.

Re:I already had my revenge 10 years ago. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322152)

And if you are lucky and live close enough, you can get DSL for less and have better speeds. I pay for lowest tier of DSL here and I get almost no jitter and faster downloads than any of my friends with 5Megabit Comcast with speedboost. All my VoIP comms are rock solid. They cant keep a VoIp connection live for more than 20 minutes at a time.

Re:I already had my revenge 10 years ago. (4, Insightful)

NervousWreck (1399445) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322162)

I pay $15 for DSL but absolutely nothing for TV. It is a law of nature that there is never anything to watch on TV. It is also natural law that people must prove this law by observation a minimum of once a week. Having 15 channels instead of 150 cuts way down on your observation time.

Sports over Internet? (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322432)

I pay an extra $10/mo because [my cable Internet is] not part of a bundle

Where I live, Comcast charges an extra $17/mo, which comes dangerously close to the price of lifeline cable.

I take the money I'm saving and buy shows a-la-carte on the xbox 360 or apple tv.

Can you get sports that way?

Re:I already had my revenge 10 years ago. (1)

tagno25 (1518033) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322124)

A SLA? Guaranties on speed? Ability to resell and have static IPs?

Re:I already had my revenge 10 years ago. (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322238)

I don't know, the 15Mbit cable connection I have at home seems to be quite a bit faster than the 10Mbit/sec cavtel fractional ds3 we have at the office, and there are only 3 people at my location, so it's not network saturation that's the problem. It might be all the test equipment that we have in-line though. meh.

Re:I already had my revenge 10 years ago. (4, Informative)

mangu (126918) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322378)

It's true that for many people the cable company is the same as the internet company, but at least you get a better choice of programming, besides not being forced to watch ads.

Having to pay to watch advertisements is the worst trick the cable companies have done to us, IMHO. And the worst of them all is the AXN channel, where the commercial breaks grow longer and longer during the film. The last time I tried to watch a film on AXN it started at 9 pm. The first break lasted about three minutes. Around 11:30 pm, when the break had lasted for some twenty minutes, I gave up and downloaded the torrent for that film instead.

These days I seldom watch anything on TV. If I have to pay for all that programming through advertisement I have the right to get it any way I prefer, without having to watch those ads. Since in every product I buy the cost of marketing is in the price I pay and the marketing includes the ads that finance TV I have earned the right to watch those programs without having to pay again to the cable company.

Re:I already had my revenge 10 years ago. (1)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322158)

this is the truth and what cable is really scared of, but screw them for not taking care of their Customers. That is that a market economy is really about isn't it.

Re:I already had my revenge 10 years ago. (2, Interesting)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322160)

And that's not only in the US that happens - it's also happening in Europe.

Re:I already had my revenge 10 years ago. (1)

eharvill (991859) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322170)

That's great. Too bad for some of us who can only get the Internet via our local cable company...

Re:I already had my revenge 10 years ago. (1)

elashish14 (1302231) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322342)

Seriously? What kind of TV service was available with the internet 10 years ago? I was still on dial-up and stayed there until we got DSL back in 2004 I think.... And even then there wasn't that much available in the way of TV on the internet.

Thankfully that's changed now though. Hope the cable companies learn how to adapt... and not just by raising internet prices/screwing the customers over in some other way. It's fortunate for them that satellite internet is (and probably always will be) so crappy. Don't think they'll ever match FiOS though. Speaking of which, maybe this will make them get cracking on DOCSIS 3?

Right (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32321832)

Because the phone company is known for their warm, friendly, helpful customer service. Can't speak for satellite, but my years with DSL with SBC yielded only marginal support at best.

Re:Right (2)

PhongUK (1301747) | more than 4 years ago | (#32321994)

Not sure why this is marked as flamebait, he's drawing a relevant comparison between the services mentioned in TFA.

Nothing new (4, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 4 years ago | (#32321836)

Time Warner, at least here in north central NC, has been making a concerted effort for the last several years, and actually has pretty darn good service. Their broadband is almost never down. They almost always show up when they say they will, you can get someone on the phone typically within 5 minutes, and the people on their phone support seem to actually know what they are talking about. Yes, they are still too expensive, but service hasn't really been an issue for me. We are moving our business phones and internet access to their business class service as it will save us around $30k a year, so we will see how that works out, but other than price for home service, I'm pretty happy with them.

Favorite (5, Funny)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 4 years ago | (#32321884)

My favorite is being on the phone with the cable company after the 4-hour window:
"Hi, I had an appointment, but nobody came"
"It says here nobody was home."
"Listen to me, I took a day off work, in order to sit here and wait for someone who didn't come. A day I could've used to make a 3-day weekend and go somewhere warm. I certainly was in my god damn house"
"Would you like to reschedule?"
"Can I schedule it so that I don't have to take a full day?"
"We can offer you 12pm-4pm or 11am-3pm"
"Will the technician come this time?"
"The technician will arrive within 30 minutes of the 4-hour window"
"So you mean it's a 5 hour window"
"And you need to be at home" /slams the receiver.

