Charter Cable – Unsafe at any speed?

Dear Charter,

When I told my co-workers and friends that Charter was going to be my cable company at my new house, they groaned. “Charter is the worst.” I was told, by more than one person. Well, I thought, I will see if things are different – maybe they just had bad experiences.

So I soldiered on – and arranged to have service turned on May 5th, 2010. Pay attention to that date, it’s going to be relevant later.

And, generally, the service was pretty good. A couple of outages, nothing major. Some network choppiness, but again, nothing major. No complaints.

I received my bill in the mail on June 1st. And since I was planning on going on vacation the next week I thought “I know, I’ll take care of this while I am on vacation.” I mean – I haven’t even had the service for a month at this point.

So on Saturday, June 12th, I open my bill.

PAST DUE! It screams – of course, it only screams this on the inside – the only “message” on the outside of the envelope is an ad suggesting I buy home telephone service.

“Past Due??” I think, “How can I be past due? I’ve only had the service for one month and 7 days.” But hey, whatever, I can pay the bill – so I go to my bank and set up auto bill pay for it, make the payment covering the entire balance, and go on about my date. I’m a little annoyed at Charter, but it’s not the end of the world.

Later that same day, I get a call from “Charter Disconnect Service.” WTF? “You have a past due amount, would you like to pay it now over the phone so you can avoid being disconnected.” She says.

WHAT? I grimly point out that I’ve only had the service for 37 days. I also point out that I made an online payment that morning.
“Many people say that they have paid their bills, but they lie.”

Ah, by insinuation, I too am a liar. Yes, my 790 credit rating is due to my ability to not pay my bills on time. Yes, that’s surely the case. Lovely. Again, I insist that I have paid my bill online earlier that morning.

“Well, it may not be processed soon enough, and the disconnect technicians work 7 days a week.” She threatens.

WHAT? Are you kidding me? You’re threatening me with disconnect, and I just received my first bill 12 days ago?

Angrily, I grab my credit card, and shout out the numbers to her so she can “settle my account.” I then demand to speak to her supervisor.

She puts me on hold, and then hangs up on me.

This is the point at which I start ranting on Twitter about how angry I am at Charter.

Then she calls me back, and apologizes for hanging up on me. Ok, the first mote of sunshine in an otherwise dark and stormy day. She gives me the number for her superior, and she tells me that she didn’t run my card, for some reason that I can’t quite understand (she is not the best at English), but she seems to acknowledge that I have an online bill pay set up, and that everything should be fine_).

Grrrr. Still angry, but calmed down a bit.

Monday – I get a call from another person at “Charter Disconnect Service”, telling me I am past due. I growl at this person a bit, and she quickly hangs up.

Tuesday, I get a call from another person at “Charter Disconnect Service”, also telling me I am past due. I growl again, another quick hangup. I am so happy at how I’m being treated like a deadbeat who doesn’t pay his bills. Gives me warm fuzzies inside.

Today is Wednesday. I expect another call today, because, of course, I’ve had Charter for 41 days at this point – clearly I have a history of not paying my cable bill on time.

When I get back from vacation, I am going to carefully investigate my options for different TV and Internet service. This is beyond ridiculous.

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