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The Kil Report
The Kil Report: Alternative Medicine,Scientific Method, Evil Skeptic, Scams, Fraud, Hoaxes, Critical Thinking, Enforma
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Time Warner Cable: Trick or Treat?

By David Glück
Posted on: 10/27/2007

Kil girds his loins to do battle with a modern-day monster.

There is an evil presence in my home. I did not invite it in. It got here by working its way west, like a plague of locusts eating up everything in its path, becoming fat and satiated and now unable to move or be moved. It came with a malevolence that was initially undetectable within the shiny colored pages that announced its arrival.

Outwardly, nothing had changed in my home. Everything looked the same and still does. But it arrived and caught us unaware of the pit of despair that its presence would oh-so-very-slowly drag us into. Oh horror of horrors, we have come to know what it means to live in a household that was, along with so many other households, absorbed by and forced to endure the services of Time Warner Cable.

The evil took some time to assert itself; a slight flicker on the television or a dropped cable connection. Not a big deal. We had seen that sort of thing before. Most of the time it was a minor annoyance that went away on its own. Sometimes I had to reboot my modem, but again, the problems were temporary and easy to fix. Worst case was when the problem didn’t go away, we called the cable company and someone came out to fix it. Sometimes they had to come twice. And that would bother me. But I now look back on those days with a fondness that I would have never thought possible for a cable company, if it were not for the look-alike that has replaced it like an escaped homicidal twin who has disappeared his more-amiable sibling.

The flickering got worse. And then, still worse. My Internet connection became more and more unreliable. One rainy night not too long ago the TV picture and sound began to flicker on and off so quickly that it became unwatchable and possibly deadly to someone prone to having strobe-induced seizures. And my modem became nothing more than a paperweight, and not a very good one at that. It was then that Michelle asked me to call the cable company. It was time to do that. It was a reasonable request. But I dreaded making that call.

When Time Warner Cable first arrived in our little village I had some billing problems that needed to be resolved. So I already had some experience with the Beast, and it was not all too pleasant. I called, was put on hold, and forced to listen to music, for over an hour, that made my skin crawl. And then my call was dropped. I had to call back. Again, music, skin crawling and call dropped. I pictured Norman Bates’ mother in her attic chair, her eye sockets black and yet staring at a blank television screen covered with the cobwebs of generations of spiders, her bony fingers wrapped around a telephone receiver that she held fast and for all time to her wrinkled dead ear well after it didn’t matter anymore, on hold with Time Warner Cable.

After the second try I waited until the wee hours of the morning in the hope that most people, who wanted to talk to the one person working in billing would be sleeping. After about a half hour, I got through. Apparently I wasn’t the only person who had outwitted Time Warner’s filtering strategy. My problem was a simple one, probably to the great relief of the over-worked shell of the once-happy person at the other end of the line, and was resolved quickly. But that call put me on alert. I knew I didn’t ever want to call them again. I knew that they liked it that way. And I knew that one day, hopefully not soon, I would have to.

And so it began.

Time Warner had come under a lot of criticism for their hold times. It had even made the nightly news. A whole city sued them. And so, they restocked. My guess is they did not rehire the old customer service people from the company they had consumed, because that would have required too much deprogramming as part of the training to get them to understand the nature of the Beast and its way of doing things. Time Warner made a pledge. No hold time would be over 30 seconds long. And even though they have yet to honor that pledge, the hold time is satisfactory now. What we didn’t know, however, was that Time Warner had other plans for us. Unbeknownst to me, I had only scratched the surface of the Beast’s capability to rain suffering down upon all of those who dared to approach it.

I called. I reached a technical support customer service representative in what has become an acceptable amount of time, after pressing the requisite numbers on my telephone keypad. I successfully negotiated the maze that we have come to expect when calling for any customer service support in the digital age.

“Hello. Did you know you can save money by signing up for a premium package that now includes telephone as well as all the other great features we have provided to you in past?” I ignored the greeting. I explained the problem I was having with my service. “Hmmm… Did you try rebooting your cable box and modem?” he asked cheerfully. I told him I had. “I will set up a time for one of our technicians to come to your home and correct the problem.”

