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Saturday, April 07, 2007


Digital Services in the Fox Valley: The Shadow of Time Warner

Appleton is on the cutting edge of many things - but not always when it comes to modern technology. OK, we've got decent options for cell phone services, and we've got a couple choices for DSL Internet access, but competition is lacking when it comes to cable TV and cable modem. The only player is Time Warner, which we've found to be quite technologically impaired when it comes to some things. Sure, they offer decent broadband for Internet access, but based on a couple of experiences, they are decades behind when it comes to customer service, perhaps most egregiously in the area of bill payment. They are the only company we deal with that cannot adequately handle online bill paying. And when they goof up, it can take you months of wrangling to deal with their antiquated systems and service. Can you hear the word "Aaargh!" playing in the background?

We used online bill pay to pay their bill in at the beginning of January 2007. A few weeks later we received a disconnect notice for failure to pay. They said they had no record of receiving payment. But our excellent bank, Horicon Bank, provided records showing that the funds had been sent to Time Warner and received early in January. My wife has gotten several different stories and several different run-arounds in dealing with customer service at Time Warner during the following three months. Finally, after jumping through their hoops, they told us that all the things we had done to meet their demands of proof of payment -- including having a letter and explanation from the bank sent to them -- did not count after all, and that the only thing they would accept would be for us to physically bring in a bank statement physically to their office to show yet another employee the evidence. As usual, I'm sure we're the only customer in this part of the solar system who has had a problem with this company, so don't worry. I'm sure your experience will be better!
I detest the online bill paying system of time warner cable. It's the pits. I think the gold standard for online bill paying wold have to be WE Energies and the fact I can set up and save a bank profile so I don't have to enter all my credit card info each and every month. Why can't I just approve the transaction and make it happen like WE...Time Warner are you listening? And why did your online bill paying system have to go down for an entire month and its my fault you didn't get paid? terrible service! Whats worse is the amount of blackmail I have to pay to get decent DVR/HD service in this area. They know they have a good thing and charge a premium for it. We need some competition in this area to force TW to have fair pricing and better service.
It may be fair to say that Time-Warner does not have a great billing system, or that the cost is too high. But, I find the service itself to be excellent. Especially the broadband Internet access. The uptime is good. The speed is excellent - I don't detect any bandwidth shaping. And, the few problems that have occurred were addressed in a manner that satisfied me.
Time Warner POed me off a long time ago and I said DirecTV to one of their customer non-service representatives.

DirecTV & Athenet are the way to go.

Unfortunately, where our lot is at I will not be able to have DSL and may have to go for Roadrunner or the DirecTV I'net hookup. Neither prospect is appealing.
Related to telecommunications, is there a better cell phone service provider in the area. We're moving from Chicago to Menasha and have been researching companies but would be interest in any comments about reception - since all the phone companies say they are the best.

Thank! This site has really helped our transition.
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