Re:Favorite (2)

trajik2600 (944364) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322138)

I had one of those and took a day off, and the part where I chewed them out was almost identical to yours. The only difference was they scheduled the guy to come out in a four hour window, and after he never showed, I called and was told he did already came.

"The service technician was already there. Do you still have the problem?"

"No."

"Thanks for telling me I needed to be at home then. Vacation time isn't free!"

The guy fixed whatever was to be fixed without ever coming inside, and also without ever telling me he fixed anything.

Re:Favorite (1)

kingsack (779872) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322184)

This is complete and utter BS and really needs to be stopped. My suggestion - if they fail to show in the required window, for Any reason, they are liable to you for a days pay at whatever your current rate is. To document that they did , ideed show up, in the event that the customer truly is not there (a very small probability, IMHO) they would need to show a timed photograph of the door to the residence, another with their truck in the driveway or lot and phone records showing calls being made immediately before arrival (cellular if at all possible, particularly in the case of customerss using their VOIP services) and which go unanswered. And yes even if the calls are not answered they woukld stuill be required to show up at the door, and ring or knock, may even need to require a sound recording for that.

Re:Favorite (1)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322264)

This is complete and utter BS and really needs to be stopped. My suggestion - if they fail to show in the required window, for Any reason, they are liable to you for a days pay at whatever your current rate is. To document that they did , ideed show up, in the event that the customer truly is not there (a very small probability, IMHO) they would need to show a timed photograph of the door to the residence

They'll just take the photo and leave.

Actually, what they should have is the client's signature. No signature = no visit.

Re:Favorite (2, Insightful)

migla (1099771) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322274)

>Actually, what they should have is the client's signature. No signature = no visit.

How could the customer give them a signature if the customer really wasn't at home, though?

Re:Favorite (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32322346)

I _____ (the undersigned) certify that I was not home during the expected hours. Signed _____.

If it's not signed, then I was home. Works for me.

Re:Favorite (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322338)

This is complete and utter BS and really needs to be stopped. My suggestion - if they fail to show in the required window, for Any reason, they are liable to you for a days pay at whatever your current rate is.

So, take them to civil court for your time, and your time in court, and your court fees. Maybe they'll just settle.

Personally, I have no wired services but POTS and power, and I'm considering ditching POTS again. The power company doesn't care if you're home, 'cause they can just shut you off at the panel.

Re:Nothing new (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 4 years ago | (#32321902)

Do you also have a Mini office deal in your local Mall?? (Hanes Mall does)

Re:Nothing new (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322372)

I live in Lexington, we don't have a mall, we have "Uptown", complete with "Pigs In The City" as you know. When we want to go to a real mall, we either go to Hanes or Four Seasons (I work N of GSO), or perhaps Concord Mills where they have a Bass Pro shop. ;)

Re:Nothing new (1)

Miros (734652) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322060)

I know of a campus that went from a leased line to TWc for internet. Unfortunately, the cablemodem+router provided was a POS that couldn't handle reasonable PPS rates for the application meaning that they never were able to take full advantage of the bandwidth provided by the service. It was the only cablemodem+router that TWc would provide/support/allow. Now, I think they are switching to a metro-ethernet provider.

Re:Nothing new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32322068)

That's nice, but that's not what we're talking about at all. We're talking about cable television, not cable internet. Yes, they're both carried over the same wire, and yes, both divisions are run by the same parent company. However, the support people are often two completely different divisions/departments, and one of them has done an excellent job giving a bad name to themselves. Those are the ones we're talking about here.

Re:Nothing new (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322390)

Guess what? I have both and have for over 15 years in this area. Generally speaking, if one goes out, the other does as well. And their support for both is handled by the same office.

Re:Nothing new (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322224)

When I last worked for Time Warner in Austin, TX, (between 2003 and 2006) our tech support motto was "One and Done". Basically, the idea was to help a customer with their technical issue and try and get it resolved the first and last time over the phone. This was done for two reasons. 1. It makes the customer happy not to have to call back. 2. By them not calling back, they tie up fewer TSR and CSR resources in the long term.

Unfortunately, it was often the on-site technicians or dispatch that fucked everything up. I would say half of my incoming calls were directly tied back to a botched scheduling or that a technician (contractor too) left an on-site job half-assed completed.

Day late and dollar short... (5, Interesting)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 4 years ago | (#32321846)

My wife and I just purchased a Bluray player that does Netflix, Amazon, and several other on-demand video services. I also installed an HDTV in the attic and ran the signal down to both of our HDTVs. We still have to pay Verizon for internet access, but we no longer have a $100+ video bill every month.

Re:Day late and dollar short... (2, Interesting)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 4 years ago | (#32321860)

... HDTV *antenna* in the attic ...

Re:Day late and dollar short... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32321972)

Your wife and you, have your own HDTV's? I hope you at least share a bed!

Re:Day late and dollar short... (2, Insightful)

squinty_s (1738438) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322096)

Unfortunately for the sports lovers out there, you still kinda have to have some TV service. You can always pirate the games afterwards, however what's the joy of watching a game after its already ended? At that point you may as well just watch one of those couple of minute summaries they have. Also, no everyone can get more than a channel or two with even a roof antenna since the digital conversion.