“So far, so good,” I thought. “How would Monday afternoon from one to five be?” Well, I might have to miss some work if I have to be home. “Oh, we can have them call you a half hour before they arrive.” I gave him my cell phone number. “Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

“No, I think that’s about it.”

“Well thanks for calling Time Warner Cable. Have a great day!”

“Thanks, and you too.”

Wow. Okay now. That wasn’t so painful. I told Michelle that we were scheduled for a service call and that the connection should be fixed by the time she got home on Monday. She smiled.

I got home at three on Monday. A Time Warner truck was parked outside. I had received no call from them. Michelle happened to be home early and was there to let the tech in. I asked him why he didn’t call me. “It’s not on the work order” he said rather matter of factually. And I’m sure that it wasn’t. I didn’t know it yet but that kind of relevant information from customer support to the field techs was left out as a matter of routine. But at the time I thought it was just a mistake and not something systemic and part of a bigger plan to drive us mad. As I said, the evil took some time to assert itself.

“All of your cable readings are too high. That’s the problem.”

Too high?

“Yup.” He exuded confidence. He put filters on our cables, told me there would be no more problems, had me sign a form and left. I was happy. That feeling would not last for long.

That night the television and my modem were worse than before the service call. Trying to look on the bright side, I told Michelle that at least, by process of elimination, we could rule one thing out as the main problem. I called again.

“Hello. Did you know you can save money by signing up for a premium package that now includes telephone as well as all the other great features that we have provided to you in past?”

“Hi. Someone was out today to fix our cable and I’m sorry to report that it has only gotten worse. So what do we do now?”

“I need your phone number in order to bring up your account. Hmmm, you had a service call today.”


“And your cable is still not working as it should be, is that correct?”

“Yes. Plus the guy was supposed to call me before he arrived, but didn’t. That instruction was supposed to be on the work order.”

“I don’t see that here.”

Once again, I chalked that up to a mistake. It was way too soon to notice the pattern that was developing. I was about to do battle with the Beast, but I did not know it yet.

“Okay, we can send someone out next week.”

“It’s only Monday. So you’re saying I have to wait at least a week for anything to be done?”

“I can put you down for an earlier opening if one comes up, but I can’t do better then that.”

“How come the last tech was able to come the next day?”

“You just got lucky, I guess.”

“Sigh… Okay, set it up.”

We had at least one more week of putting up with a flickering TV and an unreliable modem. The darkness was settling in around us now. The Beast was busy doing what the Beast does best. We were, in effect, put on hold…

The following Saturday morning I got a call from Time Warner Cable. Several calls actually, within a few minutes of each other.

“You’re scheduled for a service call on Tuesday, but we think we can get you in on Monday.”


“Looks like we can get you in tomorrow.”


“We can have someone there this afternoon. Will you be home?”

“Absolutely, thanks!” Oh hey, things were looking up!

The guy was not wearing a Time Warner shirt. I asked about that and he told me that the company he works for contracts out to Time Warner. He did have the meter and he went right to work.

“The readings are all over the place,” he said furrowing his brow. “What are these filters doing on the cables?” I told him what the last tech told me. He laughed and took them off. “You don’t need these. Let me guess, the Time Warner tech only checked one part of the band?”

“I dunno. I guess…”

“Do you know where the main panel is on the building?”

I took him to it. He played with the cables for a while, checking this and that and doing a much more thorough job than the last tech did. I asked about that.

“They get lousy training. They don’t know what they are doing. We have been doing this for thirty years and they just take a few training classes and get sent out on service calls. Man, these readings are all over the place. No wonder you’re having problems.” He wrote a bunch of stuff down and entered data in the meter box that he carried. I was gaining confidence in this tech. I felt that the problem would soon be solved. He pointed to a telephone pole out back, where the cable comes down to the building and said, “There is your problem. Someone needs to go up there and fix the main feed to the building.”


