Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Roadrunners and Meerkats

Author's note: For those of you who don't live in a Time Warner Cable service area, their DSL service is named "Roadrunner." The even go so far as to use the cartoon animal and the "meep meep" cartoon sound.

In the cartoons, Roadrunner ALWAYS gets away from his nemisis Wil E Coyote. In real life, Roadrunner (at least the internet service) is more fallible. Sometime last Saturday (Dec 23) Mr Coyote (Internetus Interruptus) managed to kill my cable modem. Being the good customer I am, I immediately called tech support and, after a decent wait, got to talk to their customer support. With the holiday weekend, the best they could do was bring me a new modem Wednesday.

Fast-forward to this morning. Its 11:15 am, I'm home waiting on the cable guy who is supposed to show up between 11 and 2. I don't know about where you live, but around here public utilities aren't known for their punctuality, so I'm shocked when the doorbell rings, its the cable guy, and he gives me a "new" cable modem. He even comes upstairs and we test it out to make sure I can get on the Internet. At this point I am totally satisfied with the cable company and I head back to work.

After work, I come home and we are trying to use the computer when the cable modem stops working. After several minutes of testing, we determine the thing will work for about 5 consecutive minutes before it needs unplugged. So, again I call tech support- this is where it gets interesting:

First, the menu tells me that if I'm calling about the outage in the Anderson area to press 1, everybody else press 2. (Whoever you are Anderson folks, good luck!)

Next, I go through a couple of other not helpful menus that allow me to enter my phone number and that my problem is with my internet access. Then the waiting begins - the on-hold messages go like this:

"For answers to commonly asked questions, please refer to our website at http://www......."

If only I COULD get to your website! See thats why I'm calling!! If you just let me talk to a live person I could explain the whole thing.

"Please continue to hold. All associates are assisting other callers at this time. Your call will be answered by the next available associate"

Oh great, maybe I'm next???

"Have you upgraded to our digital cable yet. For just a few dollars more a month you can...."

Hey! I'm calling because the service I already have doesn't work - do you really think I'm in the mood to spend more money with your company?

"Please continue to hold. All associates are assisting other callers at this time. Your call will be answered by the next available associate"

Sure it will! I've heard that line before.

"Is the phone your calling from one of our new digital phones? If not now's the time to upgrade..."

Hmm, digital phone service is dependent on my non-working cable modem. So, if I had upgraded, I wouldn't even be able to call tech support! Great idea!

After about 20 minutes of this nonsense, we decide to go to their store located in a nearby mall. There are 5 employees sitting at terminals in a half-circle when we walk in and no customers. After a good 30 seconds (and probably some paper-rocks-scissors under the counter) one of them volunteers to help us. The other four sit there expressionless watching. Before I go any further, let me just say the man who helped us did a very good job (and even gave us a credit for our troubles).

The most surreal part of this experience was that I realized the rest of the staff was watching a TV located on the back wall. Being the cable company, I assume they have access to all 600 channels, things us mere mortals only dream of. And they are watching... Animal Planet. Even we get Animal Planet. And, how do I know they are actively watching the show? Because in the middle of serving us, this exchange takes place:

Worker1: What did you say those things are called?
Our Worker: Meerkats. M-E-E-R-K-A-T-S
Worker1: They're ferocious little creatures, aren't they?
Worker2: Oh, look at that!

Somehow, we managed to keep straight faces and get out with our new modem. Note to the cable company: More folks answering calls, less employees watching TV makes for happier customers.


Blogger Cara said...

Ugh! I hate TWC! I had the digital phone and it was terrible when the cable would go out. One time, I called on my cell during the day and was on hold for 75 minutes! I jokingly asked the rep if I could bill them for the minutes. He didn't find it the least bit funny.

7:32 PM  

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