Category Archives: incompetence

Citibank Sucks.

I’ve got a credit line with Citibank that has an introductory period that’s expiring right now in December. I can’t seem to get a straight answer from these buffoons.

I’ve now asked them 4 different times what my new monthly minimum payment will be once the intro period is over and the regular APRs kick in. Should be a simple-enough question, right?

The latest I got from them was this:

The calculation begins with any amount that is past due plus any amount in excess of your credit line. Then the greater of the following is also added:
– The new statement balance if it is less than $20; or
– $20 of the new balance if it is at least $20; or
– 1% of the new balance plus the amount of billed finance charges plus any applicable late fees or
– 1% of the new balance plus the amount of billed finance charges or
– 1.5% of the new outstanding balance, rounded down to the nearest dollar.

Gee, Citibank. Really? That is your answer?

After practically begging you for an actual ‘ballpark-is-fine’ dollar amount, you sent…THAT? What am I supposed to do with that? More specifically, why should I have to do anything with that?

I really do think it’s time to take my money and business elsewhere. I can’t imagine what their motivation even is for not answering what has to be a common question among their customers who sign up for intro-period agreements. It strikes me as unethical in some way; I can’t quite put my finger on it. At the very least, it’s not helpful, and certainly feels dishonest and slimy to me…which is more than enough to get me to walk away from them as a customer. I don’t need this kind of hassle, and transferring my account away from them isn’t even remotely difficult to do.

Citibank, being the mega-corporation that it is, will learn nothing from this, despite my repeated attempts to ‘enlighten’ them about my dissatisfaction with their customer service, with each support email I send. What’s one customer, eh, Citibank? Bzzzzzzzzzt.

Cable Modem Reboots Log (through 05 June 2007)

(the following post was password-protected for Time-Warner’s own consumption and viewing until Feb 20, 2008. -Alex)

The following log is NOT inclusive of all cable modem reboots that have occurred, due to being out of town/away from machines, etc.; there is also at least one full week of log data missing, and many other reboots were simple not caught due to the cablemodem log scrolling log entries away due to so many reboots and errors.

As of 05 June–not counting any missed days or missed reboots–the average number of reboots since 12 March 2007 is 4.3 per day.

That’s averaged over the last three months. Does Time-Warner consider this acceptable? We don’t.

In fact, the only reason it’s not averaging higher is because we’ve been adjusting our usage due to knowing we’re going to have trouble anytime we try to use it.

The logging is a huge pain in the butt to do. It’s time-consuming. It reminds us daily of the problem that TW doesn’t seem to care about. I hate doing it. But the logging must continue, until this is finally resolved.

