Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Looooooooooooooooooong Story Short (PART 1)

Okay.  I have once again been negligent in my blogging duties here for a period of months, and it is again due to guilt at not having anything to report in the ongoing situation with Suddenlink.

Well, actually, there has been some degree of things I could have been reporting about the situation, but mostly it’s been a matter of still not having internet service with them and still not receiving call backs from them as regularly as I would care to.  The main reason that I have kept quiet on these potential complaints is that I was trying to play nice in the hope that it would get me somewhere.  And while I think it has taken me further than if I’d waged a play by play, daily, negative media campaign, playing nice has not taken me quite the distance I had hoped since we still don’t have service. 

After nine—count `em, NINE—months of waiting, it appears very much as though we will never have high speed internet service through Suddenlink in our current home.  There are indeed technological issues at the root of this—some woefully expensive and others simply untested by Suddenlink’s choice and my own decision not to press the issue further.  And that’s okay.  I’m not trying to call anybody out here, just stating the facts.  

That said, as of last week, we do finally have high speed internet service through another company that had not previously been available to us.  We no longer have to rely upon the 3G hotspot feature in our cell phones to go online.  This being the case, I’m officially ending my “battle” to get service with Suddenlink.  And I’m calling that battle a draw.  Even though my dealings with them did not end as satisfactorily as I would have liked, essentially I got what I wanted, which was for someone to FINALLY call me back.  Granted, it took them seven months to actually do so, but once communication was established things went fairly well.  In fact, I bear no ill will toward Suddenlink anymore.  I would be more than happy to use them in the future in case the wife and I move to a different dwelling that is capable of receiving service through them.  
That said, I do feel like I owe what readership may still be here after all these months some degree of explanation as to the events that have occurred since I last wrote about the problem, not to mention a summation of what those events were for folks who didn't want to translate my fable-speak in the Once Upon a Time series.  Again, not pointing any fingers and not trying to get anyone at Suddenlink in any kind of trouble, just stating facts. 

As I mentioned in my entry back in August, a Suddenlink employee named Tina read of my troubles with the company on this blog thanks to my finally name-checking the company rather than my veiled references to  The Link of Sudden.  She asked for an explanation of the situation and I emailed her the SHORT SHORT history.

So, just to play catch up, below is a copy of the SHORT SHORT VERSION email I wrote to Tina in early August.  I’ve edited it only to remove names and phone numbers and one other word that was incorrectly chosen but inconsequential to anything.

AUGUST 8, 2012

Dear Tina,

Thanks for the note on my blog.  Since you’re a Suddenlink employee who needs to know the particulars of my case, the phone number my account is listed under (not one that works, cause we no longer have an active account with Suddenlink) is (NUMBER REDACTED) The number I can be contacted at now is (NUMBER REDACTED).

If you like, you can see in the account notes the timeline of the ongoing matter, but below is the short short version that doesn't have to be translated from fable-speak, as in the blog.

Back in February, my wife and I moved from BORDERLAND, WV to TRI-METRO, WV.  We chose the house we purchased partially because it had Suddenlink service and we and our real estate agent assumed would have high speed internet capabilities.  Turns out, not so much.  The house, we learned, had cable TV service, but the cable line running to the house was over 300 feet from its junction box well at the bottom of the western side of the hill.  We were told by two different installation techs that data signal on that line would not be consistently available so they could not install HSI (HIGH SPEED INTERNET) service.  We were told we were unserviceable.  This we understood, but because all of our immediate neighbors (including one only 70 feet from our house) already have high speed internet service through Suddenlink, we feel (and have been told by Suddenlink) that it is technologically possible for us to have the service as well if certain upgrades are made to the local system.  We were advised by the secondinstallation tech to call and ask to speak to someone in the tech department and to request that a survey of the site be conducted.  And this (THE SURVEY) was done. 

The surveyor came out and told me that in order for our house to receive signal, either the entire valley would need to be restrung with new poles and new cables from the main box on (STREET REDACTED) road to us, (not a likely scenario, I admit) or the junction box physically closest to us, in my neighbor’s yard 70 feet down the hillside from us, would have to be upgraded to be able to accept a third cable and that cable would need to be buried and run up the hill to us.  At that time (early March) he said that his superior officer would have to conduct a cost/benefit analysis to determine if Suddenlink would be willing to undertake either option.  He also assured me that I would be contacted within a few days regarding the results.  This contact has yet to occur.

In the intervening months, I’ve called repeatedly to ask for the result and with each call have been promised that someone would be contacting me by phone regarding the issue.  At first I just wanted to know the results of the cost/benefit analysis as promised.  As the weeks stretched on, I just wanted the promises of phone calls to be kept at all.  I believe I said to one phone rep, “I just want an answer even if it’s `no.’”  I wanted to know the answer of whether or not the junction box in my neighbor’s yard could be upgraded to allow us a cable.  I even offered to pay for the burial of the cable itself if the junction box could be upgraded.  No calls were received.

