A couple of days ago I went online to Time Warner Cable and added the SportsPass package to my service level. It was remarkably easy and I thought that Time Warner Cable had finally figured it out. I checked channel 529 to see if my NESN channel was showing up, it wasn’t. Then I noticed an email from Time Warner that said they had received my order and that it should be available shortly.
I checked it the next day, still no access. Today I checked again, still no access.
I log on to the Time Warner Cable website to get their support number and I see they offer online chat. Cool, I fire it up and start typing with Anna. Anna has trouble writing English but I do get that she is going to send a signal to update my cable box. What that really meant was she was rebooting it. While we’re waiting, she tells me I can also call a toll-free phone number for support. A minute or two later it’s up and running again, still no service on my NESN channel.
I ask her to double-check my account to be sure the SportPass is showing up. She tells me that it isn’t. She then asks if there is anything else she can help me with… um, yes. I ask her to add it to my account for me. She can’t do that and tells me to call the toll-free support number.
I dial the Time Warner Cable support number and use a phone tree that asks for my phone number to route the call correctly. After being on hold a few minutes I talk to a pleasant young woman who asks me for my phone number. She then asks for my address which I give her, then she asks for the last four digits of the account holders social security number. I don’t know my wife’s last 4 digits of her social security so I tell her I can’t provide that. She sits silently for about 10 seconds. I ask if I can substitute the account number, which she accepts.
I tell her that I ordered additional service a few days ago online and that it still isn’t working. She informs me that ordering things online doesn’t usually work and that you need to call in to actually add service. Oh, okay.
Before she adds the service I called her about, she asks me if I’m interested in signing up for their digital phone service. I say, “no thank you.” She asks why I’m not interested and I explain that we have 2 cell phones and haven’t used a home phone in over 10 years. She makes a final plea by explaining that it’s only $19.99/month. Ok, but the answer is still no.
A minute later she says that she has worked her magic and it should now be working. I check quickly and it is indeed working.
How many businesses could even think of running that way? Having a monopoly position makes you stop caring about your customers. Cable companies control roughly 60% of the household television access and I have yet to see the cable company that is trying to make their customers the priority.
The story above is why Apple getting into the television market is so damn appealing to so many regular people.