“No, I don’t do that. But I have entered the data, which is right now showing up on my supervisor’s screen. Based on these numbers, someone should be out on Monday to fix it.”



“Since it’s outside work, do I have to be here?”


So that was it. On Monday we would have our cable back and working properly. I signed some forms and walked him to the door. “So they will fix it tomorrow?” I asked again.

“Don’t worry. With the readings I got, they have to fix it.”

It was a bit drizzly on Monday. But I had almost every confidence in what I had been told. On Monday evening nothing worked. The television and the cable were useless. I rationalized that they couldn’t do pole work because of the drizzle and would probably do the work on Tuesday. Wrong again. Michelle called.

“They’ll be out tomorrow morning,” she said triumphantly. She is home on Wednesday’s, so if they knocked, someone would be home.

No one showed. We thought perhaps she had missed them because the work is all outside. That evening the cable went bad, like it does every evening. I called.

“Hello. Did you know you can save money by signing up for a premium package that now includes telephone as well as all the other great features that we have provided to you in past?”

(Cut to the chase.)

“The work was supposed to be done on Monday.”

“We have no record of that.”

“Excuse me?”

“I see that a tech came to your house and fixed the problem over a week ago. That’s all it says here.”

“A guy came out on Saturday and promised pole work on Monday. On Tuesday evening my girlfriend called to complain that nothing was done and she was told someone would be out today. And you have no record of that?”

“No sir. But I can set that up if you like.”

“No, I would prefer it if my TV and cable modem never worked again… Sorry about the sarcasm, but you know, I’m getting angry now.”

“I understand, so would you like me to set that up?”

“Do you think you can, because in all honesty, I am beginning to wonder. Someone in your office set that up yesterday, and no one came.”

“I have no record of that.”

“So the person she talked to last night lied?”

“I can’t say sir because I didn’t hear what was said.”

“And the guy who came out Saturday, same thing? Let me ask you something. Why would someone come out to our home from Time Warner if there was no order to do that?”

“The order for that visit is not on my screen. There is only one order on my screen. I don’t know what happened and I apologize for any inconvenience that may have caused you.”

“Let me give you two scenario’s that make the most sense to me, based on what you’re telling me. First, a cable repair company that contracts to you psychically picked up on the problem and came by, and for some reason, Time Warner didn’t want to pay for the repair, or, you guys don’t know what you’re doing and no one there writes anything down so that you will. No data is entered, no cross-referencing is done, and every time I call you I will have to start all over again. Does that pretty much cover it?”

“Hold on, I am going to talk to a supervisor.”


A few minutes later:

“We are going to contact emergency repair. They will call you either tonight or tomorrow morning, come out and fix the problem. How is that?”

“Great! Here is my cell phone number in case they need to contact me.”

“Is there anything else I can help you with?”

“No, if anyone shows up, you will have done your job…”

So we waited. We waited that night until midnight. No one called. No one called the next day either.

On Wednesday after work, as I was walking up to my door, I ran into my neighbor Nina. I asked her if she was having problems with her cable. “Problems? Every night my TV goes out and my modem doesn’t work. I called them and they sent a guy out who said nothing was wrong. I told him it only happens at night. But since everything was working when he was there, he told me to call customer service again if I am still having problems. I have been calling every night because they told me I would have to do that to get a credit. And of course, to get someone to fix it.”

So they are getting multiple calls from the same building and are unable to glean from that, something isn’t right. My heart darkened. A chill ran through me. Up until that moment I thought I was only dealing with serious incompetence. Now, I was sure that there was an evil force at work here and I was caught in a nefarious web of deceit from which I might never break free.

So I called again.

“Hello. Did you know you can save money by signing up for a premium package that now includes telephone as well as all the other great features that we have provided to you in past?”

“Do you have any idea of how stupid that greeting sounds to me after trying for weeks to get you guys to fix my cable?”

“I’m sorry.”

“No you’re not. If you were you would quit your job and work for an honest company.”

“Can I help you?”

