by Barb, still home in Somerville, MA recovering from knee surgery, but now venturing out for special guest star appearances
I know hundreds of thousands of people have done this. But most of the people I know who have done it are at least a generation younger than us, habitually watch TV shows on a device other than a television, and have never had a land line.
My husband and I, on the other hand, should be a cable company’s dream.
- We’re happy to pay money for value. If we’re getting services that are easy to manage and that please us, we are happy to pay for them. This extends from the plumber who opens our house every season to cable TV. Give us good service and we’ll pay for it.
- We love television. I’m not going to tell you I’m some kind of intellectual who hates TV. We love TV and in my opinion, television, particularly television from the non-basic channels and streaming services has never been better. If Dickens were alive today, he’d be writing for HBO, etc, etc.
- We’re middle adopters, not cutting edge people. While my husband is a bit more of a gadget person than I am, meaning that we have a bunch of boxes hooked up to our TV and bunch of remotes, in my perfect world there is one remote and one place to go to find television I want to watch–to my cable guide.
- We have to have internet when we’re in Maine. We’re there for the whole season, and we’re working when we’re there.
In other words, despite our older-skewing demographics, we are exactly the people cable companies should be really worried about losing. We are the types who would have hung on forever–if we’d had just a tiny bit of decent service at a reasonable price.
We have cut the cord for one reason and one reason only. Time Warner Cable in has surpassed our previous record holder, Aetna Insurance, as the worst company in America.
The year started off with an $800 cable bill. Without telling us, Time Warner had taken our account off seasonal suspend and loaded it with every premium channel available–at full price. My husband negotiated it down quite a bit, but not nearly close to what it should have been, which was zero.
Since this occurred I’ve talked to at least three other people, people with cottages all over Maine, to whom this happened. If Time Warner thinks $800.00 is an amount most Maine residents, even seasonal residents, will just pay not to have to deal with them, they are off by more than a couple of zeros.
Then there was the internet. Multiple visits by technicians over the summer. To get a technician to come, you have to pass through a gauntlet of service calls, whereby you have to credibly prove they can’t fix whatever it is from their office. Then you have to be home at the appointed time, which is almost never the time they actually show up.
The cable boxes died at some point and had to be replaced. The technician pronounced them “lemons.” The new ones installed had to be rebooted every 24 hours, which wiped out the guide and anything we had set to record. Time Warner support asked, “Is it plugged into a surge protector? The new boxes don’t work if they’re plugged into a surge protector.” This sounded like a total lie to me, the kind of thing people say when they have no idea what is wrong. My husband pointed out to them that if the new boxes didn’t work with surge protectors a) that meant they didn’t work at all and b) maybe it would be a good thing to manufacture them with cords that were more than two feet long.
So it went all summer. Crappy internet, balky cable boxes and bills way too high to justify. I said I didn’t mind paying money for value, but the equation was way off. By August, we’d decided to end what felt like an abusive relationship when we left in the fall.
My husband Bill called to cancel. They briefly talked him into hanging on to the phone, which would allow my mother-in-law who lives with us to keep the phone number she’s had for twenty-five years. After they put him on hold for half an hour to figure out how to do that, he told them to forget it. To mail the boxes intended for shipping back the DVRs to our billing address in Massachusetts and cancel the account.
They said, “no problem.” They also said they couldn’t cancel the account for ten days, but we wouldn’t be charged for the extra ones.
Of course, you’ve guessed what happened. The boxes were shipped to the Maine address and we were billed for those extra ten days. Belatedly, Time Warner service claimed they “can’t” ship boxes to any address except the service address. Which proves they don’t understand the meaning of the word “can’t.”
My husband believes this is all straightened out and we are shut of them, but I won’t believe it until we get the final, final, final bill. Good riddance, Time Warner.
We’ll have to find internet somehow next summer. Fortunately, Boothbay Harbor offers a couple of alternatives.
What about you readers? Anybody cut the cord? How has it gone? Are we crazy?