The (Not So Smooth) Time Warner Transition

Jun 4, 2012

What happens when a regional cable service changes hands? Not so much, according to commentator Constance Alexander.

Although it was a gorgeous, sunny day on May 22, only about six per cent of eligible voters found their way to the polls. Of course, this was not a “big” election, but even when there is one of those, we congratulate the turnout if sixty per cent of registered voters actually show up.

In my polling place, there were more volunteers on duty than there were voters. We grumbled at the dismal state of democracy, when people neglect to vote, or even refuse to register, while complaining about everything the government does or doesn’t do to their liking.

Now we must cue the chorus of private enterprise fans, who believe that everything that can be out-sourced should be, because business knows how to get things done efficiently and cost-effectively. Right?

Well, maybe not-so-much.

A case in point occurred recently with the rocky conversion of cable, phone and internet service from New Wave Communications to Time-Warner. Sunday, May 20, was the day for the big switch, and the letters customers received announced “an easy Road Runner ® registration process” that would work something like a magic wand. Users could transfer their old New Wave mailbox to the new mailbox, with the TrueSwitch™ process and Voila! Everything would fall into place.

Right? Well, maybe not-so-much.

On May 20, when eager users logged on, the direction that said “click here” sucked the unsuspecting user into a vortex of Frequently Asked Questions that didn’t include the most important query: Why, with almost a year’s time available to plan the conversion and create clear, concise, and workable instructions, was Time-Warner unable to deliver?

There is no answer because not only were the directions bogus, our phones were out, and others lost cable TV access. Of course, one might use a cell phone to find out what the problem was, right?

Well, maybe not-so-much.

The 800 number featured a recording that cheerily announced that the wait to get a call answered was estimated to be thirty to- forty-five minutes. Things went on this way for days, and lines of disgruntled customers formed at the local office.

The good news is that on May 23, phone and cable service were restored and email transfer was achieved, though a far cry from directions that promised the process “should take only five minutes.” The bad news?  On May 30 and 31st phone and cable service failed again.

Google Time Warner outages and you will see such frequent service problems are not unique to our region; they’re happening all over the country. Unfortunately, we don’t get a vote on who provides our cable service, and residential customers in rural areas like ours don’t have clout with a huge operation like Time Warner.  The best I could do was to email the service center – once that service was restored -- and ask for a reduction in this month’s bill to compensate for the loss of service.

And what can be expected in return? The same thing that happens when people do not vote in elections: If anything, not-so-much. (530 words)

Speaking for myself, this is Constance Alexander at WKMS-FM in Murray, Ky. 

Constance Alexander is an award-winning writer in Murray, Kentucky.

*Commentaries political in nature are solely the opinions of the commentator and do not necessarily reflect the views of WKMS or its staff.