“I doubt it, but let’s find out. And look, I’m sorry if you must be on the receiving end of my anger, but that is where I am at right now, and my guess is I am not the first angry customer you have had to deal with. So deal with it ’cause it’s not going to get better until my cable is fixed.”

“I understand.”

“Of course you do. You and the other people working there probably laugh about the last lie you told over the water cooler, just to compare notes and see who told a customer the biggest whopper.”

“We don’t have a water cooler.”

“Let me guess: you have no record of the promise that was made to me by Time Warner customer service that an emergency crew would be out to fix my cable this week.”

“No. There is nothing here about that.”

“Thought so. Okay, here’s the deal: I want my cable fixed. My neighbor also wants her cable fixed. It’s outside work. That is confirmed. So don’t even try to send someone over with a meter to check the cable inside my home. Just fix it. And by the way, the Dish is looking pretty good to me now.”

“Looks like we can send someone out on Thursday.”

“Tomorrow? Someone who can do outside work? Pole work? Someone who doesn’t need to get in here? Doesn’t need papers signed? Is my cell number on my account now?”

“Lets see, ummm… is it 392…“

“No. Is there another number listed to reach me at?”


“That figures. Now listen carefully. I want you to change my contact number, the one you always ask for when I call here, to my cell phone number. Can you do that?”


“If the guy who may or may not come tomorrow needs to call me, I want my cell number on the work order. Will you take care of that?”


“And this will be for pole work. No need to go inside. Inside has already been checked. Right?”

“Right, you don’t need to be home. I promise. Is there anything else I can help you with?”

“No offense, but I don’t want to stretch you too far. Lets get my cable working before we move on to credits and things…”

Thursday afternoon, at work, I got a call from Michelle. She had checked our home messages from her work. She told me that Time Warner had left three messages on our voicemail.

“You’re kidding right?” She suggested that I check them out. The first one was a recorded message confirming the day’s appointment. The second one was from a tech who left his cell phone number in case I got home in time. The third was from the same tech; he couldn’t do the work because no one was at home.

No one from Time Warner had called my cell phone…

I called the number the tech left and he answered. He told me that the work order said someone had to be home. I asked if there was another number he could have called on the work order. “No.” I asked if it was too late for him to come. He told me he would be over in an hour. Cool.

After two hours I called his number again to see what happened to him. He didn’t answer. No one came. Not that night and not the next day.

Michelle called.

She gave the poor bastard who was in line for her call a rundown of the situation, including a detailed history of the Beast’s broken promises and outright lies. And Michelle made this offer to him. She would stay on the phone with him until the cable was fixed. He started to give her a day they could come out, but Michelle was having none of that. Nope. Fix it now. The poor bastard didn’t know what to do. She was polite, but would not relinquish the line until she could see someone on the pole. She was put on hold. When the poor bastard came back, he said that someone would be on the pole within an hour. “Good” said Michelle. “Let’s both find out if that happens.” She told him that she wasn’t working on Saturday, so she was more than willing to stay up for as long as it took, talking to him, while they waited for our cable to be fixed. Her night was free, and it would be no problem to wash the dishes, take a bath, and generally hang out while waiting on the phone with the poor bastard until a tech showed up. He said he couldn’t do that. Michelle asked if he hangs up on customers seeking his help. She made the point that he was customer service and by golly she would not let him go until this customer was served.

She gave him one way out. She offered to let him put a supervisor on the line. The poor bastard said that there were no supervisors in his office. And you know why he said that? Because, just like all of the other customer service people at Time Warner Cable, he had lied to her. No one was coming that night. He made that up to get rid of her. Just like they made that up to get rid of me earlier in the week. It is a standard line I guess. Lying is also the way of the Beast. And these people were the public face, or at least the voice of the Beast, service-wise. Michelle very skillfully kept him on the line for about an hour. Maybe more. She kept telling the poor bastard that she knew that this wasn’t his fault. But on the other hand, he represented Time Warner Cable, which left her no choice, but to refuse to hang up before our cable was fixed. He kept putting her on hold. Probably to get advice from anyone there who was not a supervisor. Or maybe I have it wrong. Maybe he was told by a supervisor to say that there was no supervisor there. After all, we are talking about liars. And the supervisor must have held a position similar to his at one time.

