1 Richard Lawson v. Time Warner Cable | The Billfold

Richard Lawson v. Time Warner Cable

Last night Richard Lawson took to Twitter for a congenial discussion with a Time Warner Cable service rep about their terrible, horrible, awful, just stupendously bad service. His issue remains unresolved! Relive every delicious tweet. That flutter in your chest? That’s just the stirring of protest, of action in your heart. Give in. No kingdom lasts forever. Even this will end, and life and earth will reign again.


37 Comments / Post A Comment

jmdj (#2,994)

This isn’t cool. He’s being a jerk to someone earning a living in customer service. If he’d actually wanted help he would have sent his acct. info. You’ve just highlighted a Troll as a hero.

pissy elliott (#844)

@jmdj Seriously. And the incredibly disingenuous “I have no ill will” shit is really awful.

pissy elliott (#844)

@pissy elliott Oh, if it’s not personal, cool, keep berating someone in a customer service job in front of your rapt audience of followers! Really nice thing to do!

Maladydee (#909)

@pissy elliott Yeah, for a company as large as TW, Richard Lawson is WAY too common of a name for them to find his account with only that information. He is literally refusing to cooperate with them, and then berating them for not helping him.

And as far as the person operating the twitter account being a ‘robot’? Companies who have a clue are SUPER strict about what you can say on their twitter feed. That guy was trying to bait the rep into saying something that could actually get them fired.

No sympathy whatsoever. I bet he hasn’t called tech support more than twice in the past year before completely giving up and just deciding to rage instead. Which: counterproductive. No one can help you if you’re not willing to put in the effort it takes to pick up the fucking phone. Or, even easier, DM your acct info to someone who is *trying to talk you into letting them help you.*

On that note, I have to go to work now, to my tech support job where I have to talk people into cooperating with me so I can get their problems fixed. And every single person I will talk to today has more initiative than that guy, because they at least made the effort to call us.

AitchBee (#3,001)

What a diiiiiiick

Yeah, this is…really stupid. That person needs their job, and is doing it exactly as they have to.

RachelG8489 (#1,297)

This was a total dick move. Even the internet-famous need to give further identifying information to their cable companies, dude.

And I have to add that when I was having problems with something re: Verizon and my internet service and tried tweeting at them instead of calling? They asked for my account number. I DM’ed it to them. And then they DM’ed me an answer to my question. Like, within five minutes. Don’t be a dick to the people running the Twitter accounts!

loren smith (#2,300)

@RachelG8489 Yeah! The only thing I use my twitter account for is asking for help from my cell phone provider. It is the only thing that works!

Nick (#1,548)

I’m a fan of Richard, but he was being a colossal asshole here. Disappointing and embarrassing.

Yeah, agree that this was a dick move. Although, I couldn’t help but laugh and think of Jack Donaghy: “I just moved the Kabletown customer service center to a province in India with no telephone service, thereby giving customers the same level of service they’ve come to expect… at a cost of zero dollars.”

ellabella (#1,480)

My roommate and I were just complaining about how shitty our Time Warner internet is last night. The two of us can’t be online at the same time, despite all the $$$$$$ we’re paying. I just tweeted at them, I’ll get back to you to see if it goes any better. (I did DM them my account #, so there’s that. Still, hopes are low.)

Surely it is Time Warner that has put their employee in this situation by offering terrible service at extortionate prices? Plus, we’re not talking about shouting at some low-level call center drone here — anyone with the keys to the official Twitter account of a $30 billion company is going to be pretty high up in the PR apparatus, especially when interacting with even the lowliest kind of celebrity.

I assure you that the person on the other end of those tweets is probably laughing about the situation, and is certainly not a single mother crying at her desk “because I’m only doing this to feed my five kids!”

@stuffisthings …and this is why I have rabbit ears, a Netflix account, and the ability to type certain nautically themed Swedish URLs into my browser’s address bar.

Hey guys, this is Richard. I agree that I was being a jerk, and I feel badly about it… to a point. The thing is, this was the public end of a longstanding problem with TimeWarner. I’ve spent countless hours over the past few years on the phone with them, and have received seriously terrible customer service just about every time. My television working is a crucial necessity for my job and to pay as much as I do and have it be broken all the time is incredibly frustrating. Especially because there are no other cable options where I live, and they know that. They have everyone who is beholden to them over a barrel and only play kind, caring customer service rep on a public forum like Twitter. Last night was just the regrettably public culmination of this ongoing frustration.

Again I appreciate what you’re all saying and will tread more lightly in the future. But understand that Time Warner is still the worst company in the world and that at some point they have to be held accountable for that. Ah well.

