Why I Cancelled Charter Cable

Last night, right before sitting down to dinner, I did something I rarely ever do. I answered the phone even though the caller ID clearly identified the caller as “Marketing Firm” (602-889-3656). I’ve been dodging calls from this particular marketing firm for over a week and I was anxious to give them a piece of my mind. I was curious to find out what part of the “do not call list” they didn’t understand?

To my surprise, the marketing firm was calling on behalf of Charter Communications. I’ve been a happy DirectTV subscriber for years, but recently signed up for Charter cable after moving into an apartment for a few months while my home is being renovated.

“We understand that you’ve recently cancelled your Charter cable, we’d like to know what the reason is. Was it too expensive?”

That’s when my head nearly exploded. My life with Charter cable was brief and torturous. It lasted all of seven days before I returned the box and cancelled all but my internet access. And now they’re calling me right before dinner to ask why I cancelled my service?! If they’d only listened to my complaints while I was still a subscriber they’d already have that information.

During my week with Charter cable, I called support on several occasions to attempt to resolve serious problems with my Charter DVR — a Scientific Atlanta model that must have been a rebranded DuroSport. When I finally indicated the problems were so serious that I was going to cancel my service, Charter support wasn’t interested.

Now that I actually have cancelled my service they won’t leave me alone.

I started to explain to the marketing firm that the price of Charter’s service had nothing to do with it. At this point I wouldn’t have Charter Cable even if it was free.

I was in the middle of explaining the many reasons why Charter cable sucks, when the lady from the marketing firm made it clear that she wasn’t really interested, and hung up.

That’s too bad, because if she’d stayed on the line she might have actually learned something about why Charter’s cable service doesn’t meet the most basic expectations of the modern media consumer. That seems like the sort of information that Charter’s marketing firm might find useful.

My biggest problem with Charter involves the company’s DVR offering. Cable without a DVR is simply not worth having. After seven years of living with TiVo there’s no turning back. Our family viewing habits have been irrevocably changed.

Having cable without a DVR is like having water without a drinking glass. You can stick your head under the faucet and hope for the best, but really, what’s the point. The difference, of course, is that you need water to live. I can easily live without Charter cable.

Charter’s DVR is worse than no DVR at all. It’s a DVR that leaves you wondering if you really recorded that episode of Lost. During my admittedly brief testing period this DVR missed 3 out of every 4 programs it was scheduled to record. At some point it’s easier to just watch live TV, but that’s something I’m not going to do again in my lifetime.

Charter’s customer service is hopeless. While other companies have outsourced phone support to India, Charter seems to have outsourced support to a state prison system. After numerous calls to Charter’s support line I’m positive that I was speaking with inmates on death row. These are guys (yes, they were all guys) who don’t even seem to know what a DVR is. Worse yet, they don’t care. They sound like they’ve had the life sucked out of them while they wait out their final days wondering what their last meal is going to be.

I could go on, but I won’t bore you with the details about how I was double charged during my initial order, the problems I had with the installer, or how Charter’s other marketing firm calls me nearly every day to see if I’d like to sign up for phone service (because, obviously, Charter’s the kind of company you can count on if you ever need to dial 911).

Charter is operating as if cable companies still have a monopoly. While technically they do (as indicated by the franchise fee on my monthly bill — amazingly, consumers still get taxed for this kind of monopoly) these days there’s plenty of competition for delivery of video content.

I’m happy to spend the next three months consuming media from the huge number of alternate distribution sources available to me. Periodically, I’ll be reporting on my experience here on Medialoper. So far, the early results have been good. Just last week a shadowy figure dropped an unmarked DVD on our doorstep. It turned out to be the final two episodes of Torchwood.

A couple weeks without Charter cable and we’re already ahead on one of our favorite shows.

26 Responses to “Why I Cancelled Charter Cable”

  1. Jim says:

    Because I have a Series 3 TiVo, and those don’t work with DirecTV (which is asswipe stupid, if you ask me), we’d been hanging on with Charter, but when one of the CableCards for the TiVo went out, we were within a day of going with DirecTV.

    However, we actually got a competent person to install new CableCards, and are sticking with Charter for the time being.

