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Time Warner Cable Customers Bait and Switched to Charter/Spectrum Products

Phillip Dampier January 12, 2017 Broadband Speed, Charter Spectrum, Competition, Consumer News 16 Comments

Milan Gohil’s customer retention promotion with Time Warner Cable was coming to an end. Following in the footsteps of what tens of thousands of other Time Warner Cable customers have done for the last several years – it was time to call and request another deal.

Unfortunately for Gohil, this year the phone was answered by Charter/Spectrum and not a customer retention specialist at Time Warner Cable. That will be increasingly true for all Time Warner Cable customers as Charter continues its gradual transition towards a Spectrum rebrand across the country. That transition for Bright House customers appears to have been already completed. As a consequence, Time Warner Cable and Bright House offers will be replaced with a “simplified” menu of options from Charter.

For Gohil, a Time Warner Cable Maxx customer, those choices didn’t amount to anything except a speed downgrade and a broken promise.

“I had 200Mbps for $60 a month through Time Warner Cable, but the plan was set to expire in a few days,” Gohil explained. “I spoke to a customer service representative and was told I could upgrade to 300Mbps service for $68 a month, including taxes.”

Believing a good deal was in hand, Gohil readily agreed and while waiting on the phone, the representative activated the new promotion. There was only one problem: Milan ended up with Charter’s default internet plan in Time Warner Cable Maxx service areas converted to Spectrum service – 100Mbps.

“I spoke to a Spectrum tech support agent and was told my account was downgraded and that my TWC legacy pricing was no longer available,” Gohil told Stop the Cap! Trying to get his old 200Mbps Maxx speed plan back at any price proved fruitless.

“I was then put in touch with a Spectrum ‘Customer Solutions’ representative and pleaded with them to reinstate my original TWC legacy plan,” Gohil said. “I was told this was not an option and that if I wanted their Ultra 300 (closest option), there would be a $200 activation fee!”

After an hour of negotiation, Spectrum had won the first battle, leaving a dissatisfied customer behind.

“I had 200Mbps just two hours ago and now have only have half of that. I am EXTREMELY disappointed,” Gohil shared. “I would never have agreed to a drastic reduction in speed to save a few bucks.”

Gohil regrets ever calling Spectrum, and is livid customer service could not restore a plan other Time Warner Cable Maxx customers still have and can keep for the next several years, all because a Spectrum call center agent misrepresented a promotion.

Despite’s Charter’s promises to consumers and regulators that their way of doing business would result in better service at a better price for Time Warner Cable and Bright House customers, many of those converted to Spectrum have told us they’d rather have Time Warner Cable and Bright House back, because more options were available and they were at least open to negotiation.

Finding a supervisor at a problem resolution center proved difficult at first. Time Warner Cable’s executive customer service department, formerly reachable at (212) 364-8300 has been taken over by Spectrum and disconnected. Calls are now being taken by 1-800-892-4357, and that is where we referred Gohil, which turned out to be at least some help.

“After an hour on the line with Spectrum/TWC billing and retention, I was able to get 300Mbps for $80 per month for one year,” said Gohil, but there was a catch. “I was informed that it will go up to $100 in 2018.”

But Spectrum has another nasty surprise in store for customers like Gohil looking for speed upgrades: a $200 activation fee.

Spectrum minimizes the chance customers will encounter this fee by marketing only one internet speed tier to most customers: 60Mbps for most Bright House and non-Maxx Time Warner Cable customers and 100Mbps for those Time Warner customers lucky enough to see Maxx upgrades completed before the cable company was acquired by Charter. Most customer service agents are trained to sell this single internet plan, and we’ve found several not trained to offer customers anything else.

When existing Time Warner Cable or Bright House customers are first converted to a Spectrum plan, the $200 activation fee does not apply. But once a Spectrum customer, any attempt to further upgrade broadband service usually results in a $200 fee. Some customers have managed to negotiate their way out of the fee, but it takes some effort and faith the representative isn’t telling you a tall tale to get you upgraded and off the phone.

“After negotiating with the retention specialist, she implemented the 300Mbps service for me,” Gohil reports. “It was implied that the ridiculous $200 ‘activation fee’ would be waived. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if [it] appears on next month’s bill. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.”

For Gohil, cable mergers have never lived up to their promised “consumer benefits” and he’s worried about what is coming next.

“With Trump taking office, it’s certain that broadband consumers are going to continue to be exploited by the telecom duopoly,” writes Gohil. “As a cord cutter and Net Neutrality proponent, I am deeply concerned about the future of America’s broadband landscape.”

Here are some tips from Stop the Cap! for Time Warner Cable and Bright House customers to consider before changing your account.