Re:Day late and dollar short... (2, Interesting)

Sechr Nibw (1278786) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322188)

That's where the HDTV antenna in the attic comes in. Most live-or-die games are available on broadcast TV, such as the Super Bowl. For everything else, there's either your friend's place or the sports bar.

In My City (3, Insightful)

Codename Dutchess (1782238) | more than 4 years ago | (#32321854)

I know where I live, Charter has a monopoly on cable. There isn't much you can do about it; They've got the fastest internet. They charge you 50 dollars cash on the spot to hook up a modem and provision it for you. Hard stuff. The service techs they send to your house are dumb as hell too. They couldn't figure out the crappy interface that their newfangled modem / wifi router had installed on it. I laughed quite a bit after they couldn't figure out how to enable WPA2. Although, in their defense, the admin panel was designed by someone who didn't know what they were doing. So, basically, there is a lot they can improve on.

Re:In My City (5, Interesting)

Moryath (553296) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322194)

Very similar issues with Comcrap.

First, when they came out to do my install, I was getting a crappy-as-hell signal. Their techs sat around scratching their asses for three hours, and eventually (only after I'd been on the phone with a supervisor behind their backs) finally went out to check the routing equipment, only to find that some ass-tard had simply shoved shit together any which way out there and had broken the lead on the connection going to my house. Elapsed time before they got that fixed: 7 days later.

Then they started rolling every goddamn thing into the "digital only" package. "Doesn't cost any more" except that you have to rent a specialized fucking receiver for each goddamn room you want it in, or if you want to actually use the CableCard function built into your TV, they actually charge you MORE to rent the fucking cablecard.

Then we get to the network crap.

I had three machines; one recently rebuilt, one laptop, one old machine I use for video-to-TV playback.

Video-to-TV box and laptop are configured to OpenDNS. They worked the moment I wired in. Upstairs box, newly rebuilt, started getting Comcrap's "we hijack your traffic" crap-DNS info, kept trying to make me go through a fuck-ton of meaningless registration crap and "please sign up for a comcast.net email" (don't need or want yet another fucking email address) before crashing both IE and Firefox (supposedly they were "in the middle of updating it" for multiple days).

Took me 3 phone calls. On the third call, after calling bullshit on their "well they must be working on it" lie, it then took 4 hours and 2 levels of jumping up and down screaming "just give me your supervisor or someone who goddamn knows what they are doing" to get the goddamn thing cleared. Went through afterwards, said "fuck you" to their DNS servers, and set both the final box and my router itself to use OpenDNS instead.

Every time I have a service issue, I wind up calling them, and some retard in "customer service" insists "well the tool says your cable modem is fine" (bullshit, both cable TV and internet service are down completely, and yes I already went through your ENTIRE TROUBLESHOOTING METHOD you fucking dingbat, it happens frequently enough that I have the goddamn process memorized after all). Then I insist they pass me to a supervisor, who half the time is a complete ass who's mad I took him away from playing his fucking facebook games, and the other half the time admits that yeah, there is either a "scheduled maintenance outage" (which they never inform us of AHEAD of time) or a problem at the local routing station... which they are too fucking lazy to inform the level-1's about.

The only reason I'm on comcrap at all is that my alternatives in the area are crap. AT&T DSL in my area gets maybe 0.5 Mbit down, if that. Verizon FiOS is a mile away but keeps saying that because they don't "own the lines" in my subdivision, they aren't allowed to offer service. Functionally, Comcrap is a goddamn monopoly, and it shows.

Re:In My City (0, Troll)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322268)

They charge you 50 dollars cash on the spot to hook up a modem and provision it for you. Hard stuff.

Of course, that's why they're doing it and you're paying them.

Or else you know, you'd set up your own backbone to the internet and all.

Oh, you mean they should do things for free for you? Because you're such a nice guy?

It's not revenge (1)

Parlett316 (112473) | more than 4 years ago | (#32321856)

It's a reckoning. I've slashed my Comcast to just internet and the most basic nubs tv deal you can get. Thankfully, Verizon came down my road, spray painted the place up and said, "FIOS is coming!"

Goodbye Comcast!

Re:It's not revenge (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32322128)

> I've slashed my Comcast to just internet

Well, me too, but the problem is that where I live they charge the *same damn price* for internet-only as they do for internet + basic cable + VOIP. So my doing this is accomplishing exactly jack shit :-/. It used to be $10/mo cheaper for internet-only, but a few years ago they sent around a nice letter letting me know about their price increase. I called up and bitched heavily, but to no avail.

And it isn't like I have a choice of providers. There is comcast, and, umm.... satellite or dialup.

Re:It's not revenge (1)

Parlett316 (112473) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322236)

Yeah, it was cheaper to have internet + nubs cable than just internet.

Re:It's not revenge (1)

edremy (36408) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322286)

DSL works the same way. I wanted just a phone line from Sprint/Embarq/CenturyLink/WhateverTheHellTheyAreNow and was told that I'd need to pay a "line access charge" for a bare DSL line. The line access charge was $5/month less than having full blown home phone.

