Friday, August 2, 2013

An Open Letter To TWC: Bye-Bye!...

Dear Time Warner Cable:

I write this to you as not your average customer, though a loyal one. Ever since I moved into my apartment in Los Angeles 10 years ago, I have had your cable television/internet bundle. Back in the day, I had the one TV/Wi-Fi combo, then for a short time I upgraded to two TVs and Wi-Fi, now I am back to just one TV and Wi-Fi. The point is that in 10 years I have never strayed from your service and often upgraded to include premium channels and ordering select movies on demand in addition. But as of today, I can honestly say I will be your customer no more*.

I do not love CBS' programs, nor did I even have Showtime as a tier of programming to begin with. My decision to cancel my cable TV service right when CBS went dark is not indicative of my outrage over losing low-brow humor like 2 Broke Girls or Two and a Half Men. Trust me, I'm not sad to see those go. My outrage, however, is with how a billion dollar company like Time Warner chose to handle it.

I fully understand that Time Warner Cable did not make the choice on its own to pull the plug on this programming. The truth of the matter is that negotiations broke down. CBS Networks demanded a high amount of money; Time Warner Cable didn't want to pay it-- out of pride or hubris or "concern for the consumers" or a combination of both. CBS didn't blink and decided to stop allowing broadcasting from TWC. That was their right. And it is my right to not be willing to continue paying for a service that now includes less stuff for the same price.

For weeks now TWC has been putting crawls on programming on CBS Networks and others to warn customers this might happen. They clearly knew that it was a possibility the channels could go dark-- be it for five minutes or five hours or five days. I have no doubt that the problem will be resolved swiftly. In fact, it may even be so by the time I finish writing this blog post. But my decision will remain. Here's why:

TWC couldn't-- or refused to-- consider a Plan B or "worst case scenario." Again, I'm going to blame hubris. Knowing that these channels could go dark-- and most likely would go dark since if you believed all the propaganda TWC was feeding its customers, CBS was a big bad bully in the negotiations anyway-- the company didn't make a contingency plan. They didn't promise to credit customers for the time spent without these channels-- channels that can be obtained by plugging a converter box into the wall and not paying anything per month, by the way. After waiting on hold for 20 minutes to cancel my service, the very hard-working and charming Darryl actually said that "it was a very good point he hadn't thought of" when I noted this. And if he hadn't thought of it, neither had the higher ups in corporate who clearly gave him some talking points and a partial script for calls just like mine. That's a problem. You can blame CBS all you want and say they're "giving [enter city here] a black eye," but they don't service the customers, you do. And you can't come up with something to ease customers' minds for their inconvenience while you sort out your mess? I don't want to be in business with a company like that.

TWC didn't give their customers the option of keeping CBS by paying a little more per month, either. Many customers wouldn't be able to afford this and many more (myself included) would balk at the offer. But at least it would have been an offer-- an option-- some kind of proof that TWC really is working for its customers and caring about their services. I have had TWC for 10 years, and I have never felt so disrespected as a customer as I have in the last few months dealing with the company (Darryl was phenomenal-- but let's face it, Darryl was the exception. The tech support guy I got last time my internet was out was super rude and condescending, and overall I feel like that is how the corporation is run. Things truly can trickle down).

CBS is going to be fine. TWC is going to be fine. Neither company is hurting for money. Neither company can't afford to meet in the middle on this negotiation. It's the customers that suffer. To be honest, I, even, will be fine. I get most of my TV delivered to me on screeners for my work anyway. I can order DIRECTV or DISH or any one of a number of other cable providers in my large metropolitan area (hence noting I am not the typical customer at the start of this). I can afford to stand up on my soapbox and point my finger in "SHAME!" at the shoddy business practices going on here. I can afford to refuse to be a pawn in their ridiculous game of trying to prove a point. It's because I can afford to that I do. It's something I wish I saw these big corporations doing.

Will Go Totally Dexter on Your Ass for Way Less Than Taking Dexter Away From Me

PS If anyone in L.A. wants to cancel or change their service, email me and I will give you Darryl's extension. He really was a great guy who did way more for this company than I feel they are worth, but most importantly he did it all while respecting me even while I was ranting.

* except for Wi-Fi and then only because AT&T U-Verse is still not available in my area

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