    However, if there is ever a situation where I cannot use the TiVo as my DVR for Charter, we’re gone.

  2. Kassia says:

    I’m seriously hoping the Torchwood fairy does the same for the new season of Dr Who…

  3. Tim G. says:

    Once again, I think the message here is: cable is for suckers. It’s reached the point, from what I read continually, that it is not even debatable anymore. Apartment dwellers are often stuck with cable, and that is sad indeed. When one is put in a position of not being able to get their DirecTV, I think the government should issue some type of voucher. Cable companies are criminal. And being forced to use a bad DVR should be the object of a class action lawsuit.

  4. Jim says:

    TiVo Series 3 HD DVR, including the ability to play downloaded .avi files directly on the TiVo.

    When DirecTV allows me to do that, I’m there.

    Or to put it another way: your DirecTV DVR is a PC, my TiVo is a Mac.

  5. Kirk says:

    This all has me thinking I’ll be sticking with my TiVo Series 1 for another couple of years. HD is overrated.

  6. Tim G. says:

    Glad to see you recognize the superiority of the Mac.

    But wait, you mean you can actually PLAY an .avi file on your TiVo?!

    Yeah, that’s a bell I can do without. I’m sure there are lots of whistles too, but the bottom line is: 1) HD quality, 2) storage space and plenty of it and 3) usability.

    Kirk has his needs (recording lo-def, mono TV for later playback) and I have mine (recording movies and a couple of TV shows in HD and pristine sound).


  7. Kirk says:

    You might be surprised Tim. TV is actually in stereo these days. And DirectTV’s digital signal is hardly low-def.

    Now Hulu, that’s low-def.

  8. Tim G. says:

    Here’s the great contradiction: I’ve seen your TV and It is a lo-def experience in just about every way. Yet you subscribe to the Rolls Royce of satellite (DirecTV, leading the charge in all HD content) and the so-called Mac of DVRs (TiVo). Albeit an old PowerBook Mac. This is the way you choose to enjoy your entertainment, which is fine. So, you get a 1.5 out of 3 possible points.

    I look forward to the day when I can come over to your newly and expensively remodeled house to watch the A’s play on a 50″ screen in living HD. It will come, but maybe only when there is no other option (I think they finally phased out the black and white TV 20 years ago.)

    What’s wrong with the Hulu? That is technology that will set the world on fire!

    It’s all about parsing content down to the smallest degree. When we can watch every movie and TV show on our computers and iPhones, then the world will cease to have a function.

  9. soozann says:

    At this point, after dealing with all the ID10t’s available at Charter Cable Company for the last month, I am ready to crawl on my roof and plant an antenna! They take Customer NO Service a whole new level! Grrrrrrrrrr….!

  10. misty shaw-kennyandmisty@moviefan.com says:

    Recently we decided to DITCH THE DISH and get charter cable.(what was I thinken) I guess I was sucked in by all the hipe on how good charter is “NOT”.The day the install tech. came to our home was the start of a long list of aggravation.For starters I was supposed to have five t.v’s hooked up well only one got hooked up then, I had to make four other appointments with this incompitant company not to mention haveing to take time off of work to be home only to get angry because they did’nt have the courtesy to pick up the phone to inform me that the appointment had been cancelled for unknown reasons.It’s like charter is a daycare company full of over grown children who sit around on the phone telling people a bunch of crap and they don’t even know what there talking about.I was talking to a “customer support person” and I asked her what was her supervisors name, and no kidding but she said that she did not know….how can you not know your bosses name.Well finally I got in touch with the install technicians supervisor to vent out my fustrations he appologised “naturally” and gave me his word that the tech. would be at my house the next day by one o’clock. Do you readers really think that the tech showed up? #*!! no he did’nt, so after several more verbally intence calls they sent three techs.out that same day.It’s a shame to have a company that serves the public with no service.I would never recamend charter to anyone.

  11. Anonymous says:

    get a life for crying out loud!!!!!!!!

  12. Anonymous says:

    is it possible they outsourced jobs to prison inmates in India???

