Breaking up with Time Warner Cable is hard to do

A Time Warner Cable truck.

That fight about fees that Time Warner Cable pay CBS -- which has Time Warner blacking out CBS and Showtime for millions of people in New York, Los Angeles, and other places -- is in its third week. And for customers, it turns out breaking up with Time Warner isn't necessarily easy.

A couple days after the CBS blackout began, Nikki Muller tried to leave Time Warner because she was moving from Burbank, Calif., one of the areas affected by the blackout. She got caught in an unusually long queue. Muller was on hold for more than two hours -- enough time to eat dinner and watch a couple shows, she said.

(Marketplace called Time Warner's toll-free line this afternoon and got through in just a few minutes; the time and day you call seem to matter.)

It’s too soon to say if anecdotal reports of high call volume mean Time Warner Cable is losing lots of customers over the CBS spat. Mike Hodel, an analyst with Morningstar, said  and he thinks not. He said consumers are less likely to notice programming outages over the summer. It’s the fall prime time season -- and especially NFL football season, he said -- when they’ll get mad.

Our feeling is that until you get to a point where there’s real consumer pain, like you’ll likely have around the football season, that both sides have an incentive to continue to push for what they want and not give in,” he said.

In other words, expect the brinkmanship to continue until September.

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I too sat on hold for days trying to break up with Time Warner Cable, who bought out my Internet service provider in June. This followed days on hold trying to find out why e-mail wouldn't work anymore. It was nothing but a mess, and I bailed, sent their bill to the regulators and found a competent ISP. Apparently I'm not alone. Money Magazine put TWC in this this year's "Customer Service Hall of Shame." Now, with your report about the tussle with CBS, it looks like TWC just doesn't know when to stop.



2013 Customer Service Hall of Shame

By Karen Aho, MSN Money

Dear Time Warner cable account?

Yes I said account because you are to Time Warner nothing more than a nameless faceless account number.

Want your CBS broadcast back? Here's a secret Marketplace won't let you in on.

U H F Antenna.

NO not "rabbit ears". That stupid nickname refers to V H F antennas.

I mean U H F. Think fish bone or loop or bow tie.

Now, years ago you weren't duped by Best-Buy into buying one of those dumb, tunerless HD monitors while they were "helping" you sign up for cable ,right?

Sorry can't help you with those cable only CBS channels.

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