Tl;dr: For the most part this post is a ranty consumer advocacy warning about my experience with Time Warner Cable, but I attempt to tie it back to regularly scheduled blog topics with a bigger point about accountability at the end.
At the end of June, I received an Internet bill that, with no prior warning, was 20 dollars higher than normal. When I spoke to a TWC representative via the seemingly convenient chat option (beforehand checking the button for ‘I would like an email transcript,’ he told me that my ‘promotion’ had ended, BUT that there was another identical one that he could give me, and would apply it to my current bill. He assured me that while it wasn’t showing up in my account, the new promotion would be retroactively applied and I only needed to pay my normal amount. I thanked him, paid the normal amount immediately and didn’t give it another thought, although it seemed weird that I never got a transcript.
Then I got this month’s bill. Not only was I being charged the increased rate, but it told me that I owed 20 dollars from last month’s bill. Two more representatives who both said that they were putting notes on my account told me that chat representatives didn’t actually have the authority to give promotions or change bill amounts and I would need to call in the morning. (I only got a chat transcript when I explicitly demanded it from one of them after the previous chat wasn’t recorded either.)
The first representative I spoke to said he could give me a (worse) promotion for the future, but couldn’t do anything about my past bill. When he transferred me to customer service, I was disconnected. After calling back, the next representative said that he hadn’t applied any promotion but that –she- could and then transferred me to customer service. Disconnected again. I final reached someone in customer service (who you can’t call directly) who finally honored what I was told had been done a month of unawareness, an hour of text chatting and another hour of phone conversations earlier.
What does any of this have to do with space, science or history? Not a whole lot except to illustrate what happens when there is a lack of accountability – a bothersome theme that runs through the normal topics of the blog. I had no way of identifying any of these representatives except by their first name. They literally refused to give me any way to verify or confirm what they told me.
A lack of accountability (or accountability to the wrong people about the wrong things) can often be seen when the government runs things, and is one of the reasons I advocate privatization much of the time. Clearly, private companies don’t automatically equal accountability.