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Charter Customers Warn: Don’t Be Suckered By Their Promises of Better Service – “Charter Blows”

Phillip Dampier May 27, 2015 Broadband Speed, Charter Spectrum, Competition, Consumer News 9 Comments

charter sucks“I thought I was watching Comedy Central,” said Ralph Wilson, a longtime Charter customer in suburban Los Angeles. He was actually watching a Bloomberg News interview with the CEO of Charter Communications regarding yesterday’s formal merger announcement. “What cable company was Thomas Rutledge talking about when he said Charter would bring better service to Time Warner and Bright House? Charter blows.”

Wilson is just one of several unimpressed Charter customers responding to the news their cable company is about to grow more than four times larger with the acquisition of the larger Time Warner Cable and the smaller Bright House Networks.

“They promise you 60Mbps and you are lucky to see 40Mbps unless it is raining,” said Aaron Peters, a Charter customer in Texas. “Then you are lucky if you get anything. You sure won’t get anyone on their support line.”

“I’d rather have my fingernails pulled out than have to deal with Charter,” writes Betty, a 74-year old Stop the Cap! reader in Wyoming. “I’ve had cable out sometimes for five days and when the last time it was out, the slobs that showed up to fix it were shabbily dressed and one had his zipper down. It’s disgraceful.”

“Maybe it will go from F-minus to an F,” Terence Allen of Atlanta told the New York Times. Allen, among others, recited a litany of service problems familiar to many Charter customers around the country: Screen freeze and pixelation, unresponsive remote controls, uneven broadband speeds, slurring and skipping over dialogue, and problems getting a real person on the phone.

For Time Warner Cable customers in particular, it is unlikely that prayers for better service from a new owner are going to be answered.

“‘Not quite as bad’ may be about as good as they can get with this deal,” reflected the Times.

“Charter is not going to revolutionize Time Warner’s service quality, because Charter’s service quality is not that much better,” said Mark Cooper, director of research at the Consumer Federation of America.

Pay for 60Mbps, get 40ish instead.

Pay for 60Mbps, get 40ish instead.

One of the key arguments in favor of the merger is that long-suffering Time Warner Cable customers will finally get faster Internet speeds. Time Warner Cable Maxx upgrades, now likely to be shelved by Charter, were already outperforming several of Charter’s own speed commitments. Charter’s theme pushing faster speeds for one and all might appeal to the broad masses of Time Warner Cable customers yet to be upgraded.

“Except what Charter advertises is often not what they actually deliver,” complains Wilson. “They tell you it’s 60Mbps, but here in LA it is often closer to 40Mbps and when you complain, they claim they don’t guarantee speeds.”

Allen in Atlanta also signed up for faster speeds from Charter, but never got them.

“Their high end doesn’t seem to be very high-end,” Allen said.

He also called Charter to complain but never got to speak a customer service agent. Instead, an automated attendant instructed him to unplug his modem to reset it, to no avail.

“Getting a human on Charter’s customer service line to help you with a problem is a laugh,” said Sue Turner, a Charter customer in Montana. “They keep telling us Charter is better than the last three owners of our cable system because their repair service calls are way down. Well of course if you cannot actually reach anyone to schedule a service call, that works too.”

technical-difficulties2Turner has seen three cable companies come and go in her part of Montana since April 2002. Comcast sold many of its cable systems in the sparsely populated states of the Rockies to Bresnan Communications that year. Cablevision acquired Bresnan in 2010 and rebranded her cable system Optimum West. Just three years later, Cablevision sold all of its interests outside of the northeastern U.S. to Charter Communications, which runs things today.

“Badly,” Turner said. “The biggest problem is the weather which always affects our television and Internet service. Charter has been here six times in two years to try to fix things, but the only realistic way to get service is to go down to the cable office and demand they do something. You don’t get help on the phone.”

“I would say my impression overall of Charter is that they talk very well about their services and their breadth and depth, but quite honestly they don’t deliver very well,” Mr. Allen told the newspaper. “One of the things they push quite a bit is the bundle — telephone, Internet and cable. I would never even consider getting the telephone because their cable and Internet can be so dodgy.”

The Better Business Bureau in St. Louis, which tracks complaints about Charter, found at least 5,183 unsatisfied customers over the last three years willing to escalate matters to them. Most are about problems with Charter service, which would seem to show there is a problem.

Nonsense, counters Alex Dudley, one of Charter’s senior spokesmen.

“Charter takes our customer service very seriously,” Dudley said. “There are millions of Charter customers who are satisfied with our products.”

Shaneice Johnson in Connecticut isn’t one of them.

“Oh my God I thought Frontier was awful when they took over AT&T here,” she tells Stop the Cap! “But then when we switched to Charter my modem has dropped weekly and all I get is attitude from customer service about how they know how the Internet is supposed to be run and it must be my fault. Years of good service with AT&T with no problems but now it must be my fault because their service is off up and down the street? I don’t think so. We need to get some competition in here.”