Mrs. Beeton (#320)

@Richard Lawson@twitter I promise I’m not being a smart-ass with this question, but can you claim your cable bill as a business expense?

jeremyz (#3,312)

@Richard Lawson@twitter I’ve moved on to 4-tuner Tivo, but my experience with TWC DVR is that they have a ton of free VOD options for most of the Important prime-time programming. Who know? Maybe there’s a feature you haven’t found yet. Instead of doing what you did, maybe you could have allowed them to try and help solve your actual problem.
Alan Sepinwall would have ended up getting Glenn Britt to drive over with a six-pack, flowers and a DVD of whatever he it was that he missed with a nice, humane phone call, because he’s a nice, humane guy. You can’t position yourself as an outsider and then act surprised when you’re not treated special.


EM (#1,012)

@Richard Lawson@twitter WHY DO YOU PAY $200 A MONTH FOR CABLE? THAT IS INSANE. If it’s this bad then you don’t have to feel guilty about torrenting everything ever.

sony_b (#225)

@Richard Lawson@twitter I don’t know, BofA is right up there with them. I got into a twitter war there last summer when they sent me somebody elses approval on offer they were making that was competitive with mine. Also when they missed closing on the house we were trying to buy from them. But I told them flat out that I didn’t want the help desk to help – I was tweeting to the world a narrative of how they were fucking up at the time, and I’m totally OK with that. The only resolution is firing the guys who were actually sending private information to the wrong people, the guys who threaten to fine us if we delayed close and then forgot to show up themselves, etc. And there’s no way that’s happening. So I was A-OK with sparring with the twitter feed. And I run one of the larger twitter feeds for a Fortune500 company myself. You were definitely not dealing with a customer service peon. You were dealing with somebody in marketing who makes six figures, easy.

I’m glad you weren’t polite, is what I’m saying. :)

@sony_b THANK YOU. I was starting think I was crazy here. (I run the Twitter feed for a nonprofit whose annual budget is about what Time Warner spends in a week on corporate lunches.)

sony_b (#225)

@stuffisthings It is rare that I, a marketing weasel (by accident, but still), get to be useful. :)

@Richard Lawson@twitter Feel “badly.” Lol.

Jobeans (#227)

@Richard Lawson@twitter As a former Time Warner Cable customer (as of today! just got FIOS, sayonara suckers!) I don’t think you were being an asshole. Seriously, if any of the people who are commenting here had experienced a single conversation with a TWC representative they would know better.

Richard. I fully support you on this. Its not just this one incident for you I’m sure. I also have lost my cool at TWC many a time, and its never because of one incident it is because of the same thing happening over and over, and their customer service just being awful.

I got your back.

pocket-witch (#1,576)

Yeah, kind of a dick move. My internet at my apt was just not working for a couple months. I’ve always had pretty shitty internet, so I was used to it, but my roommate, who had never had wifi in her house growing up, expected it to work and would call TWC everytime it went out. We had the service guys come at least ten times, and it finally started working for real when some kind of supervisor came along with the technician. But: we were never dicks to any of them. They aren’t doing it out of spite. And you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

smack (#307)

Ok there are two issues here:
1) Time Warner’s DVR functionality is absolutely and complete garbage. I’ve had the exact same problem SO MANY times with Time Warner – I have literally checked “ok, it’s recording, it says recording, it’s there on my list, this is great, I’ll watch Community later” and then when I go back, where is my recording? It is no where. It is gone. There has been no effort by TWC to improve their HDDVR offering (because why would they? it’s not like it’s on demand, and frankly, if it doesn’t work, it could give them more On-Demand showings anyway). They remain impassive in the face of puny antlings railing against the status quo (no joke, saddest day in the last year was when a person hawking Uverse came to our door and we spent an hour outside filling out forms only to get called by AT&T being all “psych! we don’t serve your area, like WHY DID YOU EVEN COME BY MY HOUSE YOU BASTARDS).

2) Customer service people are never the people who can fix your problem unless your problem is you got your cable shut off ’cause you didn’t pay your bill. Thus, it is unnecessary to be mean to them, because they are usually underpaid, underqualified, and basically just poor miserable humans sipping from the shit hose day in and day out. Customer service sucks. However, kindness, empathy, and an implacable repeat line “I’m so sorry, can I speak to your manager” and refusal to hang up the phone can work wonders. In this case, since it is the DEVIL we are talking about, the wonders are “hey here is a discounted 3 months of cable and no appreciable fix! Later, sucker, I have to twirl my moustache while my stockholders swim in pools of golden doubloons!”