DATE             TIME   NOTES 

12-Mar-2007       1437
                  1443
                  1448
                  1452
                  1454
                  1456
                  1503
                  1512  reset by me
                  1521
                  1523
                  1525
                  1528
                  1533
                  1536
                  1538
                  1551  1 min into start of a 300MB file download,
                        adding a second 100MB download from same host
                  1559
                  1643
                  1644
                  2226  was away not using machine
13-Mar-2007       0159  actively using machine
                  0205
                  0209
                  0212
                  0238
                  0309
                  0351
                  0439
                  0503
                  0526
                  0603
                  0649
                  0743
                  0836
                  0850
                  1028  break/errands
                  1244
                  1617
                  1743
                  1858
                  1953
                  2104
20-Mar-2007       1548
                  1625
                  1702
                  1932
                  2347
21-Mar-2007       1326  did not log for the week prior
                  1752
                  1953
                  2008
                  2015  rest of 21 mar not noted; there were more but log had scrolled
22-Mar-2007       1216
                  1436
23-Mar-2007       0119
                  0125
                  0208
                  0245
                  1157
                  1219
                  1328
                  1342
                  1646
                  2026
                  2222
25-Mar-2007       1009  not home previous day; log had already scrolled
                  1358
                  1404
                  1408
                  1427
                  1511
30-Mar-2007       1919  did not note log data for days prior; log had already scrolled
31-Mar-2007       0035
                  0207
                  0709
                  0953
                  1010
                  1146
1-Apr-2007        0712
                  1130
                  1440
                  1504
                  1538
                  1541
                  2025
                  2036
                  2051
                  2054
                  2101
                  2128
2-Apr-2007        0933  rest of 01 apr entries had already scrolled
                  0937
                  1335
                  1803
                  1930
                  1932
                  1943
                  1950
                  1956
                  2012
                  2029
                  2048
                  2056
                  2108
                  2116
                  2136
                  2138
                  2144
                  2233
3-Apr-2007        0906
                  0946
                  1016
                  1055
                  1153
                  1224
                  1314
                  1420
                  1431
                  1506
                  1509
                  1514
                  1518
                  1521
                  1534
                  1536
                  1627
                  1636
                  1650
                  1701
                  1725
                  1746
                  1815
                  1832
                  1840
                  1847
                  1856
                  1937
4-Apr-2007        1249  missed quite a few prior to this one due to log scroll
                  1339
                  1354
                  1557
                  1653
                  1726
                  1750
                  1821
                  1841
                  2016
5-Apr-2007        0314
                  0429
                  1433
                  1507
                  1605
                  1635
                  1729
                  1750
                  2028
                  2058
6-Apr-2007        0729
                  0733
                  0739
                  0744
                  0955
                  1006
                  1009
                  1317
9-Apr-2007        2057  out of town/not using network until 5 mins
                        before this particular outage
                  2112
                  2114
                  2116
                  2124
10-Apr-2007       0111
                  1826
                  1831
11-Apr-2007       0212
                  0854  entries since 0212 lost due to no-fec-lock
                        errors scrolling log
                  0907
                  0918
                  1025
                  1302
12-Apr-2007       0031
                  0931
                  1034
                  1036
                  1209
                  1239
                  1315
                  1318
                  1323
                  1334
                  1342
                  1348
                  1350
                  1503
                  1540
13-Apr-2007       0733
                  0857
                  0921
                  1527  (several prior to this one scrolled away…)
                  1559
                  1603
                  1617
                  1641
                  1706
                  1725
                  1747
                  2052
                  2105
14-Apr-2007       0932
                  0937
15-Apr-2007       1614  (several prior to this one scrolled away…)
                  1703
                  1855
                  1858
                  1912
                  1932
                  1947
                  2029
                  2124
                  2130
16-Apr-2007       1129
                  1201
                  1302  reboot by me; router reset alone failed (again)
                  1326  completely down despite all efforts since
                        who-knows-when; CM not responding in any browser
                        from any machine.
                  1417  turns out, in this current instance, that the router
                        was suffering from constant-disconnect/reconnect
                        disease…needed full hard reset (wiping all settings)
                        to recover. Damn you, Roadrunner/Time-Warner. DAMN you!
                  1436
17-Apr-2007       1055
                  1100
                  1108
                  1148
                  1208
                  1225
                  1317
                  1318
                  1330
                  1430
                  1443
                  1520  missed a few prior to this one due to log scroll
                  1540
                  1554
                  1606
                  1616
                  1618
                  1621
                  1632
                  1636
                  1641
18-Apr-2007       0012
                  1038
                  1435
                  1446
                  1806
                  1812
                  2012
                  2020
                  2024
19-Apr-2007       0030
20-Apr-2007       1925
                  2219
21-Apr-2007       1021
                  1525
                  1703
                  2153
22-Apr-2007       1131
                  1255
                  1605
                  1720
23-Apr-2007       1828
                  2225
                  2250
                  2347
24-Apr-2007       0051
                  0110
                  0143
                  0212
                  0212  (yes, twice inside a minute!)
25-Apr-2007       1406
                  2134
26-Apr-2007       2005
27-Apr-2007       1404
                  1416
                  2012
28-Apr-2007       2015  (some prior to this were missed due to log scroll)
                  2117
                  2126
                  2139
                  2144
                  2157
                  2333
                  2354
29-Apr-2007       0015
                  0130
                  0457
                  0523
                  0531
                  0712
                  0808
                  0822
                  0927
                  0938
                  1205
                  1206  (yes, twice inside a minute!)
30-Apr-2007       0833
                  0848
1-May-2007        0719
2-May-2007              (none this day; network not really been used/haven't been home or
                        working last couple days)
3-May-2007        1940
4-May-2007        0235  (started World of Warcraft update download, and boom,
                        connection died, as has been typical)
                  0338  (some prior to this were likely missed due to log scroll)
                  0817  uploading pictures to webhost most of the day this day
                  1049  uploading pictures to webhost most of the day this day
                  1135  uploading pictures to webhost most of the day this day
                  1147  uploading pictures to webhost most of the day this day
                  1206  uploading pictures to webhost most of the day this day
                  1413  uploading pictures to webhost most of the day this day
                  1422  uploading pictures to webhost most of the day this day
                  1442  uploading pictures to webhost most of the day this day
                  1502  uploading pictures to webhost most of the day this day
5-May-2007              out of town/not using network
6-May-2007              out of town/not using network
7-May-2007              out of town/not using network
8-May-2007        2015
                  2019
9-May-2007              out of town/not using network
10-May-2007       0634
                  0817
                  1952
11-May-2007       1445
12-May-2007       0326
                  0500
                  0512
13-May-2007             out of town/not using network
14-May-2007             out of town/not using network
15-May-2007       2155
16-May-2007       1953
17-May-2007       1035
                  1822
                  1942
18-May-2007       1346
                  1346  (yes, twice inside a minute!)
                  1400
                  1402
19-May-2007       2006
                  2344
20-May-2007       2009
                  2301
21-May-2007       1042
                  1325
22-May-2007       0802
                  0924
                  1104
                  1335  attempting to download latest WoW patch and watch
                        an online video review, neither of which is
                        particularly bandwidth-intensive…and failing. Again.
                  1339
                  1355
                  1403
                  1406
                  1407
                  1410
                  1413
                  1415
                  1419
                  1428
                  1433
                  1459  "ToD request sent - No Response received --
                        Retrieved Time....... FAILED"
                  1510
                  1527  finally, TWO HOURS LATER, I'm able to complete watching
                        the online video review..a measly 62MB streaming file!
                  1607  275MB WoW patch finally downloaded at 1545. TWO HOURS.
                        Insanely slow with constant restarts/pauses!
                  2247
23-May-2007       0124
                  0146
                  0158
                  0508
24-May-2007       2026  out of town/not using network
25-May-2007             out of town/not using network
26-May-2007             out of town/not using network
27-May-2007             out of town/not using network
28-May-2007             out of town/not using network
29-May-2007       1639  out of town/not using network
30-May-2007             out of town/not using network
31-May-2007             out of town/not using network
1-Jun-2007              out of town/not using network
2-Jun-2007        1211  out of town/not using network
3-Jun-2007        1921
                  2001
4-Jun-2007        1327
5-Jun-2007              out of town/not using network
6-Jun-2007        0250  entire log cleaned out by "Acquired DS with
                        status NO FEC lock" errors over more than 10
                        minutes… other/earlier log entries almost certainly
                        lost

