Charter Communications - Charter Cable, Installation disaster on a 1890's historic home in Greenville South Carolina
November 19, 2008
DAMAGE TO HARDWOOD FLOORS IN RECENTLY RESTORED HISTORIC 1890'S HOME UNRESOLVED
I am normally a patient understanding man. However Charter Communications has pushed me to my limit. I am a design/build project coordinator for new construction and remodels. I handle everything for my clients from concept to competition. A high speed internet connection is very much a necessity to my livelihood at home, in the office and on location.. In this case I was hired to restore and renovate a 1980's home in Greenville which was the original first home of Mr. Mills.
I tried to use my Sprint wireless service; however the speeds are just simply inadequate to perform the tasks that I need to do on a daily basis. I searched to find a high speed internet service provider in the area that would better support my needs. While I was warned by neighbors and other members of the community not to use this company, they seem to have a corner on the market. Verizon's FIOS service is not available and Charter was the only provider in the area that I could choose from to get the service that I needed. In this six month time period, I have had more issues with our service than any other cable internet service provider ever.
ACCOUNT SETUP; I initially attempted to setup new service through their online website. The only service I wanted was the high speed internet; however after completing the process which took a great deal of time, I was told that I would be contacted by a Customer Service Agent who will further aid in the new account setup.
TWO DAYS LATER when I received the call, I was greeted by an individual who didn't speak English as their native language. In other words their English is quite limited and at time I couldn't understand what was being communicated. I was amazed that even though I completed the personal information profile and service address information for the new account setup online, I was still being asked all the same questions over the phone.
Within the phone call, the representative made several attempts to sell/upgrade me to various different packages, even though I made it very clear that I only wanted high-speed internet service. Unable to fully understand what was being communicated to me because of a language barrier, I asked to speak with another representative. The representative became very persistent on being able to help me telling me that another agent wouldn't be able to assist me any different. When I asked for his name or company ID number, I was quickly ask to wait while he would put me on hold to transfer me to another agent. After a 20 minute wait on hold I was finally assisted by another person.
I was disappointed that I had wasted so much time completing the process online to establish a new account when I still had to provide all the information over the telephone and waste more of my time. I was even more disappointed to discover that after all of this, the earliest appointment for service activation/connection was TWO WEEKS AWAY. When all I was requesting was Internet service and even the old cable from the prior tenants was still connected to the house, they should have been able to establish the account, mail me the modem so that I could have connected it to an existing line in the house and then offer the option for a service call if that didn't work; But that is not their policy. The modem itself is a whole other issue the fact that claim to provide the equipment for you yet they bill each client a $3 rental fee per month for a modem that only costs $20. Then if you ever move or discontinue service, and don't return the modem, they have enough nerve to charge a client a large equipment fee for a modem which you have paid for after 6 or 7 months of service.
INSTALLATION DAY; after waiting 2 weeks for Charter's technician's to come out to the house to perform a new install I waited all day for the moment of arrival. It was a hectic day for me as I needed to get out of town to return to Palm Beach in order to pickup and bring back historically correct antique lights which were needed for the project here in Greenville. It was getting rather late and I wasn't sure if they were actually going to show up. The technician did finally show up, however he seemed extremely frustrated, angry and rushed. After some light conversation I soon found out why; it seems that the poor guy was by himself and had several more clients to see before he could end his day.
Even though there was an existing cable to the house and several outlets around the interior of the house, his orders were to run a new cable from the house to the street and also to install a new box. All which caused so much trouble for me later on as I will explain.
First, while I would have liked to have had the cable outlet in the media room with all of the other media equipment, this would have required him to get a cable under the house, run it through the basement and then up to that room; which would have been extra work for him and put him farther behind in his schedule. I tried my best to be accommodating and let him offer suggestions.
He suggested that I let him install the outlet in an adjacent room; he also asked if it was alright to run the cable and attach it to the exterior of the house as it would make the run much easier and shorter for him. I went with his suggestion assuming he knew best in order to complete a professional job and I went back upstairs to work.
Shortly thereafter he called for me and had asked that I test the connection to confirm it was working, sign his paperwork, and give him the required payment so that he could be on his way. After all appeared to be functioning I did as he requested so that we could both depart and be on to our next obligation. He left, very quickly, without informing me of any problems that occurred.
