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IamA Former TWC Tier 3 employee, and I know a surprising amount about the company and what to do when you have an issue with your ISP. AMA!

Jun 11th 2014 by Holovoid • 47 Questions • 670 Points

I worked for Time Warner Cable as a Tier 3 tech support/CSR rep for about 2 years. Although I left the company, I loved my job and I knew a surprising amount about different situations and problems customers could have. After all, my job was to be the smartest and best person a customer could speak with to get complex problems solved. I made a post in a semi-related thread and got a decent amount of attention and a request to do an AMA, so here I am. Ask away.

My Proof: Here is a PDF of my bill showing employee priced internet and cable boxes. ($24.00/month for 30/5 internet and every single channel including premiums and foreign language was probably the best part about working for TWC.)

Edit: 1:21 PM EST, I'm taking a break for lunch, and I'll try to answer more questions in an hour or two.

Edit 2: 3:20 PM EST, gonna be signing off for today. I answered a lot more questions than I thought. I still may touch on a few extra questions later tonight here and there when I can. Thanks everybody, this was extremely fun.

Q:

Former TWC Tier 3 myself. I see you worked in Ohio (Mid or NEO?). I don't know about you but 80-90% of my calls were phone issues. I actually REALLY looked forward to doing actual PC troubleshooting and not helping Mildred figure out where to plug a phone in.

A:

lol, yeah, I worked in MOH. I hated phone issues too, because it was usually people who didn't know what a phone jack was.

One thing I wished they trained the outsourced people how to troubleshoot.


Q:

Former (American) outsourced tech support here. We knew how to troubleshoot, we just weren't allowed to take our time to do it. I was given 12.5 minutes per call, after which, I was told to do whatever I could to end the call, including transferring. 1.5 minutes spent on opening script cut this down to 11, which most people couldn't even reseat their cables within.

A:

Oh trust me, I know the pain of being an outsourced tech support for an ISP. Worked for FiOS as one. Suffering beyond belief.

I was more talking about the Tier 2 people for TWC, they were based in the Philippines and actually sometimes really good, but they weren't trained on troubleshooting phone, so we got first touch phone customers most of the time.


Q:

What did you hate about TWC? What did you like about them?

A:

Honestly I disliked the planned merger with Comcast (which was being talked about back in October/November), along with the whole Net Neutrality situation. That is really one of the only things I disliked, because aside from that it was a great company to work for and my division particularly cared about customers and treating employees well.


Q:

This is funny because my mom works for Comcast tier 2 support and she loves the shit out of her job.

Seems like both companies treat employees pretty well.

A:

I can definitely speak on behalf of TWC...they do take care of us. Great pay, great benefits packages, and (almost) free cable service.


Q:

My cousin's internet goes out EVERY night at 8:30, sometimes 8:25, sometimes 8:35. His ISP says something about nightly resets. This seems like the worst possible time to be doing stuff like this. My question is, are they bull-shitting him? Is this a normal problem to be having? Note: it's nothing to do with anti-virus or anything on my cousin's computer, as it happens on multiple computers, including one I just gave him.

A:

It depends on where the resets originate. If you can log into the modem you can see if the modem is doing nightly resets in the log, in which case you'd want to replace it. If you're getting T3/T4 timeouts in the log you'd want to call the ISP and yell at them, because those are easy to detect and not part of nightly maintenance.

There's no reason that I can think of to do nightly maintenance for more than a couple days or a week or so.


Q:

How does one go about logging into the modem? My TWC internet craps out at 10PM every night.

A:

Depends on what modem you have, 192.168.(0 or 1).1 works for the modem/router combos, but most of them have a login IP written on them on the sticker. You might have to call and ask for the login IP and password as well. Motorolas are 192.168.0.1 - admin/motorola as default.


Q:

Favorite bizarre caller? My friend works for TWC and got a call from someone saying "Someone ordered $400 worth of porn on my account. I think my house is haunted."

A:

I'll get back on this one if I can think of something I haven't posted to /r/talesfromtechsupport , because its gonna take a while to type up and I don't want to neglect other questions. For now, enjoy the below stories from my time at TWC:

http://www.reddit.com/r/talesfromtechsupport/comments/1phcjs/why_am_i_not_getting_my_speeds/

http://www.reddit.com/r/talesfromtechsupport/comments/1kcm5a/the_tale_of_the_unidentified_twins_or_the_most/


Q:

I have Time Warner Cable Road Runner only.

I got a great deal for 1 year subscription price. After the year is up I go to the normal standard price. My 1 year price is almost up, is there anyway I can still continue to get the price?

A:

Probably not exactly, but if you call into Retention, they can give you something pretty similar. For example, most of the time Standard is $34.95/month or around there, then goes up to $54.95 without the campaign (discount) code. If you talk to Retention and tell them you are thinking about switching when your price goes up, they might be able to get you a campaign for like $39.99 or something along those lines.

Numbers might be different, I worked there about 6 months ago and I'm just pulling from memory, plus prices go up every now and again.


Q:

How does a current customer get new customer pricing ?

A:

Other than cancelling and calling back to start new service, not really.

You can get reduced pricing (which sometimes is cheaper than new customer pricing, it depends on time of year and region) by calling and speaking to the Retention team. They basically have retention codes (we call bundle codes 'campaigns') that have lower pricing than "retail value" or rate card price.

Example: You sign up for a 12-month bundle price of 79.99 and after the 12 months it goes up to 120.95, or whatever. Usually retention will have something like 99.99 or whatever, depending on fluctuating market prices. The key is to call whenever your pricing plan is up so you're not paying retail price, because retail pricing is absurd.


Q:

Why have I been locked in a 3 month battle with TWC trying to get them to actually implement the price the retention agent gave me? I have cleared an escalation ticket, talked to about 6 CSRs and each time they assure me my account has been set up properly, yet each month my bill never reflects the price I was quoted. I have a case number, employee numbers and names, and 5 pages of notes in my account, yet this never gets resolved. WTF?

A:

Man, I wish I still worked there so I could fix it. What state do you live in?


Q:

Fuck Bundles. Fuck the word, "Bundles". Fuck everything about Bundles. Nobody wants them. Nobody needs them. Oh, an AMA...well...how are you doing today OP?

A:

Yeah man...bundling is something I dislike but I realize they have to incentivize carrying multiple services as much as possible.

I'm doing good, got an interview for a new company locked down for tomorrow. Starting to get swamped by all this red inbox. How about you?


Q:

Bundling can make sense for some customers. If I'm paying $50/month for tv, $50/month for internet, and $30/month for a phone all through different companies, but I can bundle with one company, get a discount for having all 3 services, deal with 1 bill instead of three, and pay less, why wouldn't I?

A:

Exactly. This is where bundling is good. But using it to excuse yourself from charging absurd rates for single-line service is bad business, IMO.


Q:

Spill it. How do people avoid having to speak with you? After all, if you have to fix the most complex problems, surely there are steps customers (even if it's an employee's fault) can take to avoid that happening.

A:

Well, for the most part if you're fairly tech savvy, do all the in-home troubleshooting yourself. It very much depends on what your issue is. Reseat all your cabling, reboot/factory reset and reconfigure all your equipment and possibly even check your modem settings.

Most of the time that clears up 60-75% of all inbound customer calls. The more complex stuff is like detecting EMF interference affecting wifi, replacing coax wiring in home, or outside work that needs to be done by a tech.

There's so many things that can go wrong with this technology its really hard to give one clear cut answer, lol.


Q:

Out of curiosity, how does one detect EMF interference affecting wifi over the telephone?

A:

There's a specialized tool that can detect it, to my knowledge, but that's customer premise issues, because if your power outlets or inside wiring are affecting your wifi or internal coax (which can happen from time to time), then its your problem, not TWC's.


Q:

How do you go about talking to a retention department? It seems awkward to just call the help number and just ask for retention.

A:

Nah, no way. Call into customer service, let them know you're thinking about switching providers and ask to talk to retention. They'll take care of you (unless they're an idiot).


Q:

I'm always afraid they'll call my bluff since the only "competition" in my area is shitty copper wire DSL at half the speed for the same price.

A:

This is just the Midwest region that I worked, but the retention reps were almost all exclusively in Wisconsin, so they almost never knew who your local competition were.


Q:

Is there any way for me to talk my way into an upgrade in my internet package without paying more?

A:

Sometimes.

Depending on what speed you have, sometimes they have Standard > Turbo upgrades for $0, or Standard > Extreme for $10.

Call and see if they have something like that going. Most of the time its Turbo for $10, Extreme for $20, and Ultimate for $30 (normal price is $20/30/50 respectively.)


Q:

How much actual access / Docsis knowledge does a T3 have there? I work as an network engineer for a different cable company, but for a while was living in a time warner area and had what I could diagnose as a misconfigured fiber-node on the CMTS (D3 modem would only come w-online about 2/3 of the time, it would sometimes grab a different frequency that I could only assume was not part of the MD-DS-SG and would not bond)

I could not ever get a hold of someone who knew a damn about how anything actually worked on the backend, luckally I moved into my service area and it is no longer an issue.

A:

Honestly most of our T3 techs had a pretty decent grasp on docsis, and our access went pretty far, but anything we couldn't do we could escalate tickets up to a NOC guy to do for us.

Speaking for myself, I had pretty moderate knowledge. I would say if you could diagnose a misconfigured node on the CMTS, any tier 3 rep could see the same thing and have NOC fix it.

More than likely you probably never spoke with an actual Tier 3 rep, or you got really unlucky and talked to one of the few idiots that slipped in.


Q:

Absolutely

A:

Yes and no. Yes because they can absolutely increase speeds without too much work.

That being said, they did that at a decent loss to their bottom line, as an effort to retain customers in an area with an insanely strong new competitor emerging. So also no, because without the competition from other providers, the whole industry stagnates (which is what is happening now.)


Q:

What's your take on the current situation with ISPs and net neutrality/netflix?

A:

Well first and foremost, data streams should not be treated differently based on where the data originates or is destined to go. This opens up a big bad can of worms in terms of small start-ups and will absolutely demolish free market competition (such as it is in this company). Time Warner Cable, as a business, treats data as a commodity (which is okay for now), but eventually they need to change the idea that bandwidth is precious into something more fruitful for our economy and consumer base, because right now the current methodology is hurting consumers in the long run.


Q:

Is there any sense of urgency or panic in upper management ? Do they feel like they are winning or losing the war

A:

Well I would occasionally see Midwest region execs and most of them were pretty cool. They generally felt that we provided a good service to the majority of our consumers (which, for the most part, we do). The ones in charge of my division (Tier 3) always pushed us to take care of customers to the ends of the earth. I didn't have a ton of interaction with the high-level management like former CEO Glenn Britt/etc, outside of maybe a walkthrough of my building. I worked in the Midwest HQ, not the overall company HQ.

I can say that they are very concerned about losing customers and losing the war on cable, which is why TWC is pushing On Demand so much.


Q:

What kind of qualifications do you have? I recently graduated high school, but I'm not sure where I want to go, but I've always found advanced networking very fascinating. What does it take to get a job like that?

A:

Honestly, I have a high school diploma and that's pretty much it. Before going to TWC I worked for an outsourced call center taking calls for Verizon FiOS and was a supervisor there. Totaled about 4 years before moving to TWC.

I would say find a call center locally, get some experience with that (especially if its tech support), keep learning stuff on your own, maybe take A+/Network+ certs. Then apply to TWC. You'll probably get hired on the spot.


Q:

It seems like any program that downloads throttles at 2mb/s is there any reason to go higher than that? Even in gaming? Also my buddy has top notch high speed internet and I have the one right above basic, we have the same modem provided, what's up with that? And should you just buy your own to avoid the rental fee?

A:

I definitely recommend buying your own because its generally gonna be a used modem that's been through hell and back you're renting.

As for the download speeds, if you're running speedtests and getting bad results direct through the modem, and/or seeing dropped packets or bad packet latency, call into customer service and ask to talk to Tier 3...should be able to get it fixed.


Q:

Source?

A:

Obviously speedtest.net to a nearby server is the first place to go.

Then run tracert and ping tests to some websites you frequent to see if you notice latency or traffic problems. There are also other steps but 90% of speed issues were detected with these two.


Q:

How can you get yourself off of a shared network when you're in, for example, an apartment building? There have been at least a few places I've lived where I never got anywhere close to the speeds I paid for and suffered from slow speeds at peak hours.

Also, how can you make sure you're getting the bandwidth you pay for? It's common for me to run a speed test and see that I'm not reaching anywhere close to the speeds my plan is set for.

A:

As for the shared network...you pretty much can't, unfortunately, because it means laying new infrastructure. However, if you're not getting your speeds consistently direct through the modem, call in and ask to talk to Tier 3. They should be able to get you taken care of. Its just a matter of finding out whether its a physical issue or a back-end issue.


Q:

Did you enjoy your work? What were your bosses like, and what goals did they push you to achieve?

A:

I loved my job. Unfortunately I had to leave because my attendance got fucked over due to my car getting repo'd and by the time I got a new one I was pretty much screwed.

My supervisor was awesome, he hand-picked me for the Insight acquisition project. He was a pretty cool guy. The other supervisors were all helpful and knowledgeable and very hands on.

As for goals, I pretty much never needed pushing because I scored a 3.75/4 on my scorecard every month. They pushed for Customer Satisfaction scores, lowering Customer Repeat Rate, and Sales when we could get them. But most of the focus was CSat and CRR.


Q:

Wow, that's straight out of the Bicycle Thieves. Only a sweet cushy job at risk. My condolances, that must have not been fun.

A:

Yeah it really sucked. Ran into some financial issues and my loan company refused to work with me anymore on my car loan. I probably could have played it better, but...you live and learn I guess. Hopefully in a year or so I can go back to TWC and get my job back. My supervisor loved me, so I can hope that they rehire me (although I was told it was extremely rare to rehire someone who had attendance issues).


Q:

How can you praise the place if they remove all logic from staffing?

You had a personal issue that effected your attendance, but it wasn't permanent. There seems to be no reason to even have fired you if you had already taken care of the issue.

A:

I ended up resigning to avoid termination, because one slip-up in the future would have ended up with me getting fired. Their attendance policies are harsh, yes, but that's because Call Centers are notorious for their turnover rate.


Q:

that's because Call Centers are notorious for their turnover rate.

That seems to be a reason not to have a policy that makes you have to resign.

A:

This is true but if they did that a lot of people would abuse the system, leading to high truancy rates, which means customers suffer longer queue times, meaning more customers ditch the company, which means lower profit margins, which results in cutting jobs, etc etc etc.

Its a shit system but its the best system for this type of job.


Q:

What color toothbrush do you use?

A:

Blue with a green grip and white/blue/green bristles. Reddit asking the important questions. :)


Q:

Did you have to go look?

A:

Nope, I bought it a couple weeks ago.


Q:

Why does TWC keep raising its prices for the same service?

A:

Multiple reasons, that I will try my best to explain my opinion on.

First, you have the increase of prices coming from places like NBC, CBS, FOX, etc to distribute their content. These companies often will negotiate higher prices for their content, or TWC will lose them (for example, the CBS debacle that happened last year.) While these price increases are not necessarily extreme, TWC has about 100 different channel providers they are constantly at war with regarding contract pricing. This means that whenever a producer wins a contract negotiation, other producers will try to do the same.

Secondly, TWC is always expanding infrastructure and moving into new markets, or attempting to push new value into current markets. This doesn't necessarily create the need to increase prices, but coupled with the first point it means that ultimately their revenue stream is diminished nonetheless, which means annual/biannual price increases helps recoup this loss.

Finally, the value of the dollar also impacts, although to a much lesser extent. Dollars are frankly worth less than they were a year ago, despite the fact that wages don't go up to match. This happens with every commodity, and is less a TWC problem and more on par with the government.

These are just some of my opinions on why the prices increase, and I don't necessarily justify some of their price increases.


Q:

I think the main thing is all these sports channels which are mandatory that the cable companies get black balled into providing. Each one adds like 1.80 a month. Doesn't seem like much but when there are 10 a year coming out. Adds up fast. For example why does someone in Wash. state care if they get the SEC network?

A:

Basically. Fuck ESPN 1-7.

The Ocho is good though.


Q:

If you're unable to resolve an issue where does it go? Are you able to directly escalate with local engineers or the plant or do you escalate it up to a manager that does that?

A:

Yep. We sent tickets to the GNOC or engineers if we couldn't fix something and it wasn't able to be fixed by on-site techs. Usually we would create the ticket and monitor it and when the plant engineer or GNOC sent it back we would call the customer back to test resolution.


Q:

I have a problem where I will drop connection at home for random periods of time. Technicians have been out a good 8 or so times over the last year and all our connections and wiring are good, modem is fine, etc. Yet when I call into tech support they claim to not see an issue and the whole 'well, let's schedule a tech' circle jerk continues. This last time I went into my modem's log and saw several DHCP errors relating to not receiving information from TW's servers. I tried explaining this to a service rep but she completely ignored it and proceeded with the scheduling of yet another technician. How in the ever loving fuck do I get this fixed?

A:

Ask to talk to Tier 3, because you're probably talking to T2. Also, if 3 techs come out in a 30-day period, a ticket is escalated to Tech Ops/corporate and they will usually be able to fix the issue in a very timely manner.


Q:

How do I actually get the speed I pay for? I pay for 15/1 and consistently get 7/1 every day/evening/night. Is there anything I can do or am I hosed because all advertising says "up to"? I test my speeds multiple days at different times and never get above 8 down.

A:

If you're getting 50% consistently through the modem, the best thing I can say is call and ask to speak with Tier 3. They should be able to isolate where the problem is and remedy it.


Q:

Thanks for the response. I'm using my own router and wireless modem so i'm assuming I'm out of luck when it comes to Tier 3 help.

A:

Not necessarily, but usually they want to have their own equipment to test that way they can confirm its not an equipment issue they can't touch. Still doesn't hurt to call.


Q:

Is there any chance of an al a carte program ever coming out for tv? I'd like to just pay for the stuff I watch, not all the filler.

A:

It'll be even more expensive. Also, a lot of channels will go out of business if this ever happens.


Q:

why the hell did it take almost 2 months for TWC to figure out they needed to enable VPN for my network when I Called everyweek saying that is what I needed?

A:

Someone dropped the fuckin ball. I assume you're a biz customer?

With residential at least we pretty much stayed hands-off for people wanting anything to do with a VPN, because for the most part its nothing that we handle. I knew enough about VPN support to get it working for most people, but that's something outside the regular use for residential support.


Q:

This has been an issue ongoing for 6 months. My Internet speeds go from 20mbps to less than .56kbps over and over. It's like those car commercials where the teen is learning to drive and she keeps slamming on the brakes every single time the car moves an inch. I've had techs come out and they keep saying there's no problem because I reach my promised speed but what good is it if they keep placing the fucking brakes on it? I can't even load gifs :( maintenance has come out here and they did nothing...

A:

What state do you live in, and what type of area do you live in (suburban, urban, rural)? What type of equipment do you have in the home?


Q:

Whats the situation on gigabit fiber? I have an orange fiber line hooked up outside my house and its been sitting there for 8 years now, collecting dust.

A:

Honestly, not sure. I know the fiber is the backbone of most of our structure up to the CMTS and hubs, but honestly FTTP (fiber to the premises) is pretty much a long way off for most cable companies because coax is cheaper and effective enough for them to use up to 100+mbps.


Q:

Why haven't TWC and dish network made a deal yet to show Laker games on dish?!

A:

No idea, honestly. Probably the Lakers are too rich for Dish's blood.


Q:

Any insight on how TWC's IPv6 rollout is going?

I just signed up as a new customer a few weeks ago and was a bit shocked to see I had full IPv6 connectivity. Problem was, it was terrible. Getting around IPv4 was no problem, but resolving to any IPv6 address was like a 50/50 shot. Kinda a pain when Google's trying to route me over IPv6.

When I called about it, it looks like they just reset my modem (as expected) and then disabled IPv6 all together. Don't get me wrong here, I'm glad I can get to Google and whatnot reliably now, but is just disabling IPv6 really how this kind of thing gets "fixed?"

It's kinda a shame really.

A:

IPv6 compatibility was still in the testing phase when I was there. I know the ability exists for v6 capability, but I have no idea when they're going to fully implement full compatibility. Hopefully soon.


Q:

I was Tier 2! Stream from Canada.

Were you with the Road Runner TWC?

A:

TWC Mid-Ohio in the US. Yeah we were RR.


Q:

Does TWC purposely make Tivos fail to get customers to buy TWC set top boxes?

A:

Not to my knowledge, but I know they'd rather have you get a box because it was easier for us to support, lol.


Q:

Someone posted here if we get out own modem and router we will see improved internet performance true or false?

2nd part, what modem do you recommend that is compatible with TWC?

A:

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. A lot of times the modems we provide are used and can sometimes be beat to hell. So in a lot of cases, buying one is the best option. However, I've seen a lot of new bought modems that don't work well on our network. Almost a coin flip, tbh.

I personally liked the Motorola SB6141 or the new Motorola AC band modem/router combo. Can't remember what the model number was off the top of my head.


Q:

When is Maxx going to roll out to the rest of the country? I want more than 5 up damn it.

A:

Honestly, I've never heard of Maxx. Might have been something that was in a different region or wasn't put into my region until later. At the moment, the highest upload speeds available are 5 for most regions to my knowledge.