I’ve been with Charter for just under 15 years now. Of course, that was my only option in the neighborhood I live in. There was no DSL, U-Verse or FIOS. But that was not an issue as Charter had been pretty solid most of the time. Had been…
I’ve honestly never had any trouble with the Charter TV at all. The Charter Phone is much improved over it’s early days. I used to use the Charter phone as the monitoring phone line for my burglar/fire alarm. In the early years they would do all their phone maintenance over night (rightfully so). But during those maintenance windows, my alarm would realize that the line is down and it would chirp every 30 seconds. You couldn’t make it stop so sleeping was difficult. That has largely stopped.
Then there is the Internet. When I signed up 14 years ago, I believe I got 6 MB. Charter has steadily increased the bandwidth. Earlier this year, Charter upgraded me to 100 MB. I resisted all the overtures from AT&T to get me to change to their newly installed U-Verse network. I continued to resist as they offered to discount my mobile phone bill and give me gift cards. Quite honestly, they couldn’t compete with 100 MB.
That Charter bandwidth was great! Until about August 20th.
On the evening of August 20th, my connection began to flap and disconnect. All evening it would disconnect and reconnect. As some of you know, I am an IT professional. I often need to VPN into work to do things after hours. The intermittent Internet issues made that impossible. So I had to use my cellular data. I was unhappy about that and placed the first call with Charter. They believed that my older Motorola docsis 3 modem was to blame. To replace it, they would need to send out a technician. The soonest appointment was 8/22. So I took it. Those two days were plagued with the same Internet drop and reconnect phenomena. It made the Internet completely useless. Sometimes I would forget and try to stream Netflix or something on Apple TV only to be reminded that such luxuries were not available at this time.
August 22nd arrived as did the technician. He replaced the modem. He tested all the wires in my house and even climbed the telephone pole outside and tested my lines all the way out to the street. When he left, the Internet was back up. This lasted a few hours. Then… dropping, reconnecting, flapping… the same mess began again.
I placed another call to Charter. They re-provisioned the modem and said that all should be well. It wasn’t. But at this time, I was spending long hours at work as we were relocating a data center. When that week was finished, I turned my attention back to Charter and the ongoing Internet issues. Once again they had to send out a tech. The tech showed up on 8/31 and tested all the lines again. This time he caught the issue. Ah Ha, I got you! I heard him say. He told me that the issue wasn’t in my house or with my modem but rather at the tap somewhere in the neighborhood. So he put in a line request to have a line tech come out and check it out. He left the house and said that the Internet should be fixed in about 48 hours.
48 hours came and went. The Internet also came and went, continuing it’s dropping and reconnecting. So I placed yet another call into Charter. They did some troubleshooting and asked me if I randomly turned off my modem periodically (one time for six hours overnight). I laughed a sarcastic laugh and said sure, don’t we all do that!? Of course I don’t power off my modem randomly for hours at a time. Guess what they said? We need to send a tech out. So on 9/4, tech number three came out. He climbed the telephone pole, tested the lines inside and out. He tested the modem. He told me that my wiring tests perfectly. He said that the issue is out at the tap. He was personally going to go check out one of the taps while he was there. And he gave me the standard 48 hour wait time again.
I went out of town that weekend. Upon my return, I discovered that my Internet connection was still broken. In the background I heard the loud crack of the camel’s back breaking. The following day was Labor Day so I took advantage of the off day and went up to the AT&T store. I signed up for the 75 MB U-Verse package. I’ll save $72 per month.
The following day I called Charter again. I told them that I wanted a credit for the past several weeks of unusable Internet service. They did some more troubleshooting and promised that a line tech supervisor would be calling me. Then they forwarded me over to billing. Billing decided that I was only inconvenienced for a total of eight days and that’s all they were willing to credit me. Naturally, I was irate. So I told them to put in a disconnect for all my services effective 9/26. About an hour later, a line supervisor called. She wanted to send out another tech the next day. I refused and told her the story. She claimed that they have to follow this protocol… This inefficient protocol that has resulted in nothing getting fixed and Charter losing a faithful customer. Again I refused and told her that I’ll just endure until U-Verse is installed.
An interesting side note is that the company that I work for uses Charter fiber services for our Internet. I brought them in three years ago. Our contract is up. In addition to that, my company was purchased by another company. The new company wants to get rid of Charter and put in their own Internet service provider. I had been resisting this as Charter Fiber has been solid for us. After this experience, I placed a call to my new boss and told him that I surrender and he can put whatever he wants in here when the contract with Charter expires. Looks like we’ll be getting Windstream (vomit).
Feeling a little vindicated, I went home and tried to watch Netflix… Well at least I still have some real books that don’t require Internet access to read… Here’s hoping that U-Verse will be better.