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Archive for November, 2010

Charter is Broken

For years I was a customer of Charter Communications, but not anymore. Years ago, when I was a Caltech student, I signed up for cable TV and Internet. Charter had a special cable modem service could get on the Caltech network. It worked but was never  very fast or reliable. Once I graduated from Caltech, I switched to Speakeasy, and soon after, Charter stopped partnering with Caltech.

Over the years I kept my digital cable service and even added the premium channels. Sometimes the Video-on-Demand channels would abruptly reset the cable box, but for the most part I enjoyed having a wide selection of movies and shows like The Tudors and Dexter available any time.

A few months ago the Video-on-Demand channels became spottier, and in August my cable stopped working altogether. I called Charter’s tech support twice, only to be told by the agent that there was an outage in my area, they did not know when the outage would be over, and that my account would be credited once the outage was over. The agents told me to wait a week or two. Weeks later, I called again only to be told by a machine that there was an outage in my area with no predicted end time.

In the last few days I tried again. This time a machine went through the process of sending data to my cable box with no success. I spoke with an agent who was vague about technicians all being busy with a Video-on-Demand outage. She said she would put me through to an outage callback hotline, but the forwarding failed because the system couldn’t get my contact information.

Today, I tried to log into my online account and may have entered the wrong password several times. As a result, I was temporarily locked out. When I chatted with an agent online, she said that she couldn’t find any record of my online account and couldn’t reset it. I would have to create a new online account, even though I’ve had an online account for years.

Finally, I took the plunge. I called again, this time to terminate my account. The agent expressed surprise that the outage had lasted so long and offered to reduce my services if I wanted (I don’t have much time for TV anyway) and to send a tech when one was available (whenever that would be), but I stood my ground and have now severed my relationship with Charter.

I look forward to saving around $1000 a year. I might sign up for Netflix and take advantage of their online streaming, which is way cheaper.

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Tone deaf

I always thought I might be tone deaf because, despite years of piano lessons, I still can’t identify notes. Sometimes I can’t distinguish pitch, and I absolutely cannot control my voice to match a note when I sing. However, on the online tonedeaf test, I scored 83.3%, which is considered better than normal. I guess I’m not tone deaf.

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