Sunday, January 7, 2007

Charter Communications cable system: Stay Away!

I have had it with Charter cable. As soon as I find a workable alternative, I will be saying good riddance to them.

The dvr they have provided me, and the "dvr service" that goes along with it, is pure crap. For more information on this, see below.

Today, I sat down to watch me some NFL playoffs. This viewing experience was completely ruined, along with my afternoon, because of the bug detailed below. That is, I had paused the Jets-Patriots game, gone off to do some other stuff, and when I came back about an hour later I found that the dvr had stopped recording after about 30 minutes. So I had lost about half an hour of the game.

To compound this fuck-up, as noted below, the only way to make the dvr start recording again is to change the channel (thereby losing everything you've recorded on the channel you're navigating away from, whether you've watched it or not), then change the channel back to the original channel. At which point you are now at the live broadcast point. So, really, in order to be able to see any of the game past the live broadcast point where you discovered this problem, you can't even watch the part that it DID record. So, actually I lost an hour of the game instead of just half an hour.

So, silly me, since this only happens every once in while, I changed the channel, changed it back, hit pause, and then went off to do some other stuff again so that I could build up some recording delay (that way you don't have to watch commercials, or the inane studio half time show, etc). But of course when I came back 40 minutes later I found that the same thing had again occured.

Instead of smashing my tv (or more appropriately, my dvr) as I probably would have done a couple of years ago in my salad days, I went onto these internets and looked up Charter's website. Charter's website, as also noted below, is one of the shittiest sites in the history of the internets. Its purpose is to con unsuspecting consumers into buying Charter's shitty products. To this end, it has a "support" section, which is basically a bunch of bad ad copy masquerading as "FAQs". A search of said support section reveals exactly two "articles" containing the word "dvr". One is a list of items you will receive when you go to the Charter office to pick up your dvr. How this information is helpful is beyond the potential of my weak consumer brainpower.

The other article is an "FAQ" containing 9 questions. 9. I have listed some of these questions below (Yes, these are the actual questions in this FAQ, an FAQ posted on the website of a multi-billion dollar company, a company which has been granted monopoly status over an important consumer service by a long list of municipalities, including, unfortunately, the one I happen to live in), along with somewhat more appropriate answers than are actually provided in the actual FAQ:

1. What is the difference between a Charter DVR and a VCR? [ANSWER: a VCR generally does what it purports to do.]

3. When will Charter DVR be available in my area? [ANSWER: Ummm, don't you mean, when will a WORKING Charter DVR be available in my area?]

4. Will I need to purchase any special equipment to use Charter DVR? [ANSWER: No, not if you are uninterested in watching television. However, for those interested in watching television, we recommend purchasing the following additional equipment and services: a TIVO unit, lifetime TIVO subscription, sattelite dish, and a DirecTV subscription]

5. I am a Charter Cable subscriber. Will Charter DVR be available to me? [ANSWER: Ummm, if you keep asking the same stupid fucking questions, we'll have to keep giving you the same stupid fucking answers]

6. I am interested in buying a DVR; can I use a DVR purchased from my local electronics retailer with Charter Digital? [ANSWER: Maybe. If you are a hard core electronics geek, you might can get this to work, but we've made it as difficult as we possibly could without really "violating" any fair trade regulations or consumer protection statutes. NOTE: on second glance, this answer is almost identical to the one they actually provide]

7. Can I get a DVR that allows me to watch and record HD programming? [ANSWER: Yes, we have these! They are called "Charter DVR". But if you want one that actually works, please see FAQs #4 and #6 above]

8. Can I record programs from HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, etc using Charter DVR? [ANSWER: Yes! But recording programs from these channels will be just as infuriatingly hit-and-miss as recording programs from regular channels]

As you can see, these FAQs are completely worthless as "support" for the many and varied problems one will encounter while trying to make use of Charter DVR.

More later.


comment4U said...

I hate Charter rid of it a few years ago. And I understand that Direct TV is the way to go with their licensed version of TIVO.

k3ll491042 said...

I am a Charter employee so I can understand your frustrations with our service. Although you may think their services are shitty, they have reached the homes of 5 million + Americans and because of that I would like to say thank you. Thank you for forking your hard earned money over to pay for my $15 pr hr tech support salary. Thank you for giving the Charter the money to be able to pay my full tuition and thank you for allowing me to receive $300 in commission every pay period and an additional $200+ for just doing well at my job.

Shitty service for customers yet great opprounity to employees.