Attack of the Corporate Zombies

I just spent two days offline. It wasn’t by choice. My cable and Internet were down for two days. But this story isn’t about that. It’s about how Time Warner, my cable company, handled the situation.

Shortly after I lost service, I called to report the problem, and find out how long it would take to fix. The rep’s questions were clueless and some were clearly read from a script, rather than natural responses. After I’d given him my name and address, he wanted to know what time it was and whether it was AM or PM. Huh? He kept calling me m’am, and telling me that they needed my “cooperation” in order to serve me better and bring me better service. Er, do I have a choice?

He thought it would take 3 hours to fix. The time passes, no service. I call again. The first thing the rep does is to ask me to remind him to tell me about their digital phone service. OK, I have no cable and no internet… do I really want to be completely cut off from the outside world?? Nope. Still no ETA on the fix.

The next morning, I call again. Get the same dumb phone question. Still no answer, but they say I’ll get credit. OK, but the credit isn’t the issue as much as the complete lack of communication or meaningful answers to my questions (not to mention the lack of service).

I call again around noon. I’m told again that I’m entitled to a credit..but I’ll have to call and ask for it! Why? Because, “we can’t monitor your account continually.” The notion that the system can’t be programmed to recognize an outage and automatically credit an account, or trigger a message to a human, is nonsense. It’s not that they can’t. They don’t want to!

Now, why not communicate with the workers in the field so they can get better estimates? And why not give an automatic credit? Or even better, a free movie channel for a month, or even a letter apologizing?

This was a large corporation, but it applies to small businesses too. Are you treating your customers this way?