Anyhow, he finally let out a groan and hung up on Michelle. Perhaps he was called back to hell for screwing up, or even congratulated. Really, I now knew that when dealing with a company like Time Warner, what looks like incompetence could be a well-executed falsehood, which feels the same if you happen to have the bad luck to be on the receiving end.

I called back.

“Hello. Did you know you can save money by signing up for a premium package that now includes telephone…”

“Cut the crap.”

“Excuse me?”

“Someone in your office just hung up on my girlfriend… Here is my telephone number, my name and my address. Boot up my account and tell me what you see.”

“I see that you missed your appointment with our service technician on Thursday.”

“Do you see my cell phone number there?”

“Is that the 490 number?”

“Yes, the number your tech was supposed to use if there was a problem or to confirm his arrival. The one that you guys were supposed to give him. Also, the work order was supposed to be for outside work. Was it?”

“Says ‘to check line.’”

“Let me guess. That needs to be done inside, right?”


“Okay now, I’m going to go take a few deep breaths. I know you are trying to kill me and, in fact, you’re hoping my head will explode, right now. But I’m not going to let that happen. In fact, here, talk to my girlfriend, because you won’t like me if I get angry…”

Michelle talked to him for a bit, filled him in and handed the phone back to me.

“Do you have a supervisor there?”


“Interesting. Okay then, I would like to speak to a supervisor.”

“Hold on…”

I was on hold for a good ten minutes or so. I was wondering if he had simply hung up but Michelle assured me that I would have heard a click.

“Hello, my name is Suzanne and I am the shift supervisor. What can I do for you Mr. Glück?”

“Someone in your office hung up on my girlfriend. You should know that as a supervisor.”

“I will look into that. So how can I help you?”

“You can get my cable working. That would be good.”

“I have already put in a call to maintenance and you should be getting a call from them in 24 to 48 hours.”

“That is not good enough. I want someone over here now.”

“That would be impossible. That office is already closed and will not open again until tomorrow morning.”

“So, if that is the case, the guy who told my girlfriend tonight that someone would be right out was lying. And the customer support person who told me that was lying. Is that correct?”

“You were told that?”

“Yes, so they lied, right?”

“If they told you that, yes.”

“Okay, we have established that more than one person in your office has lied to us. We may be getting somewhere. But the fact is, the list of lies has gotten pretty long. After about a month of this, they catch up, you know? Are you all trained to lie?”


“And as their supervisor, it’s pretty much up to you to watch over that sort of thing, right?”

“Correct. I will look into it.”

“You know, come to think of it, it seems like everyone there has lied to me in one way or another. So, you don’t mind if I take what you say with a grain of salt do you?”

“I am not lying to you.”

“Well, you know, put yourself in my place…”

“I am not lying to you.”

“Okay, anyhow, look… Lets see if we can find a way to make the impossible happen.”

“I doubt that we can do that.”

“Me too, but let me ask you, if the president of the United States was here in town and needed emergency repair work because his cable was down. Pole work. Could you do that now? Do you have people who could do that?”

“I suppose but…”

“Okay then, I happen to know the president is not in town, so please send those people over to fix my cable.”

“You’re not a VIP.”

“So VIP status speeds up a repair from three weeks and counting to a couple of hours? Interesting. Okay, let’s try this: you have an emergency crew that repairs outages no matter when the occur right?”


“Any outages in Southern California tonight?”


“Okay, send those guys.”

“I can’t.”

“So, what do they do when there are no outages? Are they sitting around playing cards somewhere?”

“I don’t know.”

“I thought you could be more helpful.”

“I thought you wanted the truth.”

“As defined by Time Warner or Webster’s?”

“Someone will call you tomorrow.”

“I thought you said from 24 to 48 hours?”

“I have put in a request for maintenance to get back to you as soon as possible. That is all I can do.”

Michelle yelled from across the room “I want to watch Saturday Night Live!”

