Friday, September 17, 2010

Time Warner Cable Austin’s “Customer Service”

Whose Pixel Problem Is It?

Does Time Warner Cable-Austin (TWC) not have a competent engineer on the clock during prime time? If viewers wanted to watch MSNBC Friday, September 17, 2010 they could not help but be annoyed. I was annoyed.

I started trying to watch during “Hardball with Chris Matthews” around 6:20 p.m. Central. I finally gave up and switched to baseball shortly before 9 p.m. during “Rachel Maddow”. OK, so I revealed my viewing choices. This isn’t about MSNBC. It’s about what TWC calls customer service.

Tuning in MSNBC, “Standard Service” on Channel 49, it was periodically pixelling (Is that a word?). The pixels are little boxes and garbled sound when a channel isn’t tuned in. If you use your digital TV converter to pick up live television, you’ve seen this phenomenon before. When you’re tuning with “rabbit ears”, it’s one thing. When you’re watching cable TV, a service you’re paying for, it’s another issue.

Pixels can happen when a satellite transponder isn’t tuned. Rarely the problem is at the source. Most of the time, the problem is where the signal is received, in this case, Time Warner Cable.

Having worked in TV, I assumed (Never assume.) that some engineer was working on the problem. After an hour, I began to wonder. So, I called.

A nice guy—we’ll call him Bryan—said he’d check. Early on, Bryan said that he’d gotten other calls about Standard Cable Channel #49. Hmmmm. Then, Bryan came back on to say that he would reset my cable box. NO! This is the Standard Cable tier. There is no box. Others have complained. The problem clearly is not on the consumer’s end. The problem is either with TWC or MSNBC. Bryan seemed to understand. He put me on hold again.

He came back with this suggestion: He’d give me a telephone number, and I could call the network. NO! No, Bryan. “It’s TWC’s job to call the network, not mine. I’m buying the service, and you’re the provider of the service,” I said. He put me on hold again.

When he came back, I asked if TWC had an engineer on duty. An engineer should check the satellite transponder and tweak it until it is tuned, or the engineer should call their provider. He put me on hold again.

When he returned he claimed that they were working on it, and if it wasn’t resolved by tomorrow, I should call back. “No,” I said, feeling like a member of Congress having said “No” so much. I asked again whether they had an engineer on duty who could check on the problem because it could be a quick fix.

I didn’t want to hammer the poor guy whose job it is to answer the phone, but apparently is provided with little information and little understanding of how cable TV works.

He put me on hold again. I said that it was OK.

When “Bryan” came back, he claimed that their technicians were working the problem locally, and if TWC determined that it wasn’t their issue, they’d call the network. I thanked him for his efforts and time. When I gave up, the problem had not been resolved at the Standard Service level.

So, I ask again: Does TWC have a competent engineer on duty during prime time? Now, I’ll add the question, is this TWC’s definition of customer service?

TWC needs competition.

© Jim McNabb, 2010


Anonymous said...

No they don't. They consistently miss or can't tune in our show that is fed out in Sunday mornings...of the first three this year alone I know the had trouble with 2, didn't hear about it this week. Maybe Bryan got it handled!


Anonymous said...

Jim -- it wasn't just prime time on MSNBC. That's the station I keep on low level audio during the day at the office. It did it all during the day on Friday. Grrrrr. KS

The Hypervigilant Observer said...

On the subject of competent broadcast engineering...KLRU 18.3 still suffers from TOTAL SILENCE during BBC World News and other programs.
All the promos between programs on 18.1 are also silent.
What's going on over there ...since 26 UNACCEPTABLE.
There's NOT even a mention on the website about the problem...or when it will be fixed.
Why would anyone ever donate money...when mgmt. shows such callous indifference to its audience?
Lex Wadelski

Anonymous said...

Check KVUE's website. Retrans deadline is 9/25 for Belo stations.
Would be a good follow up to your last blog/post.