Time Warner Cable legacy offers in an area not yet switched to Charter Spectrum plans look like this.

If your local area is still being served by Time Warner Cable and their old service plans are still being advertised:

  1. If you are on a new customer promotion, have a rebate offer, or a discount you negotiated to remain a customer, Charter will honor the deal until it expires. However, once your offer or the submission deadline for a rebate has been reached, you will probably not be able to negotiate an extension or new offer. Your rates will either gradually or immediately reset to regular pricing and your rebate will be lost.
  2. Time Warner Cable seems to have ended most of their customer retention deals under the Time Warner Cable brand, but they are still offering new customer promotional offers. If you are an existing customer facing a rate reset, you can cancel service under your name and sign up with a new customer promotion under the name of another member of your household before the Spectrum plans arrive in your area. This is the only certain method remaining to get a discount off existing Time Warner Cable plans and will generally last one year.
  3. You can continue to select any Time Warner Cable legacy service plan advertised on the website, and as long as the transition to Spectrum has not yet happened in your area, you can safely change between those plans. You can also continue an existing plan indefinitely, but you will pay dearly for doing so — eventually forced to pay regular Time Warner Cable pricing which is generally higher than what Charter’s Spectrum plans will cost.

Bright House customers have already been introduced to Charter Spectrum plans.

If you are a Bright House customer (you have already been introduced to Charter Spectrum plans):

  1. If you are on a new customer promotion from Bright House or a discount you negotiated to remain a customer, Charter will honor the deal until it expires. However, because your area has now switched exclusively to Charter/Spectrum branding, your current plan has been grandfathered and you cannot change it without losing it and switching to a Spectrum plan.
  2. Any “promotion” Charter offers you will be based on a Spectrum plan. You will lose your existing Bright House plan permanently if you accept the offer.
  3. Spectrum’s broadband offer will likely default to 60Mbps, which may be a reasonably good deal if you subscribed to a lower speed tier through Bright House itself. Faster speeds may be available but you will need to call to be certain. There is a significant price jump of about $40 a month to upgrade to 100Mbps at regular Charter Spectrum prices. Ask about discounts and if one is available you may want to upgrade immediately. If you decide to upgrade later, you are likely to encounter a $200 upgrade fee.
  4. In general, Charter’s offer for Bright House customers will prove initially cheaper than what Bright House offered before at its regular prices. But most Spectrum plans will increase in price after your first and second anniversary unless Charter changes its rate structure. Charter has also strongly discouraged representatives from renewing promotions for existing customers as they expire, so negotiating a better deal is going to be more difficult than before.

When your area has been fully converted to Charter Spectrum, the available plans will look something like this.

If you are a Time Warner Cable Maxx customer now served by Charter/Spectrum (the only plans on the website are branded Spectrum):

  1. If you are on a new customer promotion from Time Warner Cable, have a rebate offer from TWC in progress, or a discount you negotiated with TWC to remain a customer, Charter will honor the deal until it expires. However, because your area has now switched exclusively to Charter/Spectrum branding, Charter has a demonstrated history of not honoring requests to renew customer promotions, will not honor rebate requests that have not been already fulfilled by TWC and will not be much help if you have to intervene about a missing rebate.
  2. You cannot change your Time Warner Cable Maxx plan features. Once an area has been converted to Spectrum, TWC Maxx plans are grandfathered as-is. If you want to change your plan, you will be offered a Spectrum plan instead. Any “promotion” Charter offers existing Maxx customers will also be based on a Spectrum plan. You will lose your Time Warner Cable Maxx plan permanently if you accept their offer.
  3. Choose wisely if you are thinking of moving from Maxx to a Spectrum broadband plan. Spectrum will usually enroll you in their traditional 100Mbps plan by default. If you already have 200 or 300Mbps service, you may see a significant price change switching to Spectrum unless you can negotiate a discount. If you decide to upgrade your speed later, you will also face Charter’s $200 upgrade fee. There are some promotions available that can get 300Mbps service down to about $80/mo for a year, but it will increase to $100/mo the following year. Some customers have successfully negotiated the $200 fee off their bill, but make sure you ask for the name of any representative offering to waive the fee and keep that information handy if the fee shows up anyway.
  4. Customer promotions are available for existing customers, but you will have to negotiate and you can expect them to be less generous than what Time Warner Cable offered in the past. Also, Charter has strongly discouraged representatives from renewing promotions as they expire. Charter management is on record stating they feel Time Warner Cable’s tradition of extending ongoing discounts were bad for business.