It was upon my return that I had noticed exactly what occurred the night of the install. Being in a hurry the technician removed all of the old pre-existing cable from the house in order to install the new cable, and he just left all of the old cable on the ground around the yard. I also noticed that he had left a few tools and a box of cable ties on an exterior window sill; I figured that this was because it was dark that night and he was in an extreme hurry to leave. But I have a feeling that he knew he had just made a major mistake and wanted to get out of here before anything was noticed.
After going inside I continued to notice what a rushed and sloppy job he had done. Installing an outlet in the side room he drilled from the outside in, and obviously not taking the proper precaution, he completely misjudged the point of entry and while drilling thorough the wall he had made a 6 inch gouge, about a inch deep into the top of the original hardwood floors of the home which I had just had completely restored. It's still sitting that way-damaged! I had to also personally clean up after him; removing the saw dust which came from drilling into the hardwood floors as well as debris from the cable itself which the technician had just left laying around the area inside the house where he was working.
They charged me for this installation service call so why didn't they clean up their mess? I forgot to mention that a real outlet was never even installed; instead a cable was feed through the wall from the exterior and just an end piece installed on it making it look as if it's a half finished job. Also after installing a new exterior box the technician didn't even bother to hookup/tie-in the cables that he had disconnected from the old box these are the cables that go to the other outlets throughout the home.
Imagine just how horrible that looks and how I feel to have something ruined like this on one of my projects. Not to mention that the homeowner is more than upset and has refused final payment until I have properly corrected the damage. After all we had just spent $8,000 restoring the original floors and having them restored and refinished.
I now have a very upset client, am unable to collect on my final bill because until this is resolved, and I am able to proceed with the repairs the job is not finished. I deserve and am due compensation for this I have been trying to get a resolution for months and I am being ignored. This is holding me up from attending to other projects.
(I do have pictures of the damaged floor that I have attached one for your reference.)
After returning and finding the damage I called the 800 customer service number which I had for Charter Cable's Customer Service. Several times I was lost in a loop within the automated system as I was transferred from department to department each time having to call back to start over. On top of which, every time I was transferred to another department or agent I had to explain the entire incident all over. After nearly 2 hours I was told that this was a matter that had to be handled with the local branch office. I was given the number to call, which was (864) 235-6181.
When attempting to call that number all it did was ring ring ring not even a computer system picked up or a voice mail box to leave a message. I verified that this was the correct number through information and an online search. After spending a half day trying to get someone on the other end of the phone at the local office, I called the 800 number once again and this time I was told that they would be mailing me a damage report.
After six weeks of waiting and not receiving the damage report as I was told, I was a little upset. Not having the luxury of spending another half day on the phone I send out an email trying to get a resolution to this matter on September 17th (see attached email)
When I returned to Greenville once again several weeks later, I called to follow up on where the situation was. I was informed that a damage report needed to be opened. So as of October 27th I had been informed that to date no report was filed or notes made. I was told that a DMA claim could be completed over the phone. After going over all the details I we completed the claim and I received a DMA conformation/claim number of 7098997. I was told that by opening this claim report the issue will be rectified within 5-7 days.
On either 11/6 or 11/7 I called to follow up on the claim. Once again I got a representative that could barely speak English who told me that it was still in process. I asked to speak with his supervisor, he then placed me on hold, transferred me to think that I was speaking with a supervisor after explaining the entire situation all over again to him I was told the same thing that the DMA claim was under review. I also discovered that the first agent just transferred me to another employee and not a supervisor as I had requested. Much to my amazement and frustration I then demanded to speak with a supervisor once again.
I spend nearly 1 hour on hold and finally was able to speak with a supervisor (JC Extension # 833084 Employee #839281) After re-explaining the situation once again fully noting that the floors are damaged and that I am unable to leave town because my client deems the project is not yet completed and refuses to issue final payment until I have rectified this problem and properly fixed the floors.
Because I will have to be here when the cable company finally decides to come over to take a look at the floor damage as well as then having to stay and oversee the repairs so that I can report back to my client, finalize the job and collect payment.
I am now 2 weeks behind schedule for another client in West Palm Beach because I am stuck here dealing with this. My client here in Greenville is completely upset and dissatisfied and is wanting to charge me a daily fee each day this goes un resolved because it is affecting her from putting the home on the market with her realtor, since her realtor advised that she would have to remove the listing while she awaits the first floor flooring to be repaired and refinished. If this continues any further she will be seeing legal action against me.