“She will get to see it. I promise.”

“What’s your name?”


“Is there an ID number or anything that goes with that?”


“Okay Suzanne UK2, I have your word.”


“I suppose that’s it then. We will now find out if there is one honest person in your office.”

“Is there anything else that I can help you with?”

“You don’t want to know.”

Dear readers, would it surprise you to learn that Michelle did not get to watch Saturday Night Live? That no one called from Time Warner Cable on Saturday? And of course, no one from Time Warner Cable came to fix anything? Furthermore, would it surprise you to learn that no one called us within the 24 to 48 hour time period that Suzanne UK2 originally promised? I thought not…

They say that one sign of insanity is to keep doing the same thing, expecting a different result. And in all honesty, I really did want to do something different. I wanted to enter the lair of the Beast with bombs strapped to my chest and one demand: fix my cable or I will take us all out! But I knew by now, because I had asked, that the lair was located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I don’t know, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Time Warner customer service for Colorado were located in Southern California. Or, that Time Warner Cable chooses to not serve Colorado at all, for their own safety…

I phoned again.

“Hello. Did you know…”

“Yes, I know. May I talk to a supervisor please?”

“I need to boot up your account first.”

Name, phone number, address…

“Now then, how can I help you?”

“I would like to speak with a supervisor.”

“Okay, hold on.”


“Hello, this is Victor, how can I help you?”

“Are you a supervisor?”


“I would like my cable fixed. I know this will sound crazy to you but I will probably not believe a word that you say, and yet you are my only hope. Tonight anyhow. Let me give you a rundown on where we are now.”


History, history, history. “…Of course, much of that is not on your screen, because no one over there enters anything I tell them, and Time Warner Cable customer service will say anything to get me off the phone. By the way, when I started making these calls to you guys, I didn’t sound this crazy…”

“What would you like me to do to sort this mess out?”

“Well, it seems to me that you should be the one coming up with ideas, but since you’re asking me, I’d say send someone out to fix my cable.”

“Okay. Someone will be there on Monday. The order has already been sent.”

“I have to wait until Monday?”

“The department that works on problems like yours is closed until Monday morning.”

“Not according to Suzanne UK2.”

“Yes, well, that is how it is. Best that we can do is Monday.”

I will not bore you with the rest of my conversation with Victor UXB. He held firm and said nothing to get my hopes up just to get me off the phone. He made no (what turned out to be) extraordinary promises to me. He said maintenance only works from Monday though Friday, and that was that. Not that that is how it should be, but that is how it is. Victor UXB seemed to have at least a dim understanding of what his job is, or should be, even if he does work for the Beast.

I would have to wait until Monday to find out if Victor UXB was really as he seemed to be. And of course, once again, cable-wise, I was on hold.

On Monday morning I got a call from a tech on the home phone. “Uh oh,” I thought. I gave my cell phone number to every customer service person I talked to. Next the guy will be telling me that he needs to get in to check my cables. To my surprise, he called to tell me that he was working on the lines from Fourth Street up, and would get to the lines on my block sometime in the afternoon. I asked him if I had to be home. He told me it wasn’t necessary because it was all outside work. He said he was checking and repairing all the equipment on the wires themselves. “Pole work?”


He called me later, on my cell phone, because I gave him the number, and told me that he had to replace the whole whatever-it-is, because it was a total goner and beyond repair. He told me that I should have no more problems with my cable now. I thanked him but remained skeptical.

On Monday evening there was no flicker on my TV. My cable was working and I didn’t know how to feel. I was still quite unsettled and more deeply doubtful of a conclusion then I ever remember being before. I knew that at any moment the flickering would start again, just like at the very end of a particularly bloody horror movie when we find out the evil has not completely left and the sequel will be out soon. The Beast is just resting. Waiting. Biding its time while the dread in me fades away with every click on my controller. Waiting.

And I know it…

The end?

Thanks to Michelle for editing this essay on the fly. And a special thanks to our editor, Dave W., for his fine editing after having this thing thrown at him right after he told me how busy he is.

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