If you are in a Time Warner Cable area never upgraded to Maxx service -and- you are now served by Charter/Spectrum (the only plans on offer are branded Spectrum):

  1. If you are on a new customer promotion from Time Warner Cable, have a rebate offer from TWC in progress, or a discount you negotiated with TWC to remain a customer, Charter will honor the deal until it expires. However, because your area has now switched exclusively to Charter/Spectrum branding, Charter has a demonstrated history of not honoring requests to renew existing customer promotions, will not honor rebate requests that have not been already fulfilled by TWC and won’t be much help if you have to intervene about a missing rebate.
  2. You cannot change your current Time Warner Cable plan without switching to an available Spectrum plan.
  3. Any “promotion” Charter offers you will be based on a Spectrum plan. You will lose your existing Time Warner Cable plan permanently if you accept the offer.
  4. For most customers currently subscribed to a broadband plan up to 30Mbps, Spectrum’s broadband offer will likely be an upgrade worth considering, especially if you are still paying a modem rental fee. Spectrum will widely market just one speed in your area – 60Mbps, and that is the default plan you will get. Because Time Warner Cable already overprovisions their 50/5Mbps Ultimate tier to speeds that approach 60Mbps, Spectrum’s offer will probably be cheaper, but it won’t be faster. Your area will probably also have 100Mbps service available as an alternative, but it won’t be widely advertised. It’s not cheap, adding another $40 a month to your bill. If you think you may want that speed, ask about any discount promotions and sign up at the same time you abandon your Time Warner Cable plan to avoid paying a $200 upgrade fee later on.
  5. In general, Charter’s offer for Time Warner Cable customers never upgraded to Maxx will prove initially cheaper than Time Warner Cable’s regular prices. But the rates might not be cheaper if you negotiated a lower bill from Time Warner during the last year. Many Spectrum promotions initially offered are comparable to new customer deals and you can expect rates to increase on your first and second anniversary with Charter, with regular prices returning by the third year. Charter has strongly discouraged representatives from renewing promotions for existing customers as they expire. Charter management is on record stating they feel Time Warner Cable’s practice of offering ongoing discounts were bad for business.

Currently there are 16 comments on this Article:

  1. Milan Gohil says:

    Thank you for publicizing my ordeal, Phillip! I hope this report opens the eyes of consumers and Spectrum executives!

    • T Nelson says:

      I am a Twc customer in the Rochester, NY area. In November my special promotion program ran out. In the past I had dealt with a retention specialist in the Syracuse office. Since I had his direct phone number I gave him a call all I got was his voicemail. The message states that he was no longer in this position and left a 800 number to call for assistance. I called the number and it was the answered by Dish Network. What a great parting gift he left!

      • The retention staff in Syracuse actually stopped handling those types of calls in early 2016 and referred everyone to the national customer retention call centers that were trained to make you fight harder for a discount. When you dealt with a regional manager, they usually just found the best promotion they could and put you on it without arguing or trying to wear you down. It was the best way to get the best promotion. The national call centers were much tougher and you had to be persistent. With Charter, we are expecting they will be very tough just to get back to back deals. Some companies would rather let customers go than over-discount their products. Cablevision is notorious for that.

        The best thing customers can do in this case is cancel service and sign up under a spouse’s maiden name as a new customer.

  2. George Leon says:

    I was a TWC Maxx 300 Customer. When my promotional period ended, they jacked up my rates. I renegotiated for the Maxx 200 plan & dropped the phone service & they changed my TV offering to their current Pay channel offering, which took away Showtime & Epix for HBO & Starz. I was told doing this would take me closer to my older promotional bill amount, which had doubled post-promotion. Only a couple months later I noticed that I was being charged even more for this lesser tier service. I called & was eventually told that if I wanted to see any type of refund or credit, that small claims would be my only recourse. (THANKS FOR YOUR HELP THERE AGENT MIKE CODE: NLX) I was also told that Spectrum agents don’t have access to notes & account information for anything before December 2016. My new lower cost plan was to take affect with new Pricing in August 2016, only they kept billing me the same amount for 35% less service. I filed a compliant on the BBB website & heard back & was promised to be contacted regarding a resolution proposal in a few days, but that hasn’t happened so far (bben a week) They did however take time to call me & try to get me to switch to their basic Spectrum plan, dump even more service/speed & ask me to pay even more money. Of course I said I had no interest renewing a relationship with a company that wouldn’t honor existing agreements made days before Spectrum officially took control or changed the branding. I stuck with what I have & will continue to needle them on social media & through avenues such as the Better Business Bureau.