I told JC that my only priority right now was to rectify this so that I can return to my regular course of business in Florida. I stressed that my phone number will be changing and that I wanted this noted in the file so that contact is not lost. My other concern is that the weather is getting colder and I need to have this issue resolved so that the repairs and restoration can begin before the cold weather starts to have a negative impact on the possibility of ever getting the floors to match the second story. I pleaded with him on getting a solution, expediting this seeing all of the trouble that I have gone through and the time that I have put into this.
JC had told me as other had previously told me that there was nothing that he could do as it was under review at the local branch. I asked who I could call and speak with directly over at the local branch so that I could get a person on the phone who would be able to get this issue finally resolved and put to rest. He then said that it was against policy to give me a phone number and had told me that I would have to drive to the office located at 17 Lindsay Ave. in order to speak with someone over there to rectify this situation.
On Monday 11/10 Without any prior notice, a man by the name of Kevin Galloway appeared on the doorstep of the property. After announcing himself he informed me that he was here for the claim. I was more than happy to see him, but had asked why he didn't call first. His response was that he would have but there wasn't a phone number in the system.
Kevin was very helpful apologetic and assured me that this situation would be rectified. He explained to me that as a new supervisor he would see to it that he would personally follow up on this. I explained to him that my frustration was not only with the installer who had done a poor job, but also that my biggest frustration was with the breakdown in communication between the departments within Charter Cable, their poor customer service, lack of knowledge of the issue when I would call back having me to re-explain the entire issue each and every time I placed a call or even when I was transferred, lack of follow through and lack of customer service knowledge.
I should have been able to setup the DMA claim on my very first call to customer service instead every time you call it seems that a different answer is given depending on the individual that you are speaking with, whether it be true or false. After seeing the damage, and taking the time to listen to me and all the problems I have had over the course of these past several months; Kevin turned me onto the company's public relations director Liz Walker and provided me with her phone number which is (864) 254-7429.
That Monday afternoon, After Kevin had departed; I immediately called her and began to give her the description of what had happened, how I had been treated and the lack of proper response and resolution in a timely fashion. Liz said that she would get back with me and asked what phone number was best for reaching me. I gave her what she requested and also informed her of the urgency to resolve this, stating that it is a top priority for me so that I can get this job completed, try to salvage any goodwill in my clients opinion, collect my final payment and move on to getting back to my other clients in West Palm Beach who are becoming increasingly frustrated at the delays as the holiday season approaches.
It is now a week and a half from when I first contacted Liz and was assured by her personally that she would be following up and I have not yet heard back from Liz, nor have I heard back from Kevin.
It's now several weeks since I finally received confirmation that my complaint was officially written up and months since my floors have been damaged and I had initially submitted a request for action. I have not yet received a proper answer, nor have I receive compensation for the damage which has occurred. I am still requesting that Charter Communications live up to its obligations and follow through doing the right thing. I am no longer holding my breath and waiting patiently. This issue is now costing me by not being able to attend to my other client jobs, not being able to receive final payment on the job here in Greenville, and what's worse is that I am soon going to be charged daily fees by my client until the job is complete or possibly having to deal with legal action by my client if she proceeds with that option which she has the right to do.
I NEED HELP! I am now requesting the help of the Local and/or National Media, City Counsel, Government Regulators, and/or Legal Counsel, to help me finally get this resolved. Charter Communication is unresponsive to customer complaints and seems to believe that they have no obligation to the consumer. I think that this is directly related to the fact that they have no competition in the area. The state needs to work harder to deregulate so more like companies can come in and create competition. That is the only way Charter will clean up their act and become more responsible to its clients.
If anyone can please help me I'd so greatly appreciate it. As you can see from the damage to the property and what I have already been through dealing with client schedule delays and other work issues, the amount of time that I have put into dealing with Charter Cable and feeling as though I'm being stalled or ignored - I feel that I deserve compensation and I believe Charter knows that as well and has simply been putting me off/stalling me and making things very difficult just to see if I will give up. Months ago I would have been very happy with just being issued a check so that I could simply proceed with carefully repairing, restoring and refinishing the floor But now that I have been given the run around or have been ignored and this has stretched on to the point that it's costing me client satisfaction, scheduling issues, reputation and more.
I'm not just asking for your help for myself; I am sure that I am not the only person out there trying to deal with a company that doesn't seem to care about its customers or how it conducts business. Please help me and hopefully it will set standards and expectations that help to protect others like me from the same treatment.