@smack Yo I totally agree with #2 but as I said above, the person running Time Warner’s twitter account is not some poor underpaid peon. I assure you.

@stuffisthings …and now the person(s) behind @TWCableHelp can put “Increased interactions by 16%” on their CV, what’s the big deal?

Olivia2.0 (#260)

@stuffisthings Just curious but…how can you assure us of that? I have a hard time believing that’s true.

julebsorry (#1,572)

@smack The fact that customer service folks are so disenfranchised actually is a big thing for me. The company knows full well what they’re doing – they make you navigate an impossibly long list of phone trees and type in 14 digit account numbers, only to be routed to some poor peon who makes like $9 an hour and has zero authority. They’re basically hired to be punching bags. Companies like TWC count on our humanity to be kind and understanding to these workers because “well, it’s not THEIR fault”. The company, rather than providing good service, figures it’s better to provide crappy service so your problem won’t merit anything more than a stressed-sounding “I’m sorry, sir”.
For example – I had to call FIOS about an outage a few days ago. After literally about 20 minutes, I finally was able to speak to an agent who helpfully informed me “there’s an outage”. Oh wow, thanks. When I asked for a credit for my wasted time and nonworking service, she told me I was welcome to contact the billing department to ask for a credit. So, she didn’t have the number. No, she couldn’t transfer me. And no, she DEFINITELY couldn’t credit me herself. Also the billing department was closed, but I was welcome to call back and waste another 20 minutes tomorrow to try for some crappy $15 account credit. I felt bad b/c she was so apologetic and clearly felt awful about her impotence in the situation. But if I’m polite (or even if I call back and wait another 20 minutes of valuable time to complain at billing) then FIOS has won, b/c they know their shitty setup will cause me to not call bother to call in later for a well-deserved account credit. Never think these inconveniences are not by design – they know EXACTLY what they’re doing.

@Olivia2.0 Because Time Warner Cable has thousands and thousands of call center operators scattered across the globe and one (1) Twitter account representing their technical support operation. For a giant corporation, even one as widely loathed as Time Warner, the “brand” is like the testicles — they will reflexively react to protect them from any sort of attack. So the moment an even moderately Internet-famous person started publicly berating them on Twitter, I’m positive that it was escalated to a higher-level PR flack, even if they weren’t the ones actually tapping at the keyboard.

@julebsorry Is this an argument for or against what Lawson did? It seems to me that publicly berating a corporate Twitter account is qualitatively different than shouting at a call center operator both in the psychic effects on the person receiving the abuse AND in terms of the potential to actually result in a meaningful resolution.

faustbanana (#2,376)

@stuffisthings “You see, kids, the name “Time Warner” is the balls on the body conglomerate… their Twitter account, the protective cup that shields the brand from your furious accusations. This is why their Twitter account also recommends not wearing tight jeans and/or briefs.”

sony_b (#225)

@smack – See my other comment to Lawson – stuffisthings is correct- the person on the other end of that feed is a high high level marketin person, probably with an MBA. I know because I run one as part of my job.

I have been a CSR (worked my way through college dispatching tow trucks for AAA) and would never berate a call center person like that, unless they were being an absolute idiot. This is really an apples and oranges situation. The person on that twitter feed is literally 6-7 levels above the call center in seniority, responsibility, and pay.

pterodactylish (#2,321)

Guys, these are CUSTOMER SERVICE reps. When a customer is not offered a service, at some point, it’s time to rage. You have to rage like this to get ANY kind of service at Time Warner. You have to knwo the code words (Level II operators) and you have to be willing to spend HOURS on the phone. It’s OUTRAGEOUS and they do need to be held accountable. So, snaps Richard. We’ve all been doing this for awhile and finally someone with a hefty following does it.

You really think it’s snarky and rude? Try spending 188/month for this service and not getting it. The person who had a service rep come a DOZEN times before getting appropriate service? What the hell? Who has that kind of time???? Who is willing to spend thousands of dollars then add many many hours of time too? I could probably train a hamster to run on a wheel and power my TV in the time I’ve spent hating Time Warner and sitting on hold.

iLeonD@twitter (#3,314)

All cable companies have these kids on the front line to take the brunt of attacks like this… They read from the script and if it gets settled excellent. Main issue is that these companies do not care. I had enough of the bad business they conduct and I walked away. It’s been a better existence without them.

Yeah, he was being kind of a dick, but I look at it this way: Bad publicity for any cable/satellite company is a good thing. Also, he did point out that it wasn’t the customer service rep’s fault at some point. Really, something needs to be done about the monopolistic practices of this industry.

Plus, Richard Lawson can do no wrong in my book :)

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