On that point, many would agree.

“If Charter had Google Fiber here chasing them, I guarantee they would clean up their act, but when their only competition is AT&T DSL, they just don’t care,” said Wilson.

Currently there are 9 comments on this Article:

  1. robmak3 says:

    Sounds like TW is worse than that, at least!

    • Scott in Austin says:

      Doubtful. I pay $40 a month for 50 Mbps up with Time Warner Cable and have never had a problem. Will I get the same with Charter?

      • Alan says:

        Charter will never stop raising their prices. They have no competition like big city areas. If originally from N. Y. You get to choose what company fits your needs and the prices are all reasonable because of the variety of competition.
        In S. Carolina no one can touch Charters internet speeds 60 Mbps for $59.99 for just Internet. But if you bundle the prices never stop going up and up and up!!! My bundle that started at $29.99 + $29.99 + $19.99 is now over $210 a month. That’s almost triple the introductory ( sucker ) rate. And they don’t care. Being on Social Security Disability. They do not give anyone a break because they are a monopoly! When I was a teenager. The government broke up Ma Bell for being a monopoly. Why not Charter?
        Now with Charter buying out Time Warner? There will be no stopping the price increases. We need competition Internet live Tv. This day and age of technology. But being a 3 Trillion dollar company. They pay a lot of lobbyist to grease the right law writers in congress and State Legislatures.

        What happened to free tv?

  2. Josh Emerson says:

    I’ve had Charter for years and they’re actually pretty good. Just tested my speed and got 64Mbps. I’m paying for 60Mbps so I’m actually getting more. I just switched to them for TV as well a few months ago, since DirecTV is terrible and expensive. Charter has me saving $50/month over DirecTV and that includes HBO, Showtime, and no contract. I’m happy.

  3. Bob says:

    Apparently Charter’s service differs depending on location. I live in southwest Michigan and I’ve had very good service from Charter. Every time I have some kind of problem they roll a service crew and they make sure my whole system is working properly before they leave. I’ve had them do everything from installing different signal splitters to running new lines to my house from the main line on the street. Every time I check my internet speed it is close enough to the advertised speed that I have no complaints.

    I do, however, despise their marketing/pricing methods. I don’t have the kind of money available to spend on TV/Internet that they think I do, so I was forced to drop their TV service because their internet service is all I can afford. I would gladly sign up for a lower tier of internet service if they offered it, but they decided that they can’t make enough money offering affordable internet. On top of that, they aren’t very fond of actually letting you know what price you will be paying for your service. I defy anyone to figure out what the actual prices are on their tv/internet services from the information on their website (I refer to the prices after the promo rates expire..)

  4. BobInIllinois says:

    Bob, Cableco’s have much larger profit margins on internet service than they do on TV service.

  5. Unloaded One says:

    I’m a TWC customer and I’m bracing for things to go from bad to worse should this merger go through. I want to be optimistic but they don’t make that an easy thing for the average customer to do. I also worry that I’ll end up losing channels and have other things scaled back to fit Charter’s way.

    I remember long, long ago, when Comcast acquired the local cable company when I was a kid. It was Group W cable. And as the first few months went by, the bill started going up, we’d get letters saying it was happening just because. And to add insult to injury, channels started disappearing. Letters from Comcast indicated that they decided to take them away because they felt no one really wanted those channels. And the downward spiral continued until I moved to another town that had AT&T Cable. Comcast swallowed them also. The process repeated itself. I see the same possibilities here.

    We are seeing an insustry trying to hold onto outdated ideas while trying to figure out what’s next and then refusing to accept what’s next. Interesting times for this industry indeed.

  6. Paul Keleher says:

    I am a Charter customer, and I can report the following experience with them:

    (1) I have had to call them out to replace their cable box 6 times because box after box failed. To add insult to injury, every time they came to replace THEIR rented cable box, they charged my account $50. When I questioned them about this practice, they told me their policy was to charge first for all service calls, regardless of who was responsible, and then remove the charge on a subsequent bill, but only if I called to have the charge removed. I reported this practice to the Massachusetts Dept of Public Utilities, the state agency that oversees telecom companies. They investigated and found Charter’s practice was illegal.

    (2) Look it up to verify, but there is a rumor that Charter was in Chapter 11 not too long ago. Have they pulled out?

  7. OzSpeed says:

    What do you do with the only 100mbps plan Charter offers? Do you run a company of it? Do you resale the bandwidth? We get 6 or 7 mbps from AT&T, use Netflix and have many laptops and ipads consuming the services all the time and simultaneously. All works fine. Charter over the years removed cheaper and slower services so they could justify the price hike. Soon there will be the only available service 110mbps and you will pay even more. 99.99% of consumers do not need these business rates!

    The whole street was down and it took them couple of days to fix it. They do not have enough people to quickly fix what is today an essential utility service (our phone service was down too).

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