UPDATE as of December 14, 2008
After sending the above email on November 20th, I was contacted by Michael Henry and Pat Hayes(last name spelling unknown) by phone on November 21st ; both individuals had left a voice mail message for me.
I attempted to return both of their phone calls, first on November 21st, then again on November 24th. Unable to reach them, I had left messages each time I called. I have never received a returned call from either Michael or Pat.
For reference I also have attached the few responses I received by email after sending the email to members of charter's corporate team on November 20th.
The morning of November 21st I was informed by neighbors that people were seen at the property; after returning to the property that afternoon I noticed that an unannounced visit had been attempted by Bonnie Lopez and Kevin Galloway as I had discovered their business cards which they had left at the door. Later that evening, Kevin Galloway had showed up once again unannounced and apologized for dropping the ball. He went on to explain that he was new and had mistakenly given me his incorrect phone number the first time he was out to the property to inspect the damage and process the claim.
I followed up with Bonnie Lopez by phone and email; explaining that I was out of town trying to attend to other business and returned just to get this resolved. I then worked with her and submitted the estimates for the damage claim report that she requested on Friday November 28th. I followed up on December 1st resending the documentation to ensure that she had received the information as I didn't want to risk any miscommunication during the Thanksgiving holiday period. I was assure by Betty that this would be handled for me, after explaining to her in detail that that I was back in town just to take care of this matter I was assured that it would be handled and resolved promptly.
On the evening of December 2nd or 3rd I woke up from a nap around 7pm alarmed to see a van parked in the front of the house and someone with a flashlight walking around the property I felt alarmed and called the police. Shortly thereafter I then discovered that it was a charter employee who (again unannounced) was sent out to perform a cleanup install I had asked him why he was working so late and why he didn't call, he informed me that the number he called which was listed for me was the wrong number. He went on to further apologize for startling me saying that at this late hour after dark he has run into many problems of these sorts.
On Tuesday December 9th I was contacted by Erica Brown. She called to ask for my mailing address, saying that they had it wrong in the computer system. Knowing that I've continued to provide this information on numerous other phone calls, and knowing that I continue to receive my billing statement to the correct address I confronted her on why she needed this information once again. Her answer was that she needed to mail me a damage claim report.
I once again mentioned that this needed to be expedited, explaining that this has gone on for months, explaining that this information was already submitted once, that Kevin had already previously been out to the property for the claim report inspection and submission and that I would simply email her all of the information again for her records.
Later in the afternoon on December the 9th on another phone call, Erica had said that I needed to speak with Betty Strimco (last name unsure of spelling).
I immediately called Betty and was informed that this needed to be handled as an insurance claim. I was told that I would need to meet an insurance adjuster out at the property to make the report. I informed Betty that I had been trying to resolve this for months now Explaining that I had to return to West Palm Beach to attend to my other clients; after all I had been up waiting in Greenville for charter after being assured that this would be taken care of promptly and that I had wasted enough time waiting for a resolution which never came.
I explained that I now have to make arrangements now to fly back to meet with the adjuster. This upsets me for many reasons and one of which is because I find it odd that this would necessary after the report has already been submitted, filed, along with photographs of the damage both from what I submitted and also from an employee of Charter Cable after they had sent Kevin out who had already done the previous inspection prior to submitting the DMA report/claim.
On December 12th I received an email from Erika Brown stating that she will not be able to settle my claim that she needs the claim to be submitted by the owner of the property. If this was the case why hadn't this been brought to my attention months ago. It's been made very clear that I was hired as a design consultant to work on the home. The owner refuses to pay my final bill because of this issue; until the matter is resolved I am being fined a daily fee of $150 which began as of November 3rd. This matter is now looking at serious legal issues and I cannot get the cooperation of Charter Cable. To add insult to injury, the owner of the home of which I was hired to take care of and restore now has to deal with an issue which she is furious over, an issues which has caused problems for both her and myself, an issue that I have been trying to resolve so that the job can be completed and she can be made happy and any further legal problems can be avoided. I've had so much added aggravation over this that I cannot believe that this is being handled this way.. After this has been drawn out for months, it's now costing me dearly. After I've been told that I need to fly back to meet insurance adjusters especially now, after I had just previously spent almost 2 weeks in town waiting on charter to resolve this issue without any proper follow through as was promised on Charter Cables end. I feel as though I am being given the run around a run around that is solely at my expense while it appears that no consideration or support is given on behalf of Charter Cable.
From here I am demanding action be taken; calling on any source that can help me get this resolved without getting the run around
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