Left Hand, Right Hand

I spoke a little less than two weeks ago about my travails
finding out whether and when I could get cable modem service. Some of you strongly suggested I go to an office and find out what was really going on.

Yesterday, both my schedule and the weather allowed me to take a trek over to the Time-Warner office.

I live in the northwest corner of Queens in New York City; east of Manhattan, a few miles west of LaGuardia Airport and Shea Stadium. Where I live consists mainly of row houses: if you can imagine Archie Bunker’s neighborhood in brick, you know what it looks like.

The Time-Warner office is north of where I live. It has historically been an out-of-the-way place occupied by a small cemetery and industrial concerns (the Steinway piano factory is not too far away).

Outside of work hours, it’s not a low-traffic place; it’s a no-traffic place. Matter of fact, sixty years ago, Nazi spies used a spot in the area as a drop-off point for messages. I’m serious. It still would be a good spot today.

Anyway, I walked over, and got to talk to a customer rep/salesperson.

Yes, the building is still there. 🙂

I’m really not a PITA customer. What I am is prepared, and I don’t dawdle. If you have what I want, I buy it, fast. If you don’t, I walk out, fast.

In this particular case, Time-Warner was offering expanded cable TV along with Roadrunner service.

There had been a thread over at the Anandtech Forums about what cable deals TWC had in the NYC area. One of the all-in-one deals looked good enough to me.

So you see, I walked in their having already sold myself on their package. See how easy I can be?

Of course, all this hinged upon a single question, “Can I get Roadrunner?”

So I popped that question, and heard the three-letter word I had been waiting to hear for almost a year, “Yes.” Next Tuesday, as a matter of fact.

I briefly explained the difficulties I had had in getting that sort of answer, and asked, out of sheer curiosity, when my neck of the woods had been activated.

He told me June 4. I found that very interesting, because that was a whole eleven days after Time-Warner had told me that they could not possibly tell me when I might get this.

Even more intriguing, I tossed in yet another, “tell me when it’s ready” request to the Time-Warner website after my area has been activated, and I’ve still not heard from them.

Guess some headquarters is going to get a letter. Now THAT will be fire-breathing. 🙂

The Moral of the Story

The moral of the story is not that Time-Warner should be put on trial for consumer war crimes.

Rather, it is very common in a bureaucracy, any bureaucracy, for the left hand to be doing something, and the right hand to be completely unaware of what the left hand is doing.

When this happens to a real person, therapy is required. The problem is that legal persons like corporations are much more suspectible to this, and treatment is much harder.

You probably cannot and certain would not want to spend the effort to cure a company of this particular disease, but you certainly can offer spot treatment for corporate spasticity when it comes to you.

Probably the best way to do this is prepare. Check forums and newsgroups, post a question or two in relevant places, see what others have been told. If everyone’s saying the same thing, that’s one thing. If they don’t, then maybe you can serve as surrogate corporate communications. 🙂

Email Ed

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