Wednesday, January 21, 2009

In which I struggle to understand the relationship between Earthlink and Time Warner Cable.

I'm a long-time Roadrunner subscriber. Used to be, I had a $30/month "introductory rate," and I squeezed a second one out of them, and then a shorter $45/month rate for a while, but when I called this morning they were unwilling to extend even this partially-discounted ISP rate. "You have had three special rates already."

I pointed out that Verizon and Earthlink were both advertising cheaper rates. The guy wouldn't budge.

My first bit of research revealed that, even though Verizon frequently sends me postcards advertising high speed internet at a good cost, actually Verizon service is not available in my area. They could save a lot of money on postcards by not sending them to folks who are outside their Pale.

On the other hand, Earthlink IS available. The Earthlink equivalent of what I have now costs $30 per month, so I did an online chat with "Dan," who had trouble understanding the following question: "If I sign up with Earthlink, will you have to bury a new cable to my house?" After I asked it several times he wrote "No," so I signed up with Earthlink, and "Dan" told me the next step was to wait for their installer to call me.

A couple hours later I got a call from Time Warner Cable: "We are calling to schedule your installation." "I don't understand, I already HAVE Time Warner cable, I am trying to cancel it because I've just signed up with Earthlink." "Well, this is the regional number. If you already have Roadrunner, then you must talk to the local people."

I am so perplexed: Why did I need Time Warner's local installation people if I was trying to get Earthlink installed?

I did as they commanded and called the local people with my confirmation numbers, but the phone rep who answered (after 20 minutes of loud Muzak) couldn't handle the situation. She said, "Hold on while I get my supervisor." I held on for another ten minutes, but when she came back on the line, I could hear her but she couldn't hear me (or else she was pretending not to hear). I hung up, called again and waited another 20 minutes.

This time the lady asked, "Have you signed up for Earthlink within Time Warner, or Earthlink from the outside?" The question made no sense to me. She told me Earthlink was PART of Time Warner! But there was also "outside Earthlink." I didn't understand, she couldn't do anything for me, so...

... I called a number I hadn't yet tried, the regional number given by Earthlink in the original chat. Yet another Time Warner person answered! And sent me back to the local people again.

My last local call was not friendly. The lady tried, hard, to upsell me bundled services that would cost three times as much as what I currently have; then she tried to get me to have my current service downgraded to a slower speed so she could offer me a $30/month price. I pointed out: "Earthlink will give me the same service I have NOW, but for $30/month." She got hostile and said nastily, "Well, you can't cancel your service with us until you drive down to our office and surrender your modem."

"The Earthlink people said there would be no interruption in service." "Well, we won't cancel your service until we have our modem back, so you'll be paying for two services at once."

I went back to do another chat at the original Earthlink site. The guy assured me their own person would contact me in 3-5 days, everything would be just fine, Earthlink would deal with all the equipment issues.

Half an hour later I got an email from Earthlink saying, "Contact your local Time Warner installers to schedule an appointment."

I post this in hopes somebody else will know why this is happening.

UPDATE: Next day, I get a robocall from Time Warner - it says "PLEASE STAY ON THE LINE." I got robocalled to be put on HOLD??

A lady answers, "This is Time Warner. We are calling to schedule your installation. I must ask, do you currently have any Time Warner Cable services?"

I patiently repeat what I've told them several times, that I have basic cable and Roadrunner.

She says again, "You have to surrender your modem first."

"But yesterday Earthlink told me they would take care of that for me."

"I don't know about that, let me transfer you to customer service." She puts me on hold again for a while and then comes back: "OK, now I'll transfer you."

She hangs up and I hear the prompt, over and over: "AGENT I.D., AGENT I.D." and I don't have an agent i.d. so the phone disconnects.


At 9:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know why it's happening! It's the never-ending full moon "FELS effect." It has crossed the Mexidoom border and reached your domicile. You now must put an aluminum foil-lined telenvela beanie hat over your modem. And phone. Maybe even your head, next time you talk with those loonies.

OMG, don't you just love cable/phone/internet ISPs???


At 10:11 AM, Blogger melinama said...

Thank you, Doris! In fact, maybe we should start SELLING Mexidoom beanies at Caray, Caray!

At 11:00 AM, Blogger Jean said...

Hi Melinama: I had Earthlink DSL for years and it came over my regular Verizon telephone line. (I just got FIOS.) I guess Earthlink does cable internet too and I'm guessing that it comes over your regular Time Warner cable. I'm pretty sure that they don't have to lay a new cable, but they need to come out and do something so that you can get the service.


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