Do The Right Thing

I applaud companies that have grown to a sizable employee count but don’t lose their human touch. After all, a company is nothing other than a living breathing organism made out of humans. So why is it, that employees in BIG companies seem to lose all common sense and make decisions that hurt the business in the end?

I recently called Time Warner Cable and told them I would like to terminate our internet service as we are being evicted from our office building (it’s going residential) and the new building we’re moving into doesn’t offer their service. What happened was baffling: Their response was that I have to pay a $900 early termination fee for Tattly and CreativeMornings each.

Completely stunned at the absurdity of this, I tried to talk to a customer support, kindly explaining that this makes absolute no sense. We are moving to a location that DOESN’T offer their service. Why would we be punished for that?

All I got was: “There’s nothing I can do!”

If I would have been on the other side of that call, my soul would have shriveled up and died. I in fact feel for the Time Warner employee that wasn’t able to do the right thing.

Do you run a company? Do you make sure your employees have the power to do the right thing? I will make sure mine do.

26 Comments leave a comment below

  1. Argh, Tina I feel for you. It always amazes me how the big telcos in North America always act like big evil empires. There’s no reason for them to, unless it’s to solidify their abysmal reputation as evil empires.

    Alas, the only thing that seems to be working is going public and launching a social media outcry. So, swissmiss followers, I guess we should rally and write angry emails at TWC. That’ll probably work…

    So if you tell us what we should do, we’ll do it!

    Also, I’m pretty sure there are service companies that offer month-by-month contracts. Those guys are usually much nicer than the evil empires because they know customers can change operators when dissatisfied. And cheaper. We have a few here in Toronto and I still don’t understand why would anyone still put up with the hungry giants. Maybe an option for the new location?

  2. This is unreal. Everyone get in touch with TWC and tell them to fix this crap. Otherwise, we’ll boycott their shitty service.

  3. Times like these are when you take your complaint to Facebook…it’s funny (and sad) how fast they make things right when it’s in a public forum.

  4. Good grief, these folks. We recently moved to a small Ohio town where TWC is the only option, and after calling last week to reduce service (unbundling the TV service we haven’t used at all) and being handed over three times to people who were unable to “actually” make the change needed, but who were completely empowered to passive-aggressively chastise my decision to not want the extra+unnecessary television service, I found myself on the verge of preferring no service at all to rewarding this belligerent behemoth with my dollars.

    No customer should feel that way!

    Prior to moving we had AT&T, and when we moved they expressed regret that they couldn’t provide service in our area, but they wished us well and broke ties without charging anything extra.

  5. Unfortunately, TWC’s call center staff are not empowered to handle any situation that even slightly varies from standard protocol.

    We spent 5 mos trying to get our TWC concern resolved via call center (we were actually told, each month, “Oh, that was just a timing issue, it won’t appear on your bill next month…” … only to have the same issue reoccur, and reoccur). We eventually had our issue resolved within 1 week of contacting them via Twitter. Although our experience with the call center was awful, at least the Twitter team is empowered to approach challenges with a human perspective, and not just as an automaton (no offense to the call center intended – it must be awful to be viewed as a cog that can’t be trusted outside of the multiple choice framework).

  6. When I google “Time Warner Cable” and CEO I get – with a link “We are listening – Send a messsage”. Not sure it will help, but worth a try?

  7. This is the kind of things that make me work with you even more every day! <3 You are awesome and you are absolutely right!

  8. They don’t care because they don’t have to. In most circumstances, cable/internet is already a regional monopoly dictated by nothing except your address (confirmed by the fact that TWC is not available in your new building). They have all the power because either you deal with their attitude or you don’t get service. Same deal with public hearings about MTA fare increases — those are also just for show since the MTA knows everyone still has to get to work regardless of their decisions.

    As others have mentioned above, often times the service reps are themselves tied to arcane rules and practices by managers many, many levels above them.

    Once Mad Men ends in six weeks, I’m going to cancel TV and keep only internet. I also have TWC, so I’m already prepping for that call. I might even search for a phone call recording app, ask the rep if they mind being recorded, and if they don’t mind, I’m recording all of it. It will either be the fastest cable cancellation of all time, or I’ll get two free years of service that like guy from a few months ago. You have to fight fire with fire sometimes.