  13. James says:

    Hey Ya’ll,
    Ive had many of the same problems with Charter for over the past three months with my cable service in South East Alabama. Ive had Tech’s show up here and not know what they were doing. I ended up fixing the problem myself and the Tech ask me how i did it. As of today we have been on the phone complaining to this company’s Corp people on the problems in our area. It has gotten very old and we now find out a NEW company is coming to town with better cable, and we have told Charter this and said when they do were gone. Sat service is also here and many have been switching to it all over town. Its sad to say People that i know work for this company cant do a job because they dont care. Not just the Tech folks but management above them. Get It Together Charter Or Your Going into the Toilet.

  14. Henrietta says:

    I think Charter Cable In the Birmingham Al area should be sued for elderly abuse and I am one that would be #1 in line. My experience with Charter Cable Service is a horror story. I have been billed $199.00 for a month of service plus charges for the extra wiring which is incomplete. I have damages to my home done by their service tech ??. M agreement with Charter I would call them as soon as my move was complete for transfer of services. The biggest joke of all is there is no cable service at the home as of 11/2/08 and my billing date began Oct. 22, 2008 and shows as new service. I have been with Charter for several years but that is fixing to end. As of this writing and after sitting in an empty house after dark waiting for their service tech to arrive and didn’t as I was told he would I have really HAD IT.

  15. Rick Rossi says:

    I contacted them to bundle all three. $107.00 per month is what I was quoted. The first bill came in the mail for $333.00 +. I called them to complain, they advised that they alway bill 2.5 months in advance. I cancelled phone and internet and went back to Verizon. I then called them to advise and asked what kind of a plan they had for Tv. The young man on the other end told me, just exactly what you have. I said great, cancel my tv cable also! This company is a joke. It has been my experience that when a fish stinks, it stinks from the head down. Their upper management really needs work. I really wanted to ask their upper division people, “When was “service” removed from customer service? I also tried TV on PC….don’t waste your time, mostly religious and very little local news, weather, etc.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if their profits tanked and they too wanted to be bailed out by the Feds.

  16. sponge bob says:

    Dude on the top. Get a life

  17. Kevin says:

    Recently switched to charter for internet,and when i asked the guy how i get my router to work for my laptop,he told me they didnt do that,then when the charter phone guy came,he did it for me,although he did put a large hole in wall to put in the box for the phone serivce,i also must say that charters internt is overated!

  18. Cablefan says:

    Personally I have been pleased with Charter. I have the bundle and my service is up 99.99 percent of the time. I pay 111.00 for 5 meg internet, unlimited phone and over 300 cable channels. I could care less about DVR at this point in my life I have kids and never spend time watching TV anyway. What is important to me is Internet. I work from home at times and this has to be 24/7. It is extreamly rare 1 hour a year that any of these services are down.

  19. Are they not breaking the law by calling you when you are on the “do not call list” ? hmm.. These companies are presistant, just at the wrong times. They should move their telemarketing efforts over to customer support, they have it all wrong.

  20. Velvet says:

    Charter cable just goes out almost every holiday now. Third holiday in a row….no cable for Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year….It’s like someone went to sleep and shut off the switch for 24 hours. When you call..they have a service problem in that area, but someone is working on it…NOT! They are at home enjoying cable with their families for the holiday..while I am stuck (no stores open to even buy DVD) til they get around to it in a day or two


  1. […] As some you might know, we are sadly (and temporarily) separated from our DirecTV (and TiVo). We had planned to use this separation as a chance to revisit cable, see what was new, and, maybe re-evaluate our television viewing options. Cable failed on every possible level. […]

  2. […] urban lifestyle is not for me. Outrageously high rent, bad plumbing, noisy neighbors, and the worst cable company in the world aren’t exactly my idea of a quality […]

  3. […] with minimal commercial interruption on Hulu. Which is strange, because I’ve actually reached a point in my lifea where I might consider buying episodes of The Office through […]

  4. […] as we all know, the service and commensurate consumer satisfaction levels for cable companies is horrific. Any other industry […]

  5. […] of years, we’ve discussed the absolute lameness of their HD-DVR, how their regular DVR drove Kirk & Kassia away from TV completely, as well as the amazing difficulty their customers have getting their technicians to show up for […]

  6. […] brief stint with Charter Cable reminded me of what truly bad customer service is like. Never mind the torture device that Charter […]