My wife and I have been buying cable services from Charter Communications since November 2011. Due to a few rather large trees (and the gigantic subdivision that sits next to said trees), Charter is our only option. In the past thirteen months, we have had the following problems:
- We had three cable DVRs die on us. The first met its end during a storm in July. After waiting on hold for an hour, my wife was told that there was nothing that could be done until the following Tuesday. (She called on a Friday.) When she told the tech that we had family from Pennsylvania over for the week, the tech told us to "play board games." I personally took the box to our local Charter office, which was around the corner. They promptly apologized, then gave me a DVR that was DOA. Our third DVR came the next day - it died a month later.
- Not wanting to deal with this crap any longer, my wife and I reached into our savings and bought a Tivo. When we informed Charter about our purchase, they acted as if we ran over their children with a monster truck. We were given a CableCARD which, naturally, didn't work. A technician had to come out the next day to give me a new one. I was charged for both cards and for the visit. (I ended up arguing both the failed card and the visit off of my bill.)
- Before we purchased the Tivo, we noticed that the picture quality was "lacking." What started as a questionable HD signal quickly escalated into a mess of scrambled, unwatchable channels. Charter took the opprotunity to blame pretty much everyone and everything that they could think of - the lines outside, the lines inside, the fact the we buy the faster Internet. The problem ended up being on their end.
- My wife and I are wrestling fans. We have not seen a WWE pay-per-view in our home since May. It's the same thing every single month: We order it, but it doesn't come in. We then spend 90 minutes on the phone with tech support, only to have them either give up or straight up lie to us. In the past seven months, everything from our Tivo to the lines outside of the house have been blamed. We have even been told that we're not tuning into the right channel. The pay-per-views from other "major" wrestling company, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, work perfectly every time.
- Each month we have to call up billing and tell them to remove the unwatched pay-per-view. They end up removing it, but not before treating us like we're trying to steal from them.
- Last October, after missing yet anther show, I received a call telling us that Charter was going to "check the lines outside" for the fourth time in three months. I cancelled the test. I would later be blamed by a supervisor for using this situation to "try to get something for free." According to her, if I really wanted it fixed, I would have let them check the lines.
- We have found that we have been subscribed to services and television packages we have never even heard of. Such services include, but are not limited to, "free" McAffee virus services for our Windows machines (we have two Macs, a Toshiba laptop and a media server running Ubuntu), the Charter Cloud, an add-on to our digital cable package that gave us Galavision and Mun2 (we don't speak Spanish) and the "Ultra HD View," which gave us such can't-miss channels as the Military Channel and Velocity.
- Two weeks ago, we decided that we wanted to reevalute our cable plan. When we were with Dish and DirecTV, this was an easy proposition - simply log into your account and go from there. In Charter land, reevaluating your plan is physically impossible. They are not allowed to email us anything, and getting them too send us something via traditional mail is like pulling teeth. It even reached a point where our customer service rep told us that HE was getting frustrated at their system.
- Three days ago, we called customer service to, for the 40,892th time, inform them about the issues with the WWE pay-per-views. We also told them about our frustrations. Before I continue, allow me to make a few comparisons. A handful of years ago, my mother-in-law complained to her cable povider (Armstrong) that the Internet was slow. They rectified the issue by running brand new fiber optic cable from the local node to their house. They were not charged for the upgrade and haven't had a problem since. My parents have had issues with TCI/AT&T/Comcast dating back to the mid-80s. Each time, they are offered a sweetheart deal to basically keep them happy. Did Charter give us new lines? Did Charter give us a deal? Nope. Charter decided that it would be best to play hardball and blame us for not paying for shows we order.
- After fighting (and fighting... and fighting), we finally got the head of support on the line. He said that he would do whatever he could to fix our issues. He called me back a day later, telling me that the local office wants to "check the lines." (In all fairness, he didn't seem too thrilled about the answer.) He said that they would be out the next day. They never showed. We found later that the service call was cancelled "due to a computer glitch."
- Remember that DVR that I mentioned above? The one that died in the storm? We were still being charged for it. We caught the error in August, but were told by multiple people that we were wrong.
- The local head of tech support came out today to check our Tivo. He also said that we were talking to "Jeanie" on the phone and that my name was Ashley. (He was supposed to "check the lines" outside. And we talked to Josh. And my name is not Ashley.) He proceeded to break my CableCARD, which he immediately blamed on the latest Tivo update. He gave us a new card for "free" - five bucks says we're charged for it next month - and told us that our pay-per-view problem was "really weird, man." He then gave us a number to call when the show doesn't work Sunday. The number will link us to a secretary, who will then email some guy at his home. Said guy will look at our issue "later." His running theory as of now is that it's the WWE fault for improperly routing the shows... and the Tivo. Always blame the Tivo.
- After he left, I called tech support one more time, hoping that they could do something. I ended up getting a lecture on how Tivo is evil and hurts the cable companies. I hung up on him.
The moral to the story: Whatever you do, DO NOT buy cable from Charter. Seriously. Anything is better than them. (Except for the new Boxee boxes. Those are awful.)