  9. You’ll have to wait, but I’ve always had much better service by physically going to cable company’s local customer service location. I’ve had no problems stopping TV service (while keeping internet) or cancelling because of a move.

    It’s annoying that you have to do this as an in-person, confrontational way but you might have better luck.

  10. In the nicest and friendliest possible way:

    What are you complaining about?

    You apparently made an agreement and now do not want to “do the right thing” by doing what you agreed to do?

    Asking your ISP to allow you to get out of a contract (which you apparently enter into) in your circumstances certainly sounds like a reasonable thing to do and I am sincerely sorry that you were not successful in that.

    But suggesting their response is absurd and asserting that it falls short of them “doing the right thing” sounds to me like you are just complaining that you did not get your way.

    The risk of you a) having to move and b) wishing to move to somewhere where the ISP’s service is not on offer, if you did have to move, was foreseeable when you entered into the agreement, ie it was up to you to evaluate the risks.

  11. Theory 1:

    Talking to the person you get immediately via calling is probably going to a subcontractor in a call center in… who knows. That’s why Samantha got much faster results via Twitter.

    If you want to make some noise about it, Twitter or other places are good. An alternative would be to contact the Public Utilities Commission for your area. TWC and any other local monopoly MUST answer any complaints lodged with the PUC, since the PUC is what grants them their monopoly with cable TV. That, they care about.

    (based on my life as a former TWC employee)

    Theory 2:

    I’m pretty sure they’ve recouped any building costs at this point, which is why you have contracts with termination fees. The upcoming merger with Comcast has all the various parts inside Time Warner wanting to stay alive through the merger. So, they are focusing on profitability, not growth. If they’re making 15% profit compared to the similar department in Comcast, they survive and the other side doesn’t. That doesn’t help you to know, though.

    (based on what I’ve seen with prices in my local area purchasing fiber from TWC and feedback from other local network people)

  12. Hey Nic—in the nicest and friendliest possible way—grow a soul.

  13. Give Nic a break – this was a completely self-serving and frankly hypocritical post from Tina: she doesn’t genuinely care about the Time Warner Cable employees, I’d be willing to guess she doesn’t even care about all the other ‘little guys’ getting ripped-off by the cable companies all the time, who don’t have this sort of popular blog to sound off about it, and ultimately get their way.
    What she really wanted to happen, was someone in management from TWC to see this post, or hear the Twitter storm from all the sheep-like Swiss-miss followers, and get in touch with a nice corporate apology and refund. Then everyone can carry on with business as usual.
    By all means sound off when you feel like you’ve been ripped off, but don’t dress it up as compassionate concern.
    Unsubscribing from this blog’s feed.

  14. @ Not a fan of people like Nic

    Soul? What about integrity, or ethics? Doing what we agreed to do, whether or not it feels good or suits us?

    It would be fine to present a subjective view that the ISP is meanie. But it sounds as if that is all they are guilty of.

    The writer has significant social media power and, in my view, uses it unreasonably here, ie why slander a party because they insist that you do what you agreed to?

    How does this sit with the 100s of other inspiring “be nice” posts?

  15. I’m not an attorney, but think this is actually a pretty interesting legal question. Who’s the party breaking the contract? Tina is moving, so is she breaking the contract? TWC cannot provide the service in her new location, so are they the party breaking the contract? Or is the evicting landlord forcing Tina to relocate, the party that instigated this chain of unfulfillment, in some way responsible? Aka is the landlord’s decision creating damages for which it is responsible, including TWC contract severance costs, and other relo expenses? Nic’s point that Tina is the breaker, may indeed be true, I haven’t read the TWC clause in some time. If they’re comprehensive, the contract would state that relocating to a non service area does not waive severance fees. I also of course haven’t seen the landlord/Tina agreement, nor been privy to notifications regarding the residential switch. But far outsider looking in, I the reponsible party for the cost of breaking the TWC contract might be the landlord. Pursuit of this question and reimbursement from the landlord, depending on Tina’s historic relationship with with him/her/it, might feel too personal, or less obvious, compared to TWC. (One final thought, there’s not always a responsible party in every little thing, but in this case, I think you might have a case. $1800 is worth paying for a qualified legal opinion.). Good luck in the new place. My experience has been that for all the squeezy moments of relocating, the upside is worth it. I’ve even read that relo typically generates a 20% revenue increase. That oughta cover the cable bill:)