Re:It's not revenge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32322376)

Call them again. They recently did away with the bogus charges and DSL is now about $40/month (for the highest speed).

The link is not safe (4, Informative)

mxh83 (1607017) | more than 4 years ago | (#32321886)

It had some chick, I had to close the tab and reload without images

Re:The link is not safe (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32321968)

It had some chick, I had to close the tab and reload without images

We apologize for the inconvenience. We can schedule a technician to come by and check the computer. Can we schedule a 4 hour window? The service fee will be $45, which is non-refundable.

Re:The link is not safe (2, Informative)

tagno25 (1518033) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322032)

The Link is safe, but borderline. The image is just an advert for their "Sex" section.

Bulletproof Glass (5, Interesting)

Skraut (545247) | more than 4 years ago | (#32321892)

I worked for a small(er) cable company 15 years ago, in their community Television department. We covered city council meetings, parades, had several shows about life in Cleveland etc. It has changed ownerships a few times, and is now Time Warner, and I stopped in not to long ago to see if I still knew anybody who worked there.

The entire community TV department had been replaced by more call center lackeys answering angry phone calls, and what was more interesting was the main reception area where people could pay their bills has the customer service reps behind bulletproof glass, and there was an armed guard sitting in there.

If you are doing such bad job servicing your customers needs that you feel you have to protect your employees from customers so angry they might start shooting up the place, maybe, just maybe, you might want to try and improve your customer service a bit...

Re:Bulletproof Glass (1)

rwv (1636355) | more than 4 years ago | (#32321958)

customer service reps behind bulletproof glass

Any business who operates with the expectation that their customers will blindly make larger and larger deposits every month is forced to take this precaution to protect against unruly customers who might occasionally want to make a withdrawal when they find out that their money isn't available.

Any sufficiently advanced business is little more than a cash collection organization, especially when the government can be depended on to pay for critical infrastructures.

Re:Bulletproof Glass (5, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322008)

If you are doing such bad job servicing your customers needs that you feel you have to protect your employees from customers so angry they might start shooting up the place, maybe, just maybe, you might want to try and improve your customer service a bit...

I'll stay away from the whole customer service thing, but, think about the crime angle.

If you had good enough credit to have a credit card, or even a checking account, you'd pay by mail or online or pretty much do anything other than stand in line. Who enjoys standing in line? Now if the monthly bill is only $100 (you wish), and you're paying in cash pretty much by definition of going there and standing in line, and there's always a line, and there are only two reps (probably more), and the rep takes a pessimistic 5 minutes per bill payment (including a 4 minute nap time?), even pessimistically, that's an absolute minimum cash intake of $2400 per hour. Even if you have an armored car swing by every four hours, that means an armed robber can pull an average of $5K but if he cases the joint out to harvest his cash right before a pickup, thats darn near $10K. At an absolute minimum.

I defy you to find a legal small office that pulls in more paper money per day. There are plenty of retail establishments with way more dollars in checks or credit card receipts, but not in cash... Maybe a large gentleman's club pulls in more cash, but then again, they have more bouncers...

Robbers can in fact multiply, even if they have to use a calculator. And that's why they have an armed guard.

Re:Bulletproof Glass (2, Interesting)

discojohnson (930368) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322196)

That assumes 100% of the people are there to pay a bill. In my experience they're there to bitch about yet another issue. In the 4 or 5 times I've stood in line I saw lots of people with a bill in hand (not guns though) and had a problem, like me, with their bill--and I paid online too, it's just more effective to bring up problems in person.

Re:Bulletproof Glass (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322288)

That assumes 100% of the people are there to pay a bill.

Correct. On the other hand, charging at least five times per transaction more than a fast food joint, makes up for a lot.

Even if only 1 in 5 people paid a cash bill, that's still about the same cash flow as a McDonalds. And even McD has people paying by CC and by that electronic "food stamp" card thingy instead of cash.

And in some bad neighborhoods around here, they do in fact rob McDonalds and shoot employees.

I bet a cable payment office has more paper cash flow that some small bank branches (like the ones inside food stores)

Hence, the armed guard.

Now, if the average bill were back to the 1980's and was merely $17 like in 1983, things might be a bit different.

Re:Bulletproof Glass (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32322164)

In my experience, the cable companies were incompetent all around and existed only because they had local monopolies. I worked at a engineering/construction company that built cable networks. Our normal business cycle was, get hired and get plans from the cable company. Review plans then tell the cable company their plans are flawed and the network won't work. Listen to their angry rants then get them to sign a paper saying we told them so. Build network, making note of all the places their diagrams f the existing network were just wrong and disclosing to them the errors. Get paid. Wait for them to come and ask us why the network does not function. Sign second contract to re-engineer and fix the network. Rebuild the network the way we would have done it the first time if they'd listened to our engineers. All those costs got passed on to the customers and this happened for almost every single contract.

Re:Bulletproof Glass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32322200)

It's Cleveland...

