FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Time Warner Customers of the World Unite!

by

Are you a Time-Warner Internet customer? Have you ever experienced an outage? Have you called the company for a reimbursement? Most people would probably answer “no” to that last question. In fact, most company customers don’t realize that these companies aren’t required to reimburse and, in Time Warner’s case, they usually don’t. You have to call them.

Maybe it’s time to make this sensitive movement for Time Warner a bit more sensitive.

This is already a sensitive time for the Cable and Internet giant because, holding hands with its fellow giant Comcast, the company is asking the Federal Communications Commission to approve what amounts to a merger of the two companies which would give the resulting offspring virtually complete control of cable and high-speed Internet service across this country. Comcast is already the biggest provider of such services in the U.S.; Time Warner is the second largest.

Since they have worked (Adam Smith would have said conspired) for several years to divvy up territory and avoid over-lap and competition, their combination would blanket most of this country’s major (and many smaller) markets. The very goal of the regulations that forced them to split up service areas is now being turned on its head by this proposal. Given recent FCC rulings on issues like Net Neutrality riding the wave of corporate cannibalism that has deeply affected the Internet, opposition to this corporate hip-joining has been fierce and nationwide.

So Time-Warner’s recent Internet outages are causing a bit of embarassment and spreading the concern activists have long had to lots of “regular” customers.

This past week Time-Warner’s service went down for a significant amount of time, ranging from an hour to nearly a half-day in New York, California, Ohio, North Carolina and Texas, and affecting millions of customers. The company explained belatedly that this was a cable problem during “routine maintenance”. Two weeks earlier, the service went down in particular locations for as long as 10 hours. Predictably there was a massive outcry from customers on social media and such spasms of collective complaint are becoming more frequent.

This is the kind of spottiness that Comcast customers routinely complain about. In fact, these two firms suffer from some of the lowest customer satisfaction and confidence ratings in any of the utility and service industries.

That’s critical because this is the Internet. Everyone understands that things are going to go down sometimes and, in truth, Time Warner’s outages are only a small fraction of its on-line time. But for people who use the Internet, the issue isn’t that there are outages, it’s whether they are warned about them in advance or at least told about them promptly so they can take mesures to compensate for the outage.

If you know service is out, you plan your work (or whatever you do on the Internet) accordingly. You can use an alternative connection (if you have a cell phone hot-spot, for example) or you just go do something else. But if it’s not clear what is happening and you’re not sure it’s not your equipment or your computer, you could waste lots of agonized time trying to figure that out. Those who are not tech-savvy may be lost and anxious for hours.

Ironically, this past week, the FCC leveled a $1.1-million fine against Time Warner for not advising customers and regulators efficiently and in a timely way during a 2013 outage.

It appears that the company hasn’t learned its lesson.

But there’s an issue that may not be immediately apparent: where does that fine money go? Not to the customers but right into the Treasury Department’s fines fund, as if its was the government that suffered through the outage. And what compensation do the customers get for their lost service? None! Well…not automatically at least.

Instead, you need to call and file a complaint which will then result in a slight drop in that month’s bill. You have the legal right to call at any time — there’s no deadline for seeking recompense — as long as you tell the customer service person the correct dates of the outage. Under the FCC regulations, they must do the reimbursement.

It’s stunning that, given all the outstanding and powerful campaigns against the merger, no one has organized a campaign for reimbursement for service outages. These guys don’t give you what you’re paying for and we aren’t organizing to make sure they do. So…let’s get started.

You can call the Time Warner customer service number at 1 (800) 892-2253 and ask that you be reimbursed for the August 27 outage. You’ll probably be bounced around a bit but someone will finally speak with you and ask for your service type and area. Then they will reimburse you; they have to.

Some service reps will say something like “we’re already making that adjustment in customers’ bills”. That’s what they told me. I countered that I have never noticed an adjustment in any Time Warner bill for a service outage so why should I believe they were doing it automatically now? The rep insisted that the adjustments are there. “It’s hard to read bills for the average person,” she explained. I didn’t have the heart to continue the exchange but I now know the small adjustment will be there. A good plan would be to have a copy of your bill in hand, including the date of the outage, when you call, and then you can demand to be shown on the bill where any adjustment can be seen.