    At any rate, in terms of customer service TWC was bad. All I can say about my experience with Spectrum so far is it seems worse, which is really hard to fathom. How can a company not have access to account information for a company they now own? Such liars. Every time they call, it’s “we can get rid of this to get you close” & I say “NO! you just give me what I was promised for the amount advertised”.

  3. dev dugal says:

    i was baited and switched without my knowing. within my 30 day window of TWC promotion year ending, i called to extend. no avail. then i said i would like to cancel. got transferred. the person said what if i can keep things as is and lower your bill, will you stay? i said if everything stays the same and reassured on the phone that that my legacy 200MB plan would stay in tact, the rep confirmed yes. so i said yes and hung up a happy customer.

    later that night, i found out my channels had diminished and so was my speed. i called the following day to find out what you have outlined. they baited me and switched me to a new “spectrum” plan and there was no way to get what i had originally. now they have me as a new “spectrum” customer and can only offer me what they have. they removed my whole house DVR, removed all On Demand Programming, removed Disney Family and Epix and Starz. most importantly, they downgraded my internet speed to 100MB. requesting a supervisor on multiple instances, yielded nothing. requesting call backs, yielding nothing. they keep you on hold for over 30 min and then on more than two occasions, “drop the call”. even if they take down your phone number, they will NOT call you back for a dropped call.

    they are committing fraud. i know my phone records show that i did not agree to this and reconfirmed on the phone that everything will stay the same. the claims they make are to just convert as MANY people to spectrum off the old time warner legacy plans. it’s the kind of stuff that makes you wanna go “postal”.

    ethically and morally it is completely wrong.

  4. Peter says:

    I have 200mbp from previous TWC for $59.99 and they are still keeping that plan still on my account
    but i sensed this Spectrum s**t is going to change a lot of things that will create massive anger to the subscriber
    got a lot a call and thanks god for the caller ID , so i never picking the phone and always pay the bill right on time
    if anything changes on my account there will be 100% lawsuit against them

  5. kdm302 says:

    Glad I read this now. I have TWC/Spectrum in Albany, NY and just opened my bill to a 30% increase for $50/month. I chatted with someone who really tried hard to bait and switch me to Spectrum, which just confused the hell out of me because I thought they merged, but not before him telling me I should be glad because I should be paying $260/month. I am seriously going to research cutting the cord with them entirely. This company sucks even more than TWC. Does anyone know if you cut one or 2 services do they offer you a new deal to come back?

  6. MD says:

    TWC was here in Eastern WA/Western Idaho. (Pullman/Moscow)
    We have the 30 plan, the old “Extreme”, I wanted to get us grandfathered in on the 50 plan, the “Ultimate”.
    As soon as they became Spectrum they said we could get the 60 plan online via customer support chat.
    Went to the local office that was previously TWC office, which did offer the 50 plan as TWC.
    For some strange reason they cannot off the 60 plan, ???
    Speedtest shows us at 36/6.
    I think they’re just jerking us around.

    • The basic Spectrum plan is 60Mbps. It is the only plan they widely advertise. If you log into your account online, if it shows Spectrum Internet on your bill this is what you should be getting. If you are not, there is a problem with the local cable system or your outside line and you should call them out for a service call.

      When you log into spectrum.com and put your zip code in, what internet plan are they selling?

      • MD says:

        It only goes to 30, I know what it is technically capable of because they replaces all of the cables on the entire street, and the previous TWC cable tech, who actually knew the tech specs on the system, said it could handle 50 and above.
        Internet in the USA is a friggin joke… my parents in Canada have the “50/50” plan, it’s 50 up/down with a 450 gig cap, $32/mo…

  7. kathleen O'Brien says:

    Bottom line….GREED ALWAYS wins out…I am a three time cancer survivor and trying to fight for my health and life as many are regarding changes (MORE PEICE HIKES) in Health Insurance..

    IM so sick of greedy MII vested Corporations squeezing blood from stones. And then the whole Net Neutrality thing…keeping an eye on our future there as well.

    Inner feelings and common sense of how the greedy Corporations work ,tell me worst case if I even manage to keep my Insurance. I will drop internet. I will used my antenna on my television until government stops forcing these other MII Vested Companies to stop broadcasting a digital signal free of charge.

    I will pay my bills through utilizing Data on my cell phone.. and I’m sure Greedy Parties will further down the road have an absolute strangle hold on that. it Disgusting.

  8. lakawak says:

    Spectrum’s prices are NOT cheaper than Time Warner’s prices..even without promotional plans. Because Spectrum forces upgrades on people. Don’t want a DVR? Too bad. Don’t have 5 kids who all stream at he same time so you have no need for 100 MB internet? Too bad. You can’t get any lower for less. Don’t want a home phone because you are under 50 and don’t need a landline? Too bad. Spectrum doesn’t offer a Double Play package like Time Warner did. Why should they when they can force millions of people to pay $15-20 more for something they don’t want (plus the extra for the DVR and internet that most don’t need either.) So, in all, they are getting $40 or so from millions of people. Every month.

