Tom Olin's blog

Time Warner Customer Service: the worst ever?

Lucky me! I had the opportunity to deal with Time Warner Cable's customer service today. I feel lucky to be off the phone already. Simple problem: A billing notification was sent to an elderly relative's old e-mail address instead of the current one. So I figured I would fix the problem. Yeah, right.

  1. I started with their online chat option. Explained the problem, but "Milly" didn't seem to be getting anywhere, so I gave up after 20 minutes or so.
  2. I called the local service number. Explained the problem again. Woman says, that's a national problem, let me transfer you.
  3. "Rhea" at national sounds like she's in command. Maybe we'll get somewhere now. I explain it again. Oh, no, I need to be in a different department, but she'll transfer me. Thanks, I'm sure.
  4. A guy finally picks up the line. I explain the problem again. He'd love to help me, but he's on the west coast, and I'm on the east coast. He gives me two numbers I can try. He isn't sure which one is correct, but if the first one doesn't work, the second one certainly will. These guys need serious help.
  5. I figure if the second number is a sure bet, I might as well call that one first. Wrong. I get "Dan". He sounds like he has gray matter where it counts, and I tell him up front that TWC is looking pretty sorry today. He apologizes for the difficulties and promises to help. I explain the problem yet again. He understands it but says that I need someone in Technical Support. Great, I think. (I might be an idiot.) Besides, he's in the Albany area and I'm in the Syracuse region. He says that he'll find the person I need to talk to and explain the situation so we can get it cleared up promptly and then all go do something more fun, like banging our heads against a brick wall. I can hardly wait.
  6. And wait I do, but at least he must be making damn sure that the next person knows the score and can actually do something about it. Finally, another guy, "David", comes on line. I tell him that he's number 6 on today's hit parade but give him an encouraging grunt to keep his confidence up. I ask him if he understood everything that "Dan" told him about the problem. He tells me that nobody told him anything. Why am I not surprised? I explain the problem again. He walks through the customer portal so we can verify that I've done everything I should have. Everything looks right. He puts me on hold to talk to a supervisor. 15 or 20 minutes later, he comes back with their theory. Maybe the billing system wasn't updated with the new address I set over 2 weeks ago. (Certainly possible, but unlikely, and they certainly should be able to do better than that with their programming, in any case. But I'll have to go with that.) He says to see what happens with next month's bill. If it happens again, call back. He gave me the number and which group to ask for (Tier 3), along with his extension number.

And that was that. Six different people covering multiple departments and most of the country. And all this for an incorrect e-mail address. Glad it was nothing serious. I've seen a lot of poor customer service in my years, but this one is near the top of the list in terms of incompetence and passing the buck. I'll grant that everyone I spoke to was polite, which counts for a lot, but still. And I suspect the problem will show up again next month. We'll see.

American Violet

I highly recommend the movie American Violet. It vividly portrays much of what's wrong with the American justice system. You should watch it.

Thanks for the Election!

With the election over, I want to thank all the politicians, their parties, and their backers for all they've done. To all of you, thank you ...

  • for all the vacuous promises, wild distortions and gross oversimplifications. They gave us a good idea of what to expect from you if you won.
  • for the barrage of mailings full of vacuous promises, etc. We probably didn't need all those trees anyway. Besides, the flyers can be recycled into bathroom products, which is incredibly fitting.
  • for stonewalling Project Vote Smart and others about your positions on important issues. If not for your obfuscation, the electorate might actually become informed. You certainly wouldn't want that, would you?
  • for collectively blowing over $3 billion on attack ads instead of spending it on something frivolous like disaster relief or cancer research. 
  • for showing our children how people should not behave. Your leadership in this area is exemplary. Now we know what happens to those school bullies we've been hearing so much about. They grow up to become political candidates.
  • for removing all traces of nobility from what should be a noble profession. No chance of anyone mistaking our country for an aristocracy. You put the classless in "classless society".
  • finally, for treating us like we're idiots. It keeps us humble. We might actually be idiots given that some of us voted for you. We take comfort in knowing that whoever won, they're just like us. Idiots.

On 9/11

The next time someone says the 9/11 families are offended by the Park51 project (the so-called "Ground Zero mosque"), please have them read this article by the widow of one of the 9/11 victims.


Frank Rich of the New York Times clearly describes the idiocy of those protesting the proposed mosque in New York City. Justin Elliott describes how the idiocy began.

We call this reform?

Andy Borowitz pretty much accurately describes what's left of the health care reform bill. In his typically colorful fashion, Bob Cesca argues why what's left is still (barely) worth keeping. The sad part is that 10 years from now, we'll still have tens of millions of Americans with no health insurance, and thousands of them will be dying every month for easily preventable reasons. Many thousands more will still be going bankrupt because of medical bills. Americans have long viewed themselves as Exceptional. I always assumed they meant it in a positive sense.

Too late for healthcare reform?

  • Opponents of reform like to use Medicare and Medicaid as arguments that doctors are underpaid by such government-run programs. However, a recent poll shows that 73 percent of doctors support a government insurance plan, whether by itself (single-payer) or in conjunction with private plans.
  • Dick Armey, the Tea Party Organizer of the recent march on Washington and a long-time opponent of healthcare reform, has been receiving taxpayer-subsidized government-run healthcare for virtually his entire adult life, and he'll likely have it until the day he dies.
  • Dr. Andrew Weil writes about how the healthcare reform debate is addressing the wrong issue.
  • Paul Krugman explains how government involvement is the only reason our current healthcare system, as bad as it is, works at all.
  • Bob Cesca nails the idiocy of opposition to a public option.

Moby Dick

Frank Rich has an excellent column on Mr. Cheney. As does Richard Clarke.

The Devil We Know

I highly recommend the book The Devil We Know: Dealing with the New Iranian Superpower by Robert Baer. It turns on its head the conventional wisdom about Iran and how we should deal with it. The author spends the first two-thirds of the book showing how Iran is increasing its power and influence, in large part thanks to the very actions taken by the U.S. to contain it. The rest of the book explains why Iran might turn out to be our best strategic friend in the Middle East. I'd like to find other experts who support the author's ideas, but he makes a compelling argument on his own.

On Cheney on Torture

In honor of Dick Cheney's recent cheerleading for torture, I refer you to some interesting reading on the subject:

  • Bob Cesca makes a compelling argument that Cheney wants everyone to focus on the rights and wrongs of torture so nobody will bother going the next step to the reasons why he and Bush were so much in favor of it: namely, to get detainees to "prove" a connection between Iraq and al Qaida as a justification for invading Iraq.
  • Paul Begala does a fine job of blowing Cheney's whole "we kept America safe" fantasy out of the water.
  • Reese Schonfeld refreshes our memories on a few inconvenient facts Bush and Cheney would like us to forget about.
  • I get the feeling that Jeffrey Feldman dislikes Dick Cheney. He has his reasons.

Cheney is excellent at diverting attention from the important stuff. Just read Barton Gellman's book Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency for countless examples. He's apparently at it again. Let's hope the American public is up to the task of paying attention to what really matters.


Subscribe to RSS - Tom Olin's blog