Opinion: When will Spectrum put its customers first?

By on April 21, 2019

Spectrum repair truck in Kitty Hawk Saturday afternoon. Outages continued after the truck left.

At some point I’m sure Spectrum will have things working again, we’ll be reliably back online, and then part two of the aggravation of losing my Internet connection begins.

Unless I call Spectrum and plead my case, they will charge me for a service they did not provide. I can think of no other business that would dare to do that. Let me amend that slightly: No other business that cares about its customers would do dare that.

We’ve had four days of sporadic Internet service from Spectrum here on the Outer Banks. It’s hard to say just how much service we’ve lost since the connection was first severed Thursday; it has been hit-and-miss since then, and the miss is far, far greater than the hit.

It’s frustrating and a little bit scary because my workload is building. As a writer, most of my research and how I reach out to people is done online; all stories are submitted online. There are no exceptions to that rule.

Twenty-five or 30 years ago, it wasn’t quite that way. But this is how we have evolved. And I’m not the only one relying on Spectrum to keep me connected. Numerous local businesses use what is supposed to be reliable high-speed Internet.

Yes, there are other Internet providers. But when Spectrum is working, it is significantly faster than any other. An extra 10 seconds may not sound like much until it is multiplied 60 or 70 times a day.

As exasperating as it has been to lose Internet service for four days, that irritation pales beside the anger I feel knowing that to get a refund on Spectrum’s failure to provide service, I will have to call them and ask for it.

There is no excuse for forcing a customer to have to take the initiative for a company to fulfill its obligations. Why should Spectrum be free to charge for service that was not provided? If I don’t fulfill my part of the contract, they’ll cut me off.

I am trying to fathom what possible excuse there could be for not automatically issuing a credit for an ooutage. Maybe it’s an “act of God” reasoning: A car accident, damaged equipment, a flood, wind damage, human incompetence … it doesn’t matter.

It’s their equipment; they’re responsible for it.

Arguing that they have no way to precisely know where the outage occurred is impossible to believe. When I called to find out what was happening, a computer-generated feminine voice recited my phone number back to me, asked for confirmation, then told me Spectrum Internet, cable and phone were out in my area and technicians were working on the problem.

In other words, they know where the outage is occurring. Are we to understand that they can track the outage by phone number or account, but they cannot apply that information to a bill?

If that is what the decision-makers at Spectrum would have us believe, it can only lead to one conclusion.

Years ago, when AT&T was the only phone system in the country, their cavalier attitude to customer complaints led to a phrase that seems as appropriate today: “We don’t care. We don’t have to.”

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  • 0ldN3ws

    Well either OBV is going to be throttled soon, or were going to need a VPN to access it after this.

    Monday, Apr 22 @ 7:18 am
  • RTaggio

    The answer to the question as to when Spectrum will put its customers first is “When hell freezes over”.

    Monday, Apr 22 @ 7:35 am
  • Rick

    Unfortunately, Spectrum will not change its policies regarding refunds until compelled by ordinance. This should be easy since our politicians are so quick to ensure that ordinances ensuring revenue and other restrictions on the taxpayers are so quickly passed. Regretfully, the inaction of our politicians speaks volumes on their alliance to Spectrum.

    Monday, Apr 22 @ 8:49 am
  • Corolla Resident

    Many “vacationing” guests also count on internet access to be able to do some work in between those beach trips. If we’re not careful, issues like this will scare them off to some other vacation spot that promises a quicker solution than the spotty on/off (mostly off) access during their stay. We really need the April/early May visitors for the local economy to thrive early, and this one hit at a very bad time.

    Monday, Apr 22 @ 8:52 am
  • OBX Part-timer

    My question, in this modern world, why don’t they build a secondary path onto the OBX? Something running along 64? Will provide redundancy as well as better bandwidth. Just sayin’ ?!?! Heck, quite sure Bermuda has better connections out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

    Monday, Apr 22 @ 8:52 am
  • G Larry

    Can’t the towns who give Spectrum permission to transmit do something about this continuing customer abuse?

    Monday, Apr 22 @ 9:34 am
  • surf123

    If the Internet is that vital to your existence then you need to have a 2nd provider or at the minimum a hotspot or an option to tether. As for the speed difference there is no question Spectrum is faster, but unless you are watching videos 24×7 the difference in speed is meaningless unless you have been bamboozled into believing any of the commercials on TV. I have CenturyLink and it works and has no problem supporting my work or watching a movie on Netflix.

