Weatherford Democrat

October 19, 2012

COLUMN: A warning for Charter customers

Dennis Tilly

— I read an article in the Democrat recently telling about the city’s difficulty in collecting taxes from Charter Cable. My experience with Charter is as follow:

I decided in March 2012 to change my TV service because of a 50 percent increase in my AT&T U-verse TV service rate. Charter offered the lowest rates so I ordered TV, telephone and Internet services to be installed. I was told installation would cost $49.95.

The installation was scheduled for March 24. A technician came out in mid-afternoon, but told us our house would have to be completely rewired and he needed one or two more technicians to complete the job in a reasonable time period. He said he would be back early Monday, with help, to complete the installation.

We waited all day Monday but nobody showed. I called Charter and they said the job was scheduled for the following Saturday. They had no explanations as to why nobody had called me to let me know about the schedule change. I reminded the person on the phone that their technician told me two or three installers were needed to rewire the house. They said no problem. They would add that to the work order.

A lone technician came out on the following Saturday around 1 p.m. and stated he did not need any help and would complete the job in three or four hours. Well at 9 p.m. (eight hours later) he came in and said he would be back Monday to finish the job.

On Monday after nobody showed all day, I called Charter and they told me they showed the job completed. I told them that the job was not completed, that a cable was hanging about five feet off the ground from the utility pole to my house and another orange cable was laying across my driveway. They rescheduled a third installer for the next Saturday. On Tuesday or Wednesday, an excavation crew showed up and said they were going to dig a trench through my trees, across my driveway and sidewalk. I asked why they wanted to bury a cable at great damage to my trees, driveway, and sidewalk when a cable already ran through the air from the pole to my house. They didn’t know and I told them to leave.

On Saturday the third installer came out and completed the job in a couple of hours. He also had no idea why someone ordered the cable to be buried. The damage to my property and the high cost of burying the cable just made no sense.

Within a week or two, the living room TV picture would freeze up and go blank for anywhere from a few minutes to several hours. I called Charter and they sent out a fourth repairman who replaced the living room receiver and did something to the outside components.

In about two weeks, the master bedroom receiver started freezing up and going blank. I called Charter and they asked me to take the receiver to the local Charter office and exchange it. By the way, between these two service problems I got a bill charging me $200 for the original installation and $40 for a service call to replace the living room receiver. I protested and they removed the $40 charge. I also asked why I was being charged $4 or $5 per month for an Internet wireless modem because I didn’t have one. The second installer had left one on our kitchen counter with a note to be installed later. When the third installer came he said we didn’t need their wireless modem because we already had one of our own. He took the modem with him.

Then, the telephone modem went out and we were without telephone service for three days until a fifth repair man came out and changed the telephone modem.

Then, the TV sound has started going up and down in volume and sputtering. A sixth repair crew came out while I was out and told my wife they fixed the problem by installing some kind of splitter.

The 3rd of June, the living room TV picture and sound froze up every time I changed channels and the sound was still going up and down on all the TVs.

I canceled my cable TV, telephone and Internet services.

Since I canceled my Charter service, I received a bill dated June 21 charging me not only for a month’s service after I had canceled but they had raised my monthly rate 46 percent for that period. I faxed them a copy of my receipt for their equipment issued to me by the local Charter office. They said they would contact their local office to verify my equipment turn in and cancelation and call me right back. Nobody ever called back.

In late July, I received a new bill from Charter totaling $286.57. I again spent about a half hour on hold before Charter again said they would “zero out” my account. On Aug. 9, I received another bill from Charter stating I owed $215.77. Again, I spent about a half hour on the phone and was assured they would correct my account.

I can only hope the city and state will take action against Charter Cable. Because every time I have mentioned my problem with Charter someone else has told me of a similar experience with Charter.

If you are a Charter customer turning in equipment, double check your receipt to be sure every component is listed and keep that receipt in a safe place. If I hadn’t had my receipt it would have been my word against theirs as to when I canceled service.

Dennis Tilly is a Weatherford resident.