Open Letter to Time-Warner Milwaukee / Roadrunner

(the following post was password-protected for Time-Warner’s own consumption and viewing until Feb 20, 2008. -Alex) 

05 June 2007

Time Warner Cable

Milwaukee, WI

To whom it may concern:

We are writing to request most adamantly that someone finally take care of our family as Time-Warner/Roadrunner customers. We have been without fully- and normally-functioning Roadrunner broadband service since December, 2006. That’s NEARLY SIX MONTHS. It’s been at almost three months now since we were last told someone would test our Roadrunner connection and get back to us. No one ever did—we’re still waiting. Again!

Our connection, for the last several months since we started keeping track, dies on average about 5 times per day. During days of heavier usage, that number easily triples, or worse.

We essentially cannot download anything or use our Roadrunner connection reliably at all without it dying. The cable modem spontaneously reboots during almost any sustained downloading, when we’re on the phone, attempting to use connections that require constant connectivity (remote desktop, ssh and telnet sessions, any online video, online games, etc.). We get no warning, and there’s no obvious pattern. We get blindsided by the random reboots pretty much every single day at least once when we’re using Roadrunner.

Imagine having a car that’s supposed to be able to go 200 miles per hour on the highway. You’ve paid for the car to have that ability. You’re lucky to hit 60-70 miles per hour, though occasionally you hit 125-150 or so for a few seconds….and when you attempt to drive for any length of time, at any speed, the car up and dies…without any reason or explanation.

Now imagine taking it to the dealer and having that dealer tell you that there’s nothing wrong. And yet, clearly something is!

