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.