Why I switched from Cablevision to FIOS (5, Informative)

arkham6 (24514) | more than 4 years ago | (#32321910)

Simple. The three plan (Internet, TV, Phone) all worked out to be cheaper and better. I got faster and more importantly, more reliable internet. When I was with cablevision/Optimum Online I would get maybe 5Mbit speeds that would flake out during prime time hours since they were over subscribed. Now I get 20 Mbit consistently, even during peek usage hours. The TV was a better quality image, more channels and more innovative products (Multi room DVR rocks). Phone is nothing exciting, but since we also have cell phones with verizon, we get a small discount for linking all our bills together.

Overall, I got the impression that cablevision simply stopped innovating since they were the only game in town, and they did not care that much about their customers. They sure got a big surprise from Verizon, and they are calling us up every week it seems begging us to come back.

Re:Why I switched from Cablevision to FIOS (1)

rwv (1636355) | more than 4 years ago | (#32321992)

I still use Comcast. I'll be the first one on my block to be on the phone with Verizon when they finally decide to roll out their fiber optic service to my neighborhood.

I'm also in a seemingly rare area where Comcast has natural cable company competition. Trouble is... it's a company called RCN that (at least for my experiences) sucks worse than Comcast.

Re:Why I switched from Cablevision to FIOS (1)

Suzumushi (907838) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322242)

I was in your shoes until I got the email that Uverse is available for my home a couple weeks ago. My install is scheduled for next week. I can't wait to cancel the Comcast, that phone call will be very satisfying. (I am going to give them a chance though; 'every channel, premium movie channels, foreign channels, EVERYTHING, for life, at the price of their most basic service', then I won't cancel my TV service... internet would still be Uverse though...) I am slightly curious to see if Comcast will improve its service now that it has a competitive market to deal with instead of a monopoly, and in a way I hope that they do. After all, if the companies rolling out fiber put them out of business, then we'll be back to the same bad situation we were in for the last decade, just with a different tyrant.

Re:Why I switched from Cablevision to FIOS (1)

Miros (734652) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322020)

Cablevision has pretty terrible customer service, and their ads have always been designed to mislead (which rubs me the wrong way). But I would disagree that they stopped innovating. In response to Verizon rolling out FiOS service, they began offering service all the way up to the 100Mbit level to compete on what is really their core business: providing more bandwidth. However they are going to have to get a bit more innovative when it comes to providing TV service. Slow cable boxes, limited boring service, and a laughable on-demand system when compared to what you can get on an xbox/roku is not going to keep customers paying their high monthly video cable bills.

Full Disclosure: I am also a former cablevision customer who has been using FiOS for about...four years? can't remember, early adopter anyway.

Re:Why I switched from Cablevision to FIOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32322212)

Verizon will squeeze you on price each time your contract is up. Your TV packages will mysteriously no longer exist and will only be available within bigger split collections, that coincidentally cost more, your net connection is likely to be 5mbps faster - at a cost. If you don't like these changes, you can resort to month to month and pay more than you do now because your deal/package doesn't exist.

If you decide to improve your package, more channels, fast broadband, check your bill. Verizon may have included an early termination charge, even though you're given them more money. This is simple to remove, but you'll spend a good hour bouncing around various departments on the phone before anyone will help you.

Re:Why I switched from Cablevision to FIOS (1)

migla (1099771) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322240)

>and they are calling us up every week it seems begging us to come back.

If a company was calling me up every week I'd entertain the thought of hiring goons to go bust some kneecaps. Then I'd remember I'm supposed to be a pacifist and pursue some other avenue. At the very least, I'd just say "Fuck you" and hang up every time they called if I couldn't automatically screen the call due to hidden or different numbers. Surely there must be a way to get them to stop calling if you'd want to?

Why stop at cable? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32321952)

Last month I got sick of my Comcast bill creeping higher and higher without my consent or notification. I cut it. I get my TV over the air and the quality is _better_ because it isn't compressed further to cram more channels into a finite bandwidth. I paid 17 dollars for an antenna and 40 dollars for a distribution amplifier. That's still less than a month's worth of cable TV. I went back to a copper landline for increased reliability and a cheaper price. I get my internet from FiOS to stream netflix and other internet videos. I suddenly find myself with entertainment that is better in quantity, quality, and price. Who needs 900 lousy quality channels all with nothing good on?

Truth. OTA rocks (2, Interesting)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322278)

When "basic" cable costs $20 or more a month and is basically the same channel lineup you can get OTA, why the heck would you bother subscribing when you can take that first $20 bill payment, get a cheap antenna to hide in your attic, and get crisp, clean HDTV for free.

Since cable availability has been ubiquitous for so long, I always thought that broadcast TV was a dying art; and subsequently that the HDTV rollout was a death-throw or at best an exercise in futility. Now, having canceled my IPTV based cable over a year ago and relying solely on broadcast TV and the internet, I can say that I will have a very hard time ever justifying $50 to $70 a month for cable channels of actual interest.

Suck on that, cable companies.

Re:Truth. OTA rocks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32322410)

simple, that 100$ worth of DTV boxes wont pick up anything for more than random slideshows 10 miles outside of the city

OTA was great, now it is worthless unless you live pretty close to the source

heck I could not even get PBS when I lived in the city

wrong strategy (4, Informative)

hort_wort (1401963) | more than 4 years ago | (#32321978)

The problem isn't when the service men show up to fix a problem -- it's that there's a problem at all. We've had internet outages 20+ times a day since Comcast acquired the local cable company. All they had to do was not touch anything and it would've been fine. But instead, they screwed it up, and have sent people to our house on 4 occasions trying to fix it. They have no idea what the problem is. They don't need help that shows up on time, they need help that can get the job done on the first visit.

They may be providing better service (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | more than 4 years ago | (#32321998)

But more likely they're buying into satellite and internet services. Wouldn't you?

Am I the only one that likes Time Warner Cable? (0)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322030)

i have it in NYC, $130 a month for cable, internet, telephone, DVR and all the local taxes they have to charge.i always have a month of cartoons DVRd for my son to watch. the DRV software is laggy and slow but overall the service is good. can't remember when i had an internet outage. unlimited calling phone is nice along with caller ID info being on the TV when someone calls. i have hundreds of channels to choose from. sometimes i'll turn on Dirty Jobs or some show on Discovery Channel with lots of trucks building something and my 2 year old loves to watch it.

i have more HD channels than I need and it's included in that price. every time i wanted to switch i looked up the competition like RCN and no one had the HD channel selection. or they wanted more money for it. over the last 7 years i had one billing problem. if equipment breaks i take it to a time warner store and get it replaced with no questions asked. almost like the Apple Store.

my inaws have Cablevision with the same package and are happy as well. a few weeks after they got it FIOS came to their neighborhood. They showed me the card and I looked it up. it costs more than cable, less international channels, they nickel and dime you for features included in the all in one cable package. i'll stay with cable.

Re:Am I the only one that likes Time Warner Cable? (1)

Miros (734652) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322100)

Not everyone wants the same things from their providers, and not all customers receive the same quality of care, network, etc. Hey, if what you has makes you happy then that's great! But it doesn't mean that it should therefore also make everyone else happy.

Re:Am I the only one that likes Time Warner Cable? (1)

akboss (823334) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322180)

I moved to Texas and signed up with Suddenlink. Got a wireless router with no set up involved, 200 cable channels, 8Meg internet (usually 10) and unlimited phone for $105. When they said they would be out they showed up. No 11-3 or 12-4 they gave 2 hour windows for service time. I have only had 1 interruption of service (30 minutes) and it was because of Ma Nature. Seems they place crews in various location when they expect trouble so they can respond quickly. Compared to GCI in Alaska this is a breath of fresh air.

Re:Am I the only one that likes Time Warner Cable? (1)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322262)

mine is the same price except it's $12.95 to rent the DVR. Tivo is like $300 plus the service. the Time Warner DVR may not be as good as the Tivo, but it's good enough for my son't cartoons and the 5 shows my wife watches every week

Re:Am I the only one that likes Time Warner Cable? (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322322)

Triple play customers seem to be the only one getting a deal, so you may very well be in the sweet spot of value for the service. Especially when the DVR fills a high value need (just please don't let it do your parenting for you) if you are using it daily it can make a lot of sense.

As a person who wants nothing to do with a local phone line, that leaves me just needing video and internet. Maybe they are pricing it wrong, but I can get 6mbit internet for $35; if I want a "standard lineup" with *one* HD-capable DVR box, it adds about $80 a month to the bill! When I spend most of my time either using the internet via PC or using the internet to watch Netflix, Hulu, etc. it's hard as hell to justify tripling the bill just to get cable service that I would spend less than an hour a day (on average) using.

Or, you can just do what we did... (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322058)

...and forgo TV alltogether. Hockey game on? I'll stream it online or listen on the radio. TV show that seems cool? Hulu or Netflix. Don't even try to convince me that channels like HBO are worth the premium...again, Netflix.

Quick cable companies! (1)

AUSman (1606165) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322072)

Quick cable companies, blame your failing business model on those dirty pirates!

Happy telco customer (5, Interesting)

IGnatius T Foobar (4328) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322076)

As a VERY happy Verizon FiOS customer, I can tell you that cable absolutely has something to worry about. The installer showed up when he said he would, did a good job, and the service is absolutely perfect (and actually came out a few pennies cheaper than the cable company's equivalent triple play).

So it's no surprise that the cable company is running ads that say things like "40% of customers switched back to cable!" (they had to *really* mess with the sample set to get that number) and "we've been using fiber since 1991!" (yeah, fiber to the node, not to my house, and yes, people know the difference).

What's the creepy part? I've become a cheerleader for the phone company. That just blows my mind.

Re:Happy telco customer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32322234)

You must not have been stuck in Verizon customer service hell yet. They lost one of my payments and it was total hell to get it applied to my account. One would think, "cancelled check, easy"...nope. Every taxing authority I've ever dealt with, including the IRS can find your payment if you send them a cancelled check but not Verizon!