  16. Interesting arguments both ways. One thing to keep in mind for those who believe Tina is breaking her contract with TWC is that in many cases(I am not sure about Tina’s) is that her “agreement” with TWC is not truly a contract in the spirit of the word. All too often the “service” provider is a monopoly And as such, her “contract ” was a take it or leave it proposition. I am sure when TWC reached its contract with the local powered that be, it had a team of lawyers on one side of the table editing out conditions that they found onerous. The customers of these companies do not have this option.

  17. Simple – DON’T PAY. And don’t be a slave to some stupid credit score. $1800 against a blip on an arbitrary report has zero “real effect” on you. Besides you don’t need credit, you should want cash.

  18. To the Nics of this world: just because TWC is in their legal right still doesn’t mean what they are doing is morally right. Tina is not cancelling on a fluke, she’s being evicted from her building into an area that TWC doesn’t service.

    Doing the right thing is corporations sometimes behaving like human beings and trying to find a compromise solution instead of bullying their customers.

    BTW, you know what you can do with $1800? Buy several copies of every single book on this list and send them to a couple of telco Nics. Interesting stories about how treating customers nicely actually brings more business. But I guess only brainless swissmiss followers believe in such stories…

  19. Just wait until Comcast and Time Warner merge. They will be able to do what ever they want.

  20. I’m not one to defend cable companies, but when I relocated my small Brooklyn business last year, to a building that didn’t have Time-Warner, they waived the termination fee, and only billed me for the portion of the last month’s service that we actually used.

    You might want to reach out to their small business department, that’s who I dealt with in getting rid of the service.

    And I agree with those above who say don’t pay if they won’t waive the fee.

  21. We just switched to another company because of their terrible service and product offerings. Paying less now and getting much more.

  22. I cannot properly express how much I hate TWC. Like, SO MUCH. I live in Austin and was giddy when Google Fiber announced its plans here. I’m not sure when I’ll be actually able to sign up for service but the day I get to cancel TWC in exchange for Google Fiber will be glorious.

    Regarding your issue, it may help to escalate the call to a supervisor or manager. Knowing TWC’s record tho, it probably won’t. Good luck!

  23. Tina, make sure to fight this. We just went through a similiar situation as TWC couldn’t provide reliable service in our building. There was only a resolution after a multitude of on-site visits, rewiring, etc. etc. but it was their time, not ours. And now we’re happily with a new provider.

  24. I don’t see how Tina is choosing to break a contract. She is no longer able to receive service at her current location (due to a no-fault eviction) and TWC is unable to fulfill their end of the contract at the new service location.

    It’s not like she’s just trying to escape the contract; she just can’t receive the services being supplied any longer.

  25. I think it’s disappointing that Tina is being held to her contract but where I live (Zürich, Switzerland) the same rules apply. If you commit to paying for a service you are obligated to pay regardless of what changes occur in the future that may make this arrangement no longer convenient.

    TWC doesn’t care Tina has to move and why should they? As one Swiss friend who owns his own business explained it, he still has to pay salaries etc. and counts on these contracts to do just that. With TWC being much bigger they just don’t care but I am surprised one would expect them to.

  26. Television network companies that don’t move with the times and still expect their customers to pay increased fees for the shows they cant even choose to watch. That’s why I left DSTV.

    Its one thing to understand that a big company cannot allow for a bit of discretion, but when some cannot even provide and efficient service for their paying customers, that really gets me. Their websites are not even user friendly or they have a call center but they keep you holding for 15 minutes before you speak to someone.

    There is truly a lot of common sense and care missing from many big companies lately.