    Monday, Apr 22 @ 9:49 am
  • hightider

    I pay $101.60 for the crummiest internet service possible in Eliz City. They claim I get TV, phone, and Internet. Phone is a joke because I have had IP phones for over 10 years and don’t need to pay extra for that since it connects to the Internet. I don’t even own a TV. The service is so bad that I can’t even stream a movie without constant interruptions. I always had Verizon before I came here, for far less and much better service. Spectrum is a joke.

    Monday, Apr 22 @ 10:52 am
  • RAR

    Why can’t this area have more cable choices than Spectrum like the Hampton Roads area? Can the Dare Commissioners do something about this?

    Monday, Apr 22 @ 11:46 am
  • Scott

    Because the attitude is “We already have an internet provider here, why do we need another?” Just like with taxi cabs, etc. The powers that be have the attitude that if something already exists, we don’t need another here.

    Tuesday, Apr 23 @ 11:39 am
  • dave

    This is why many businesses use Century Link; much more dependable. Spectrum couldn’t give two squirts about anybody.

    Monday, Apr 22 @ 2:26 pm
  • christine

    the responses from customer service calls are deplorable they act like you are an idiot and could care less if you are working from home without service

    Monday, Apr 22 @ 6:29 pm
  • Dave H

    The answer to all of this is years behind us in the breakup of Ma Bell or the deregulation of for-profit electric service. Spectrum,Comcast and the other large cable companies should be forced to lease their infrastructure at break-even prices to smaller providers who would compete for the users dollar. Of course, this will NEVER happen because of the inherently corrupt practice of local governments charging the cable companies franchise fees and in effect granting them a monopoly over a given area. The only way things will get better will be when wireless services become fast enough to compete with fiber or cable networks. If all customers affected by this outage were to call Spectrum and demand not to be charged for the outage days, it would likely give Spectrum some incentive to act more quickly to fix problems.

    Monday, Apr 22 @ 7:30 pm
  • r carlin

    When Spectrum tells me “it’s an act of God” I tell them that I’m going to then send my payment to God instead. That usually gets them to concede.

    Monday, Apr 22 @ 8:08 pm
  • Manteoer

    I refused spectrum Internet when installing centurylink was still 6 dollars cheaper a month with the same advertised speed. In 10 years I’ve lost Internet 5 or 6 times. I’m glad spectrum doesn’t have me cornered.

    Tuesday, Apr 23 @ 5:58 am
  • Bob

    Outside of major metropolitan areas, and probably even then in many cases, there is only one decent internet provider, and that is if you are fortunate. Many in rural areas can’t even get one good option. And when there is no competition, there’s also no great incentive to do better or have lower rates…cable providers always seem to end up at the bottom of customer satisfaction lists…and then they want us to trust then when they keep merging? I don’t think so…

    Tuesday, Apr 23 @ 4:56 pm
  • Jeff Walker

    Dare County should do like the town of Wilson and tell the Charter/Time Warner cabal to go screw themselves and roll out their own municipal fiber. Yes the former TWC bought state legislation to prevent local governments from ever doing that again, but there’s no enforcement mechanism to stop it.

    Tuesday, Apr 23 @ 8:31 pm
  • Patrice

    I called Spectrum/Charter as soon as the service went down on that Thursday and they said that they had not yet been notified of an outage and the “Robot” said that it was because there was something wrong with my cable box and trying to get a Rep was like pulling teeth. It went down at 2:10pm on Thursday….;I called again around 6pm and they told me that they did see an outage but did not know why or when it would come back. On Friday morning when I awoke it was still out and called again and they told me that they showed an outage of 3 hours and I told the Rep that it’s been 21 hours and that I wanted credit on my bill for this and then it came back on at 10:10am on that Friday morning. customer service is awful because in order to get to a Rep you have to punch the 0 a thousand times to get a Rep. I’m anxious to see how much is created to my next bill for this. This should be AUTOMATIC because they know there was an outage and we should not have to CALL to get the credit as the Rep told me…if someone doesn’t call, there is no credit on a bill.

    We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place.

    Wednesday, Apr 24 @ 11:17 am
  • Fed Up

    I called for our credit today and the rude rep told me we were only down for 1.5 hours on Saturday! Lady we were down all day Thursday and Friday too! Thank you for this article. When I call back, I will direct her here being as they are unable to track their own outages. Trust me when I say they don’t care.

    Wednesday, Apr 24 @ 8:53 pm
  • Tater Tot

    This whole thread and the opinion column read like some spoiled people whining about a first world problem. When I am out on your beaches in my 4WD I carry a mobile hot spot in my beach backpack so I have a connection at all times. What the heck do y’all do when the power is out for days after a storm? Please gain some perspective. If you want to fire Charter then take action, but grabbing tissues and column inches over internet outages just seems silly to me.

    Thursday, Apr 25 @ 2:12 pm