Goodbye, Time Warner

by Eric Ginsburg

These conversations are always so awkward and I’m never really sure exactly what to say. We had a good run, and I gave it my all. I just think we’re growing in different directions.

Ours was really a relationship of convenience, if you think about it. You were always there for me but we never had any sort of underlying passion, and I think we both saw this coming. Yes, things have gone pretty smoothly for two years now, but I don’t think you took me seriously over the last few tumultuous months.

I wish you’d call me up, crying maybe, and ask for me back, but I know I’m just being dramatic. So instead let’s just quietly sever our ties. We’ll both find comfort in the arms of others, and my roommate will tell me I am doing the right thing and that the time has come to move on. In a month or two I will have forgotten you and you — well, I think you’ve forgotten me already.

The backstory: When I opened my Time Warner Cable internet bill, I immediately noticed the price had been jacked up. There was no warning, disclaimer or explanation, but our monthly bill was $9 higher than it had been for the last two years. I vaguely remembered the same thing happening last September, and I called right away.

After a grueling 45 minutes, lots of transfers and atrocious hold music, I successfully fought my bill down to a $5/month raise, a minor victory that still felt more like a loss. The one-year “promotional price” that started out when I first moved into my place had expired before, and a phone call had fixed everything when the price jumped after a year, but this time there was no reasoning with them.

The $5/month price increase was the best I would get, and I was told it would only last for six months before I would have to call and argue for the same lousy “deal” they were cutting me to continue. Ironically I received an automated call afterwards asking about how my experience had been, and when the robot posed the question as to whether I was likely to recommend Time Warner to a friend and I said absolutely not, it prompted me to re-answer the question, suggesting that I may have inverted the scale of 1 to 10 it had provided.

When I went in to the payment center on Spring Garden Streeta while later to pay the bill, I was told that the deal wasn’t effective immediately, and that for one month I’d need to pay the full $9 increase price. After a failed attempt at reasoning, I paid the rate I had been promised and called customer service again.

I waited for half an hour and when someone finally picked up, they apparently couldn’t hear me and disconnected the call. So I waited another 30 minutes, with the phone resting on my shoulder on speakerphone as I lay in bed and tried to watch “Downton Abbey” [it’s surprisingly captivating, especially compared to hold music].

This time customer service was more helpful, waiving the difference after I told them that on principle I wouldn’t give them my four extra dollars. The victory was short-lived, however, because now they want that $4 back. Less than a month later I received a notice in the mail that my bill would be going up by $3.95 every month.

In a two-paragraph postcard, Time Warner explained how much they care about quality service, ending with, “As always, we value your business. Thank you.”

So here we are. At this point, I’m not giving Time Warner any credit for notifying me before increasing my monthly bill. The card, which came last week and is effective this month, provides the illusion of choice, saying I “can opt to waive the fee” by buying my own modem, but it has to be from an approved list that only consists of certain Motorola items.

I own my modem, which is inconveniently made by Belkin, but that isn’t the point. The point is that for the exact same service, my internet bill has gone up by $13 in the last two months, a 37 percent increase over the $34.95 I have paid for the last two years. And let’s be real — the only reason it’s rising is because Time Warner realizes it can do it with few if any repercussions.

I wasn’t surprised when a state legislator told me that Time Warner’s lobbyists were the pushiest he had encountered, but that’s not the point either. The point is I’m fed up and don’t have the patience for another long phone call with customer service. The three-strikes rule applies, and I’m back on the market. And unlike when Duke Energy rips us off by upping rates, there are other fish in the [internet] sea. So long, Time Warner, it’s been real.