Yep, cable operators suck (2, Informative)

William Robinson (875390) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322084)

Yep, the cable operators suck big way.

Back in 2001, when I decided to go for Cogeco, Canada (their reputation was better than others), I didn't believe the mess they made me go through. The installation never happened thanks to time mismatches. And customer care rep had hard time to figure out that I am not going to be home for 24 hours and she needs to give me some scheduled time. That made me finally decide not to go for their service and I told her over phone to cancel the installation with assurance from her that I will not be charged for anything since installation did not go through.

To my horror, after a month I started getting their bills. My calls and explanations made them stop bills, but few weeks later, I started getting calls from some lady looking after Credibility issues demanding me why I haven't paid their bills yet.

I fought back with every evidence I had, discussed with their top guys and sorted it out. But looking at what I have gone through with other operators, I feel Cogeco was far better than other lot. Tells you everything.

I've long said... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32322114)

I'd rather get my cable service from the phone company rather than my phone service from the cable company.

Paying for rent (1)

red_dragon (1761) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322118)

FTFS: Cable TV companies are trying to treat customers better.

As well they have to. Comcast's new digs [wikipedia.org] ain't gonna pay for themselves, ya know.

You know "Biff" used to be a derogatory term. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32322140)

NOW IT'S EVERYONE!!! Biff is taking over the world.

Going it Apple TV-style...for now (1)

Spencerian (465343) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322178)

Comcast's customer service has been good for me, but their costs, not so much.

With a $150/month bill, I turned off the TV side, turned in the receivers and bought a new flat-screen and an Apple TV, which I use through my Comcast internet to download content.

With the Apple TV I can itemize the few cable TV programs I watch, such as "No Reservations" from the Travel Channel and "Mythbusters." The iTunes Store lets me buy these shows as a season for the cost of 1/3 of a month's bill, rather than renting. Being able to buy or rent popular movies on the fly is a nice touch, too.

The Apple TV isn't a perfect solution. But I'm not a typical customer, so I know how and when to record or rip content from other sources as needed. I keep up with live stuff from my HD broadcast antenna. Strange to say, I've not missed national cable news.

For all else, I pull around the laptop and watch it from Hulu. If I really wanted, I'll connect my laptop to the HDTV with a DisplayPort to HDTV connector, straight into the TV.

The biggest problem in going this route is storage. Had to upgrade hard drives as the iTunes content rests on the ATV drive as well as the central laptop HD.

And yes, since the food is good, I like being "enslaved" to iTunes. But I'm more like Colonel Hogan, who only looks imprisoned and steps out of Stalag iTunes every so often for additional stuff.

Comcast's lie first policy. (2, Interesting)

Desolation Row (550944) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322202)

About a year and a half ago, my Comcast internet service failed for about 12 hours on a Saturday evening, so I called to complain. There was no report of an outage, they lied, but they would make a note of it. The next Saturday it failed again, so I called again. They not only repeated the "no report of any problems" lie, they refused to issue me a credit because this was my first complaint (i.e, they claimed I hadn't called the week before).

So I canceled right then. The first available customer service witch made the process as difficult as possible, and insisted a technician had to come to uninstall the internet modem. Of course, no one ever showed up on the appointed day.

Comcast already had their "on-time or $20 guarantee", but when I called to complain, another Comcast witch not only cackled that wasn't I going to get my $20, but proudly boasted that she wouldn't connect me to one of their fake supervisors, and ha ha, in Illinois there is absolutely no one you can complain to. (I did have fun leading them on retaliatory wild goose chases for their equipment over the next few months).

But wait. There is a punch line.

About two weeks after I'd canceled, I got a form letter from Comcast which, after briefly apologizing for the overnight outages, explained that they were incurred during the process of doubling my area's download speed from 10Mbps to 20Mbps.

Heh. If only they hadn't trained their customer service witches to always lie first.

Insight has been doing this for years. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32322208)

Insight has been treating their customers with value and respect for years in the Midwest. Highly recommended.

Goodbye, cable (1)

calderra (1034658) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322222)

In my area, I have two options for internet service: 1) Pay Comcast $60+ for a connection that flakes out constantly, is monitored and throttled, goes out during peak usage, and is subject to change without notice. 2) Pay ATT $20+ for a dry-loop DSL that only goes out for one day every six months or so, but otherwise works as advertised. Either way, screw cable ($60+/mo for freaking TV? You gotta be kidding me! People actually pay that!?), I stream and Netflix all my viewing.

A new holiday? (0, Troll)

kyrio (1091003) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322230)

National Make a Cable Service Appointment and Don't Show Up Day

obligatory Seinfeld reference (5, Funny)

SureshotM6 (1539779) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322276)

JERRY: Well, said he was waiting about two hours. Seemed a little put out.
KRAMER: Oh, was he? Was he? I guess the cable man doesn't like to be kept waiting.
JERRY: You don't seem too bothered by it.
KRAMER: You remember what they did to me ten years ago? "Oh, we'll be there in the morning between nine and one", or "We'll be there between two and six"! (quiet anger) And I sat there, hour after hour, without so much as a phone call. Finally, they show up, no apology, tracking mud all over my nice clean floors. (malice) Now, they want me to accommodate them. Well, looks like the shoe's on the other foot, doesn't it?
JERRY: Boy, I've never seen you like this.
KRAMER: Oh, you don't wanna get on my bad side.