    And I was told if I wanted HBO, I had to also get Cinemax and Showtime. Now..the Cinemax I could almost understand as they are the same company as HBO. But why would HBO be OK with forcing someone who wants just HBO to pay more (meaning fewer people will get it) and ALSO getting a competitor (meaning less people will watch.)

    There is absolutely nothing good about Spectrum. Their CEO came right out and said last year “WE don’t care that we will lose hundreds of thousands of customers. There are enough customers who have no other options that have to say and we will make any losses on the cord cutters by charging more for those that stay.” Again..tis is what he was willing to publicly say!

  9. Martin Powers says:

    Bright House customer for 10 years; that feels like the “bastard stepson” and wonder who in Washington is watching this stuff. I’ll have my congressman’s ear next time I see he is near. Tried to add one station AXS TV and willing to pay for it ; but no that is forbidden to Bright House customers only Spectrum. You would think we would have started out on level ground at least, even if it would have cost me more when Charter took over. What is the FTC there for?

  10. Ant says:

    Spectrum is so crafty! I woke up this morning to my cable being terminated for no reason at all. Mind me, I was one of the very few customers that was still grandfathered in to Time Warner. In the past I never accepted it or agreed to any Spectrum promotions and or packages. So when I called them about my cable this morning at first they lied saying that my family called to have my cable cut off saying we were moving which is an absolute lie. The only thing we did was request to have Starz Network taking off. And of course they offered Spectrum promotions which once again I turned down. then once I talk to other workers and supervisors they flat-out said it was a mistake on their behalf but they’re sorry they can’t retrieve the codes for My Time Warner package. But the whole time telling me that I need to take the Spectrum promotion and or package if I want to continue doing business with them. Mind me I still plan on suing them for false business practices, and fraud. But it’s an absolute travesty how they turned off my cable for no reason at all other than them forcing me to take spectrum’s misleading promotion. Truth of the matter is being Godfathered in to Time Warner is a way better rate and way better plan but they feel like they’re losing money so they’re scheming everybody over to Spectrum which is totally the customer’s choice but they will never tell you that. I will be starting a social media campaign totally against Spectrum in their business practices and they’re misleading ways and like I said before I’m also suing them. Please don’t be misled by spectrum and customers please know that if you’re still grandfathered in to Time Warner it’s absolutely your choice don’t let them scheme you out but with me I will never fall for it so they did the one thing that they could do cancel my whole cable so they will have to reboot up some bs Spectrum promotion because they allegedly can’t retrieve the Old Time Warner codes. Go figure SMH

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Recent Comments:

  • Dylan: Look at their prices. Absolutely ludicrous compared to many companies, especially Charter Spectrum. I pay $60 a month for 100/10 with unlimited data. ...
  • Paul Houle: For a long time communities have been frustrated in that they don't have any power to negotiate with cable companies. This town refused to enter into...
  • Ian S Littman: To be fair, you aren't wrong. Spectrum likely knows it won't have any competition for years in Lamar, so they'll quickly get take rates of >70% (re...
  • Ian S Littman: Are you in an area that can even get Spectrum service? Because in areas where they actually have to compete, they're actually pretty decent now. Yes,...
  • Ian S Littman: A more odd entry in that list is Chattanooga. The entire area has FTTH via EPB. Yet apparently folks can't swing the $57/mo starting price for 100 Mbp...
  • Ian S Littman: The issue here is that the NY PSC's threats have no teeth because, well, who will take over the cable systems if Spectrum is forced to sell? Either Al...
  • Bill Callahan: Phil, National Digital Inclusion Alliance just published interactive Census tract maps for the entire US based on the same ACS data. Two datapoints a...
  • Carl Moore: The idiots that run the cable companies must be also using drugs...a lot of people are cutting their cable services because of the higher rate and inc...
  • EJ: This will require a New Deal approach. Municipals need the ability to either be granted money or loaned money for broadband expansion. Until this is d...
  • Bob: I also got $1 increase for my 100/10 internet from Spectrum. A rep said it's for the speed increase that's coming in 2019. I complained that I was pro...
  • EJ: It makes sense to focus on wireless considering the government contract they have. The strange thing is they referenced fixed wireless in this article...
  • nick: Interesting how they conveniently leave out (Spectrum TV Choice) streaming service which is also $30/mo ($25/mo for the first 2 years)....

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