This is what’s happening with us and our Roadrunner connection for the last nearly six months. We refuse to pay for this herky-jerky, unacceptable level of service, and we refuse to accept that there’s nothing anyone at Time Warner can do about it.

We use our Roadrunner connection for all kinds of things. One of us works as a technology consultant, and has been unable to provide some services to clients since this started, and we’re losing money because of it. We can no longer use the connection for any sustained development or support work because we cannot rely on the connection at all. We restart telnet/ssh/scp/remote-desktop/etc sessions sometimes a dozen or more times a day.

We have had Vonage telephone service for nearly three years now. We are constantly being dropped during phone calls, many of which are quite important (job interviews, client discussions, long-distance family conversations, etc). It’s embarrassing and comes across as entirely unprofessional.

We cannot watch any online news or video without constant drops and restarts. It can take HOURS to finally make it through a simple 10-minute video clip. Streaming audio and video are obviously impossible. Online gaming that requires a persistent connection (World of Warcraft is one example of this for us) would also be completely impossible.

We are only barely able to do very basic things like upload and download files, family pictures, etc, only because the file transfer protocols involved support automatic resuming of those transfers when the connection has been disrupted. Otherwise, we’d be constantly reconnecting and restarting even those simplest of transfers, dozens of times, over and over again. So much time is wasted, and there is a LOT of frustration.

We’re at wit’s end. Your technicians have now TWICE told us that they would be testing our Roadrunner line and getting back in touch with us. The first time, they never tested the line at all! The second time—which is now more than a couple of months ago—we have no idea if the line was ever tested, and we have never been contacted again. Why?

We have also replaced the cable modem itself a couple of times. No change.

Also, irritatingly, the last technician here maintained that everything in our house is the problem. We mention Vonage, and he says “oh, YEP, VONAGE is the problem!” Then we tell him that it happens without any Vonage attachment to the network. Then he blames our router (which has been replaced once already due to the flaky connection killing it; additionally, the problem also happens without any router in use). Then our PCs (we have several, and it doesn’t matter which PC we use). Then the operating system (we use several OSes, including Linux, Windows XP, Vista, and Mac OSX). Then our televisions (happens when TVs are off and disconnected, too). Then our house cable wiring (we’ve connected the cable modem directly to line outside, and still have the problem). Then our house electrical wiring (tied into neighbor’s power to test, so it’s not that, either).

He basically did everything he could to place blame on us and remove himself and Time Warner from any responsibility. Is this something you train your technicians to do to customers?

I do PC and network consulting for a living. I know quite a few things. I also recognize when people are feeding obvious lines of bull. Just say “I don’t know, but we will figure it out”, mean it, and then TAKE CARE OF IT. You don’t promise something, never honor it, and then continue to bill for service that obviously isn’t working! Oh, wait…you do do that. You’re doing it right now, to us!

The line from the pole to our house has also been entirely replaced (and is still draped across 100 feet of yard and a ditch, as-yet still unburied from two tech visits ago now months ago; no idea if that will ever be fixed, either!). Thick bright orange cable, laying on the lawn…for months now.

The last technician that came out also told us our connection seemed fine, despite several cable modem reboots during his visit, and, during his final test, the cable modem rebooted when connected directly to the outside line, with no other hardware or equipment or wiring in the mix at all.

It also turns out, by his admission, that he is only capable of testing up to 5MBps download speed, and our “Turbo” connection should be capable of 8MBps. All he did was sit at a desk and test download speeds using the shorter speed tests on the SE WI RR speedtest page, and tell us it had to be OUR problem. Unacceptable!

We’re tired of being told that there’s no problem, or that the problem is somehow ours, and oh, by the way, we still expect you to pay for the service.

We expect someone to figure this out. We want and need the service, but we refuse to continue to pay for it as we’re currently receiving it.

We’ll reiterate: the problem seems to be related to NOTHING in our household. We suggest that the problem is in some way related to infrastructure or equipment leading to the outside pole/our house, but nowhere at all inside our house. We don’t know if there is equipment on poles between your offices and our pole that can’t handle sustained connections anymore, or if there’s some other issue.