To be sure, this isn’t the solution to the merger madness, nor should it be the central strategy. Those protests and other actions by activist groups deserve our continuing support and involvement. But it’s something you can do from home in a few minutes and, while it won’t make your on-line life more stable, it might give you a small bit of satisfaction. And if enough of us do it, to both Time-Warner and to Comcast, it could be yet another jab in the ribs of the arrogant, over-blown body this monopoly has become.

Alfredo Lopez writes about technology issues for This Can’t Be Happening!

Alfredo Lopez writes about technology issues for This Can’t Be Happening!

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

March 23, 2017
Chip Gibbons
Crusader-in-Chief: the Strange Rehabilitation of George W. Bush
Michael J. Sainato
Cybersecurity Firm That Attributed DNC Hacks to Russia May Have Fabricated Russia Hacking in Ukraine
Chuck Collins
Underwater Nation: As the Rich Thrive, the Rest of Us Sink
CJ Hopkins
The United States of Cognitive Dissonance
Howard Lisnoff
BDS, Women’s Rights, Human Rights and the Failings of Security States
Mike Whitney
Will Washington Risk WW3 to Block an Emerging EU-Russia Superstate
John Wight
Martin McGuinnes: Man of War who Fought for Peace in Ireland
Linn Washington Jr.
Ryancare Wreckage
Eileen Appelbaum
What We Learned From Just Two Pages of Trump’s Tax Returns
Mark Weisbrot
Ecuador’s Elections: Why National Sovereignty Matters
Thomas Knapp
It’s Time to End America’s Longest War
Chris Zinda
Aggregate Journalism at Salon
David Welsh
Bay Area Rallies Against Trump’s Muslim Ban II
March 22, 2017
Paul Street
Russiagate and the Democratic Party are for Chumps
Russell Mokhiber
Single-Payer, the Progressive Caucus and the Cuban Revolution
Gavin Lewis
McCarthyite Anti-Semitism Smears and Racism at the Guardian/Observer
Kathy Kelly
Reality and the U.S.-Made Famine in Yemen
Kim C. Domenico
Ending Our Secret Alliance with Victimhood: Toward an Adult Politics
L. Ali Khan
Profiling Islamophobes
Calvin Priest
May Day: Seattle Educators Moving Closer to Strike
David Swanson
Jimmy Breslin on How to Impeach Trump
Dave Lindorff
There Won’t Be Another Jimmy Breslin
Jonathan Latham
The Meaning of Life
Robert Fisk
Martin McGuinness: From “Super-Terrorist” to Super Statesman
Steve Horn
Architect of Federal Fracking Loophole May Head Trump Environmental Council
Binoy Kampmark
Grief, Loss and Losing a Father
Jim Tull
Will the Poor Always Be With Us?
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s “March Massacre” Budget
Joe Emersberger
Rafael Correa and the Future of Ecuador: a Response to James McEnteer
March 21, 2017
Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt
On Being the “Right Kind of Brown”
Kenneth Surin
God, Guns, Gays, Gummint: the Career of Rep. Bad Bob Goodlatte
David Rosen
Popular Insurgencies: Reshaping the Political Landscape
Ryan LaMothe
The Totalitarian Strain in American Democracy
Eric Sommer
The House Intelligence Committee: Evidence Not Required
Mike Hastie
My Lai Massacre, 49 Years Later
James McEnteer
An Era Ends in Ecuador: Forward or Back?
Evan Jones
Beyond the Pale
Stansfield Smith
First Two Months in Power: Hitler vs. Trump
Dulce Morales
A Movement for ‘Sanctuary Campuses’ Takes Shape
Pepe Escobar
Could Great Wall of Iron become New Silk Roadblock?
Olivia Alperstein
Trump Could Start a Nuclear War, Right Now
David Macaray
Norwegians Are the Happiest People on Earth
March 20, 2017
Michael Schwalbe
Tears of Solidarity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit, Nationalism and the Damage Done
Peter Stone Brown
Chuck Berry: the First Poet of Rock and Roll
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail