Problems Signing up for Time Warner Road Runner Service

One Part of Time Warner Doesn't Know What the Other is Doing

July 2008

It seems to me that Time warner is so compartmentalized that one part of the company has absolutely no idea what another part of the company is doing. This results in extemely bad customer service, as customers may need to communicate with different parts of the company for something as simple as having service installed, and what is told to them by one part of the company does not always agree with what other parts of the company say.

To make matters worse, many of the people one might speak with are not actually employees of Time Warner. If you ask them who they work for they say Time Waner, but then if you ask them who issues their paychecks they will admit that they work for a contractor. In fact, it seems that if you order service through certain special offers, you are interacting with the "Time Warner National Call Center" which is not actually Time Warner, but subcontracted to another organization.

Here is the problem: We bought a house in Erie, PA, and called Time Warner to have Road Runner high speed internet installed. After signing up we were intstructed to contact "Time Warner" at a designated phone number to schedule an installation apointement. This number was for the Time Warner National Call Center (this is what I got them to tell me on the phone, though they just identify themself as Time Warner and if you first ask them if they are Time Warner they say yes, presumably because that is what Time Warner wants them to say - it appears that this function has been subcontracted to them by Time Warner).

When we speak to the call center they tell us that they can not schedule an appointement because service is already active at that address. The previous owners had cable TV, but not internet, but according to the previous owners they had already requested service disconnection, and I had seen a Time Warner Truck just up the street on moving day, so I am presuming service had already been disconnected. I am also guessing that this fact had simply not yet been entered into the database used by their "National Call Center", because the disconnection was likely handled by their local office.

Of course the call center employees belive that what is in their database is absolute truth, so the conversation goes approximately like this:

  • Me: The previous owners had cable, but it has already been disconnected. Can you confirm whether the service is at least scheduled to be disconnected?
  • CallCenter: We can not tell you about the previous service, because of privacy concerns.
  • Me: Then I am telling you as the owner of the property to disconnect the other service, and schedule an apointment so I can get service?
  • CallCenter: We can not do that, the party who has service must be the one to call.
  • Me: They claim that they have already had their service disconnected, can you confirm that that service is in the name of (I gave them the name of the previous onwner).
  • CallCenter: We can not disclose that information for privacy reasons (It really is good to see that they are so quick to emphasise their commitement to privacy, given that they seem to repeatedly give my phone numer to third parties who call me wanting me to sign up for Time Warners cable service - which I cancelled about 6 months ago in disgust. All this despite my repeated requests that they and their third parties stop calling me to sell me a service that I clearly do not want from them.)
  • Me: Can you tell me when I can call in and schedule an appointment for service?
  • CallCenter: We can not tell you that because of customer privacy?
  • Me: If I were to call back on Saturday, would you be able to schedule an apointment for me?
  • CallCenter: Yes.
  • Finally on Saturday, they were able to schedule a connection apointment for the following Friday.

Any reasonable company that likes to think of themselves as a utility has a way of dealing with moves. The power company did not have to disconnect power and make me wait a week for service when we moved in. They simply noted that the meter needed to be read on moving day. Same thing for the gas company and water. But Time Warner doesn't seem capable of getting this straight, instead they need to send someone out to disconnect the old service, and then they seem to need to wait a couple days for their database to reflect this change, before they are even capable of scheduling an apointment for service for the new owner - and since they have such a backlog that they can't schedule apointments for almost a week after one is requested, we were left without being able to get service for 9 days.

In addition to the problem with scheduling service, I made a few other observations about the signup/scheduling process that shows problems caused by lack of intergation of the different service functions and how this presents a muddled view of Time Warner to their customers. When I first called to schedule an apointement, the person who answered the phone, took my address, and then gave me a list of a couple of cities and asked which one I was closer to. The address I had given her was in Erie PA, and presumably they need to know which city I was closer to (from among one in Ohio, and others in PA) to determine which Time Warner office serves the address.

This is ridiculous: They should be able to type in my address and know which office needs to schedule the apointment. I told them it was silly, but if they wanted me to I would go to mapquest, calculate the distance and tell them which is closest (which isn't really what they wanted to know anyway, but how am I as a customer, supposed to know which one serves Erie PA, that should be all internal to Time Warner). It was upon being asked this question that I started to ask them questions, such as am I really talking to Time Warner, and who signs their paychecks, and when I found out that Time Warner contracts them to manage their National Call Center.

Previous Time Warner Complaint
Next Time Warner Complaint
Click for more complaints about Time-Warner Cable Customer Service.
If you have more horror stories about Time-Warner cable, or feedback on this page, please send mail to