We have also suggested to every customer-service person we’ve talked to, and to every tech that’s been here, that the Turbo service was turned on in December, and didn’t work well for a few days initially, but then worked great for a short while, and right after that, our connection started to suffer, and it’s only gotten worse since then. We had no problems prior to the Turbo service ‘upgrade’. We’ve suggested that the Turbo service being switched on for us might be the problem, but everyone has apparently ignored that idea as a possible source of the trouble.

We’ve since determined that we can almost 100% reliably duplicate the problem by starting a sustained download or two. The connection will drop within a minute or so, almost every time. It’s the only constant factor we’ve been able to find from our own testing here.

We’ve been personally, manually tracking the cable modem reboots now for quite some time. Going on three months now. We’re not always around, so there are periods where we miss some of the reboots, and thus, there are entries that are missing from our log…meaning, of course, that the problem is worse than it appears. The log is included with this letter. As of this writing, we’re averaging about 5 reboots per DAY, over the last 3 MONTHS or so, when we finally started tracking the reboots more seriously. On days when we’re out of town or aren’t actively using our RR connection, there may be very few or no reboots.

This irregular service issue is causing a lot of problems. First, it destroyed our wireless-G router. We can’t use our connection to connect to clients for our jobs, which is costing us money every single day. We can’t rely at all on our telephone. We can’t use any streaming media—music, video, etc—at all. We can’t do any online gaming. We can’t easily transfer pictures or other files in or out of our home/home office. We can’t use any ssh or telnet or other constantly-connected services without a LOT of extra hassle, disconnects/reconnects and constant interruptions. The download speeds when things ARE working are often not even remotely close to the advertised speeds (although they were previously spot-on for the brief period of time the Turbo service worked for us). Before this situation started, we got MUCH better speeds, so we know better is possible, and that something is wrong.

Clearly no one should have to pay for such lousy service. The way we’ve been handled and treated so far has been utterly deplorable.

Our suggestions for solving this issue:

See if the Turbo service is a factor at all. Drop my speed down to the regular level of service temporarily and see if the problems go away.

See if any other customers—particularly those on my segment, and more particularly, those that also have the Turbo service—have the same problems (they may not use their connections enough to realize it’s happening to them, too!)

Check your infrastructure for any issues, particularly as might relate to Turbo RR service and sustained downloading at speed.

Credit our account for all these months of poor service, and continue to do so until this situation is resolved.

We want to make clear that we’re very willing to pay for properly-working service. We definitely do prefer the “Turbo” speeds when everything is working as it should. Dropping us down to standard 5Mbps service, even if it fixes the problem, is not what we would call an ideal solution. We urge you to investigate this problem further, and we also expect not to be held accountable for any Roadrunner charges since December, or any future Roadrunner charges, until this situation is resolved.

We cannot reasonably be expected to personally babysit this issue for you forever. We’ve been reporting problems, and expecting answers. We’ve received no answers and no resolution. We feel like we are being ignored, all while you continue to demand payment for it! We will note that we have received two months of service credit so far, and we’re grateful for that, but it’s simply not enough. We’ve lost a lot of income and and a lot of time both dealing with the constant interruptions as well as trying to work around them and document them so we can get someone to finally take some notice and fix it. We experience extreme frustration with this situation multiple times a day.

We look forward to hearing from someone quickly with some sort of action plan and/or resolution. This is really our last resort before contacting the Wisconsin Attorney General’s office and local media’s “consumer interest” journalists. We’ve certainly got enough information to make clear the extent of our issue, our patience, and the apparent incompetence and/or indifference on the part of Time-Warner/Roadrunner up to this point.

 

Thank you.

Alex and Stacey Falkenberg

Addendum: You recently sent us a past-due notice for two months of service unpaid. You referred to this amount as “seriously past due”, and are threatening us with service disconnection and additional fees for reconnection.

The irony, of course, is that our Roadrunner service already disconnects several times daily…

One-half of the amount you’re calling “seriously past due” was, as of the date of the letter, NOT EVEN DUE YET. Why send out a letter on May 27th demanding payment for an amount half of which isn’t actually due until June 4th? Surely someone can explain this.

I’ll add that prior to receipt of this letter from you, we did in fact send out a check, but it was for the cable TV portion of our last two bills, and the full taxes/fees amounts from both, but not for the Roadrunner service at all, specified as such on the check. Since some of those taxes and fees are also related to Roadrunner, we’ve actually overpaid you at this point, from our perspective.