October 6, 2013

Time Warner Cable’s reputation tarnished

A virtual monopoly in much of Maine has enabled the cable TV provider to get away with poor customer service, surveys suggest.

By Ray Routhier rrouthier@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 3)

Today's poll: Time Warner

Have you had good customer service from Time Warner?

Yes

No

View Results

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Tim Ryan of Lisbon sits in front of his television with Dish Network service last month. Ryan canceled his Time Warner TV service in favor of the DISH network after eight years as a Time Warner customer. He said price increases and rigid customer service representatives – who shut his service off after he missed his bill deadline by a day – convinced him to drop the cable provider.

Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

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Plucknette-Farmen said that if Time Warner didn’t sell channels in packages, some channels wouldn’t survive. Experts say TV content producers, including the channels and their owners, and the TV service providers would make less money if they allowed channels to be purchased a la carte, or one at time.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona sponsored a bill in the U.S. Senate earlier this year proposing a law to force a la carte channel options. Cable and satellite providers, as well as content producers, are likely to fight it.

Experts say that the attitude of Time Warner and other cable companies toward customer desires is likely to change as people’s consumption of technology continues to change and competition increases. In the past decade, cable companies like Time Warner have seen more competition from satellite TV companies and programming on the Internet.

Temkin, the Boston-based market researcher, said that if Time Warner and other cable companies don’t want more customers to learn to live without them, they might follow the lead of banks, who have seen their customer service ratings go way up recently.

Banks had been regional monopolies for a long time, but were deregulated, and now compete nationally against each other and with new companies fueled by technologies.

“Banks finally realized they needed to treat customers better, and they’re doing it,” said Temkin. “When you don’t have a lot of competition, the reality is you don’t have to focus on customer service. But (cable companies) are putting their businesses at risk if they don’t become more customer-centric.”

Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

rrouthier@pressherald.com

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Today's poll: Time Warner

Have you had good customer service from Time Warner?

Yes

No

View Results