After two months of promised calls and no results, Iended my service with Suddenlink for our BORDERLAND house on the grounds that I was paying for service I was not receiving.  I believe I did have some of this time refunded to me, which was nice.  But I still wanted an answer about TRI-METRO.  In all my phone correspondence, I made sure to leave my cell phone number as the number to reach me at, as the one on file would not work. 

I must say that my dealings with Suddenlink phone reps have mostly been cheerful.  Many have seemed sympathetic to the situation and have attempted to leave the sort of escalating notes to supervisors and local techs that were designed to get attention.  

And, on April 23, eleven days after I had last been promised a call, seven weeks after I first phoned to move my service, I finally received the first and so far only phone call from Suddenlink.  It was from a supervisor who had received the escalated note from 10 days previous and was calling to see what he could do. Unfortunately, he was a supervisor from the BORDERLAND office somehow thinking this was about the house in BORDERLAND and not the house in TRI-METRO.  Upon realizing this, he assured me that a “Leon” from the TRI-METRO area office would be in contact within the day.  Leon never called.

A month later, on May 26, I called Suddenlink again to try again at getting some info.  The phone rep, Amber, said there was a note in the account that the cost of installation would be $12,000.  That was all she said was there.  No indication if this meant we had to pay $12,000, or Suddenlink would have to pay $12,000 or if we were to split it with Suddenlink or any actual details.  She said she would escalate another note up the chain to a supervisor and that someone would call us back to let us know.   No call came. 

On July 27, two months later, I phoned Suddenlink back to see if the notes had been updated with an actual answer since this was about the only form of communication that had actually happened.  There were no updates that the rep I spoke to could see.  He was very helpful, though, and made further notes as to the situation and the fact that since late February I’ve been promised a phone call approximately 18 times and have yet to receive one beyond the erroneous one from the supervisor in BORDERLAND.

I really like Suddenlink’s service.  I only want to receive it.  Or to be told via a conversation with an actual human being or in writing why it is that the local junction box in my neighbor’s yard cannot be upgraded.   I seem to be the only one in the neighborhood who does not have high speed internet through Suddenlink.  (I know no one has it through anyone else, because I’ve tried everyone else and no one can provide it even though we’re within spitting distance of the city limits.) 

I’m not requesting the entire valley be restrung on my behalf.  But if the one junction box in my neighbor’s yard, which contains two plugs (one for her and one for the neighbor across from her) could be replaced with one that has three plugs, that would be awesome.  I am still willing to pay for the cable to be buried if it comes to that.  I just need to know if it can and will come to that.  I am not willing to pay $12,000 or even $6000 to receive a service all of my neighbors and by all logic I should already have.  But I am willing to go to some expense to see this done. 

Clearly there is a disconnect somewhere between Suddenlink’s West Virginia office (CALL CENTER) and the actual field office in our area.  The easy explanation is that the field office is not seeing my cell number listed in the request for a call and are continuing to try and call the disconnected number of the old account.  Every time I've called since the account was disconnected, I've been sure to leave the new number I can be reached at.  No call.  It just seems to me that either a deep break in communication has happened somewhere or there is someone in the chain who doesn’t feel it’s part of their job to phone customers back after 18 promises that such callbacks will be made. 

So far, I’ve kept my blogging on the matter to a thinly veiled nature hoping there would be a happy resolution for me to report.   I only mentioned Suddenlink by name in my blog post recently in the hope that someone would pay attention and see that there is a problem here that needs to be addressed. Thank you for doing so.

That is the short short version.

Tina received that letter and forwarded it to a director of operations higher up the chain.  That director, Jack, then wrote me back to let me know that a local tech manager would be contacting me and promised that efforts would be taken to make certain that the situation that befell me would not befall anyone else in the future.  (This, I believe, may be my ultimate achievement in the entire matter, since policy changes of any sort are often glacial with such companies.  I’d like to think that all my effort did not go for naught and that I blazed a trail so that the people who come behind me will have an easier journey.)  Jack also gave me his personal cell number in case I had any further trouble.  I’ve still not had any cause to use it.  So thanks go out to Jack for that. 



chaniarts said...

this company is regulated by something in your state: utility or corporation commission. drop them a line, and you'll probably hear from the VP shortly.

Anonymous said...

I've not read, yet, but I've also not checked in for a bit (I'm *very* behind on my blog-reading all together)...and Here is a bright and shiny new post! Hello!

Anonymous said...

o.m.g. that is NOT the resolution I expected, but you have internet! So yay for that!