Triangle Troubleshooter

Troubleshooter: One word gets caller nowhere

Staff WriterNovember 17, 2010 

Like many people, Brenda Holleman of Raleigh wanted to save a few bucks in her family budget.

So she tried to cancel two premium movie channels from her Time Warner Cable lineup, which would save her $23 a month.

She called the cable company's main number, 866-489-2669, where a computerized voice asked her to say what she was calling about.

"You can say things like 'upgrade my account,'" the voice says.

Holleman said "downgrade." The phone rang then abruptly hung up.

So Holleman tried again. For 10 days. Eventually, she just said "upgrade," which routed her to a live person, she said. But the operator transferred Holleman to the downgrade department, and the phone cut off again and again, she said.

Holleman called the Triangle Troubleshooter to find out whether this is just a glitch or a Time Warner Cable conspiracy.

"I bet when this happens to people, they just give up and say it's not worth the money they would save," she speculated.

I, too, called the number and said, "Downgrade." Sure enough, I was cut off.

Keith Poston, a spokesman for Time Warner Cable, had not heard of this issue, but he assured me this was not part of the company's business plan.

"It's obviously a glitch," he said. "That wouldn't be one of our strategies."

Time Warner employs "retention specialists" who do everything they can do to keep your business, Poston said.

Since I called Poston about two weeks ago, the customer care and telecommunications departments have been working to address the problem, he said. But they have not been able to fix it.

That's because the glitch is intermittent. Poston said he tried calling from his house Monday night and didn't get through three times, but on the fourth he did.

"We expect to get to the bottom of it," Poston said, adding that he'll let me know when they do.

If you experience the problem when you call to downgrade, you can just say "operator" to get to an operator. You also can communicate with the cable company online at www.timewarnercable.com. Click on "Contact Us."

As for Holleman, she finally got through to an operator, who she said kept her on the line for 30 minutes, trying to persuade her to keep the channels. Holleman kept her resolve and said no until the channels were canceled, she said.

The final challenge tally

Here is the final tally from the Triangle Troubleshooter Thanksgiving Challenge, where I challenged readers to raise 100 turkeys for Helping Hand Mission; $500 for Raleigh Rescue Mission and $500 for World Overcomers Christian Church, which will serve Thanksgiving dinners to families in need.

Helping Hand Mission raised 109 turkeys! On Monday, I delivered an additional 20 turkeys because Harris Teeter matched my donation of 10 birds.

Raleigh Rescue Mission received $4,758 in cash, plus lots of food. N&O Publisher Orage Quarles III's $250 check was dropped off Monday.

World Overcomers Christian Church has a room and loading dock full of food. N&O Executive Editor John Drescher's $250 check is in the mail.

And the donations keep coming in!

Dave Spencer donated $250 to Helping Hand Mission, and his employer, Eaton, matched it. Robert and Patti Saleeby donated a turkey to Helping Hand, and Brownie Troop 13053 of Chapel Hill collected canned foods for World Overcomers.

The Triangle Curling Club passed the hat at a game and collected $192, which was donated to the Raleigh Rescue Mission.

The Capital Investment Companies recently held a golf tournament and raffle, which raised $1,478 for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. The company then added $1,000 for a total of $2,478, which will provide nearly 10,000 meals for families in need.

In addition to the 10 turkeys Harris Teeter donated to Helping Hand, the store gave 1,000 Thanksgiving dinners to the Food Bank.

And the challenge continues!

Becky Levine, a Helping Hand volunteer, says she will give $500 if $1,000 is raised for the organization by the end of the week..

And Greg Hatem, owner of Empire Eats, says if other restaurant owners give 10 turkeys to Helping Hand, he will donate $250.

Donate online at www.helping handmission.org/ donations . And let me know if you do.

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