Why I quit cable (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322280)

I've heard that Time Warner is better now, but in late 2003, my internet was down more than it was up. The service monkeys couldn't fix the problems, so I tried DSL. TW claimed their internet was faster than DSL, and it probably was, but the DSL worked nearly all the time compared to 50% for TW. And since I was no longer using their internet, there were no barriers to switching to DirecTV for television.

why I hate Charter (4, Informative)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322314)

I hate Charter, our local cable company, with a passion. We still use them for Internet only because we don't really have another choice. As soon as something else becomes available we'll drop them like a hot potato.

I didn't hate them originally... We've been Charter customers for years - basically because that's the only option for cable TV in our town. We had Bell Atlantic (now Verizon) DSL for Internet, and Charter for TV. I wouldn't have changed anything, but we were moving out of town and couldn't get DSL there. Had to switch to Charter Internet.

On the move day we had a call scheduled with Charter.

We had Vonage for phones, so I'd explained to them that they couldn't call that phone number to confirm that somebody was home. I gave them my cell phone number to call.

We waited and waited... Couldn't make as many trips with the U-Haul because somebody had to hang around the house. Nobody ever called. Nobody ever showed up.

Turns out they were calling the disabled Vonage account, instead of my cell phone.

We scheduled a second call... Made sure they had the cell phone on record... Took out the Vonage number entirely...

They showed up this time. But then they decided that we were actually some previous owner who'd failed to pay some bills. So instead of hooking up our Internet (the TV was already working for some reason) they turned off our TV.

We had to go down to the local Charter offices with various forms of ID to prove that we weren't actually that previous owner who'd failed to pay the bills. Then we got another install date scheduled. And they actually showed up to install things - about a month after we'd moved at this point.

And since we used Vonage for our phones, we were without phones (besides my cell) for that month.

Since that time we've had an assortment of issues. It's horribly unreliable. So much so that we gave up on Vonage and got everyone cell phones.

And the prices keep going up. Eventually we dropped them for TV and went with DirecTV.

The Internet performance is crap. When I call technical support I have to use my old cell phone number to look up the account, because they can't manage to update their records. Their technicians aren't even in the same state as me, so they never know if we're having issues in the local area or not. They just want me to reboot my modem - over and over again. And then they tell me that my wireless is bad, when I don't have any wireless, and try to sell me an upgrade.

Seriously, I will drop Charter Internet as soon as it is possible.

You can't get live sports online W/out blackouts (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322320)

You can't get live sports online W/out blackouts.

In Estonia cable isn't that bad actually (1)

nomaddamon (1783058) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322324)

I've got a choice:
* 41$ a month for 100mbps internet, 80+ digital tv channels and phone from out local telco
* 39$ a month for 100mbps internet, 80+ digital tv channels and phone from out local cable company

I chose cable since telco requires you to use a set-top box in addition to your tv (yey for another remote!)

Am I the odd man out here? (0)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322332)

In the 15+ years I've been on my own I can count the number of times that I've had to call any of the utlities on one hand and most of those times are just to call up and schedule an install. Yet all around me all I hear is complaints about service. Am I just lucky, or do people just need to chill out a little bit?

The Last Straw (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322386)

I finally bailed on my cable a little while ago. There were a lot of problems, including spotty internet service. The cable subscription included basic TV service, but only because that was cheaper than internet by itself. The rates kept going up and up for no reason. Then they call me and tell me they're no longer going to support my cable modem and I can't buy a new one, I have to rent one from them or they won't support it... but they'll still provide the service... oh and the rates are going up as well. Whatever, I'm too busy to mess with it. Then the cable goes dark because by still providing the service to an unsupported cable modem they meant, we'll shut it off because we don't have the MAC address in our list and charge you anyway... but not tell our customer service department that's what we're doing. After three service calls without the two departments figuring it out, I told them to just cancel the bloody service. Then, of course, they offer me discounted rates, when it is way, way, way too late. Luckily DSL rates had just dropped to be about the same price. AT&T has a monster bureaucracy too, but at least they have reliable service.

a good experience (1)

cedrick12 (1734910) | more than 4 years ago | (#32322428)

The best cable service I ever had was in Columbus GA. There were three local cable companies each had service to the neighborhood. I was renting in an older neigborhood so naturally there were problems with the cable running to the house. But unlike every where else I have lived the cable company I chose did everything possible to make the service work perfectly. After about six months my cable router got fried, I called the company after work and after about 10 minutes with the help desk they called a technician in the area and he delivered a new router at 8pm. He stayed until he verified that all service was working properly. Unfortunately I can't say the same for other places I have lived. I'm currently with AT&T and the service is "OK". Not great, just "OK". My experience tells me that competition breeds excelence.
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