Cutting the Cord—or—Charter is like Syphilis, Except There's a Cure


First, the background story:
Years ago, we cut our cable in favor of using OTA channels coupled with a TiVo and Netflix/Hulu to receive all of our content. And by "receive all of our content" I mean "binge unhealthy amounts of Gilmore Girls and JAG." In our area, we had two options: Charter (Spectrum) and Frontier. Frontier’s top speed was Charter’s bottom and was not really an option for gaming, or really anything. So, we had ONE option—the localized monopoly. And their "service" was abysmal. I paid for 60 MBs, but every speed test averaged out to about 30-40 (I have the logs and I’ve only gotten 60 once, so I know it’s possible). And their service would randomly slow to a crawl or stop working all-together and no amount of trouble-shooting on their end fixed the problem. Even buying a new router resulted in half the speed I was paying for. But after years of verbal abuse perpetrated by Charter's phone-bot, I just accepted it.

About June, a flyer was placed in my door stating that TDS Fiber was moving into our neighborhood (the whole city actually) and their internet package was 100 MBs (up and down) for $20 less a month than what Charter was offering.

I thought that competition in our area could only benefit me—even if I stayed with Charter—surely they'd want some retention in our area. I was only about 40/60 on actually switching because of an error I made years ago. Apparently, I wasn’t smart enough 15+ years ago to think, “Hey, what happens if I no longer want Charter as my internet provider?” And promptly used @charter.net as the email I would enter to sign up for LITERALLY EVERYTHING IN MY LIFE. Netflix, Hulu, banking, utilities, Hello Kitty fan club newsletters, The Voice audition website, clown school, mime school, magician school, SPAM, Nicholas Cage cosplayers network, juggling school, an Anti-Randy Newman Twitter account... EVERYTHING. But not LinkedIn. I would never use my main address for that trash. And in order to drop Charter, I'd have to update every. Single. Online. Account.

So, while not completely serious about switching—due to the enormous migraine I'd be inflicting upon myself—what would be the harm in calling up and seeing if I could get a discount?

At my earliest convenience, I dialed them up and said, “Yo, TDS is moving in and is cheaper for almost triple the speed. What can you do to compete and keep me as a customer.” The girl confidently replied—essentially—“Nothing. Would you like to schedule a disconnect?” WHAT?!? That is some nice service there, Charter. Yes. I will be scheduling a disconnect as long as I can figure out this email switching catastrophe.

I was now at 100%. Thanks for making the decision for me.

Fast Forward to Last Week Tuesday:
TDS Fiber was finally installed (that’s another nightmare story involving hired contractors that came out to bury the line and purposely cut through Charter’s line, so Charter had to come out and rebury their line and I know it was on purpose because the lines were marked and after Charter reburied our line, he got in his truck, pulled forward 7-feet and got out to rebury the neighbor’s line too). But I digress…

After the installation, ... Actually, it was quite funny to have Charter come out for 2 full hours, rerunning their line through our yard and all through our house for only 19 days of service. I'm getting off track again...

Anyhoo... with TDS up-and-running, I ran a speed test on 3 devices: 90s and even one over 100. I’d never get what I paid for with Charter, so that was already a plus. I waited a week to cancel Charter—dreading dealing with their garbage-tier customer service—and finally called them up yesterday. You’d be amazed at how fast phone-bot connected me with a real person after stating I was calling to disconnect. I never even went to hold. It was instantaneous. If only they had lightning fast speed like that responding when our internet dies and kicks me out of binging McLeod's Daughters.

Her first question, why? And I said, “Actually, one of your customer service reps convinced me to cancel. A competitor was moving into our neighborhood, offering more than twice your speed for $20 less a month and I asked what you can do to stay competitive. She said we were ‘getting your lowest rate, would you like to schedule a disconnect?’ I said, not right now, but I will be calling back. And here we are—this is that call.”

She was shocked. Probably not due to how I was treated, but that someone actually called their bluff. And she reaffirmed my suspicion by admitting that maybe she was just trying to get me to say I was canceling then and there and they’d have transferred me over to someone in this department—who then would try to convince me to stay. She offered to increase my "service" from 60 to 100 for only a $1 extra a month. I said—essentially—no thanks. Your service is wretched and I never even get 60 MBs in all the speed tests I run. Also, it cuts out randomly. And third, it’s still $20 MORE EXPENSIVE THAN YOUR COMPETITOR. A MONTH. I’ve been a customer for 2+ decades and for your rep to just casually toss me aside like a Randy Newman CD was unbelievably disrespectful. I may not have said all of those words, but you get the idea.

She tried again valiantly to get me to bite on the 100 MB offer and I replied with, “Oh, one other thing. With Net Neutrality going away next week, I don’t trust your company one bit to not tack on pricey packages to your already expensive services. I want nothing to do with Charter once those rules are gone.” Netflix already raises their prices every 3 days, I don't need to pay another company more money just to pay Netflix more money.

So, today, I gently wrapped up the modem with its cord and rubber banded the TDS brochure I got in my door to it and will be throwing the whole thing through their window. Or placing it on their desk. Probably the latter, actually, but I can fantasize. Actually, the thing is so cheap it would probably shatter on the glass anyhow.

I felt so good after getting off the phone with them. Unlike when I canceled my cable. That was the opposite of satisfying. They didn’t try to retain me at all. Just a “cya” knowing they were more than happy to continue taking my money for hair-pullingly frustrating internet quality for years. And years. And years.

And today, all the dark clouds parted and animated birds flew into my office. They won't stop singing. It's quite distracting. Does anyone know how to get cartoon birds to leave? I can't hear my Hello Kitty podcast. Also, there's cartoon poop all over my desk. Shoo. SHOO!

Comments

  1. You can still access your charter email through outlook.com or outlook phone app. I've been accessing mine for almost 15 years.

    ReplyDelete
  2. 100 MBs? OH, MY!
    Great. Now there's drool on my keyboard. Do you know what happens when drool mixes with cookie crumbs and jelly? Thanks a lot. :/

    ReplyDelete

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