All The Worst - A Review
Time-Warner Cable, Digital-Phone, and Internet

Time-Warner Cable advertises their three service combination as All the Best, but this name is very misleading. I find this name to be misleading,and in my opinion they should be calling it All the Worst: worst relaibility, worst customer service, and more. As I am writing this, my digital phone service from Time-Warner cable has been out for nine days, and still counting. The linked pages have more information on my problem, as well as complaints that I have received from others about their problems dealing with Time Warner.

Misleading Billing Practices at Time-Warner Cable

Sometimes is seems that everyone loves to hate the cable companies, and with many of these companies, that reputation is well deserved. Not only do they often provide awful customer service, with customer service reps that don't understand the wervices that they provide, but often when one solves one problem, new problems pop up right away. Where I live we get a weak cable signal, less reliable in many cases than getting our local stations over the air (in HD). But if we want the added channels that come with cable, we are forced to deal either with a cable company, or alternatives like DirecTV or Dish Network.

The extra charges

As with any purchase, it is important to read the fine print and learn what additional charges you will incur above the "advertised" price. This is important in most telecommunications products where taxes are extra. For cable and sattelite TV, pay particular attention also to the equipment charges. These are usually not included in the advertised price and there will be fine print mentioning that they are extra. In many cases, you can't get the services without such equipment and without paying these extra charges.

At least with our local Time Warner's current rate structure (August 2007), it actually is possible to hook up a television with digital cable without an equipment charge if your television set is capable of taking a "Cable Card". In our local area, the rental fee for the cable card is zero (they will charge you if you lose the card and don't return it, but rental is free). But time-warner will try to talk you out of using the cable card because it does not at present support two-way communication, which means no impulse purchase of pay-per-view or similar programming - and they want you to make those impulse purchases. If you go with a separate cable box, then you will pay an additional equipment rental fee of $4.01 for standard box, and $4.77 if you want high-def. This really isn't all that bad, and they do disclose such equipment fees even if they do try to mislead us by leaving those fees out of the rates in big number prominently displayed in their advertisements (i.e. the numbers they want you to use when comparing with their competitors).

2008 Update: Time warner started to charge monthly for the cable card. Other rental fees have changed also, some went down, and some went up.

As with similar services, if you want to connect a second television with a cable box, you will be charged $6.95 for a "digital programming fee", but their programming fee is listed in their rate card as including a digital converter and remote, which seems like a reasonable fee (actually, it is quite high, but we have been so numbed to being charged such fees that it seems reasonable compared to what we will really end up charged). Here is the catch, though. The fee includes a standard digital converter, and even though the difference in the monthly fee between the standard digital converter and the HD converter is only $0.76, if you opt for the HD converter they actually charge you the full $4.77 extra, beyond the programming fee. It works like this - they charge you the programming fee, and then charge you for the HD converter and remote on top of the programming fee, basically pocketing themselves the fee for the standard converter and remote that they don't give you. They do not tell me this - I only found out about it after several statement (actually, you might be able to notice it on your first statement, but that one is usually such a mess because of all the partial month prorations that it is pretty uninteligible).

Digital Phone cut-over and the better rate that isn't

I had my telephone service with Comcast Digital phone and for months after the fransize was taken over by Time-Warner I kept getting request from them to switch to the Time-Warner digital phone service with the promise of better rates. Each time I checked, I found out that I would end up paying significantly more for the services I needed than with my current plan.

Here's why: I had highly optimized my selection of services, relying on the "distinctive ring" service in the Comcast premium package so that I could have two phone numbers. The Time-Warner services did not offer distinctive ring, so if I were to switch, I would have to pay for two separate lines to have two phone numbers. Now, as part of their agreement with the county to transfer the franchise, I think they were required not to raise prices for a certain period of time. They seem to want to get around that by reducing services - forcing customers to purchase pricier services to get similar functionaility that they once had less expensively from Comcast.

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