With so many still without power in the wake of Hurricane Sandy things like cable and Internet haven't exactly been a top priority for many New Yorkers. But if you lost power after the storm and are expecting the cable companies to do the right thing and automatically refund you for those days... you don't know cable companies. And don't even think about asking for a credit until you get your service back.
Basically the contracts for Time Warner Cable, RCN, Verizon Fios, Dish and Comcast all technically allow them to say screw you if you want to be refunded for lost service (in fact, Verizon, Dish and Comcast all specially say that "acts of God" are no reason why they should be liable for your service outage). But in reality they each will make some concessions to your bill—if you ask. And, at least in the case of Patrick Stewart's foe Time Warner Cable, you must ask only after your service has been restored. Just look at this nightmare chat one Gothamist tipster (who was still without service) had this weekend with a Time Warner employee:
We are experiencing higher than usual service times. Please wait and an analyst will be with you shortly.
Fred: Thank you for contacting Time Warner Cable. At the end of our chat you will be given the option of taking a brief survey. My name is Fred. Please give me a moment while I access your account.
Fred: Thank you.
Fred: I understand that you have problem with your Internet service. Is that correct?.
Fred: I will be glad to assist you with this matter.
Fred: For verifications. Would you tell me your account number, please?.
XX_: give us a second...
XX_: its on our bill right?
Fred: Yes. That is correct.
Fred: Thank you for your information.
Fred: I am sorry. Is this account under your name?.
XXX_: its under XXXXXXX, my husband
Fred: I see.
Fred: I can see in this account that it is still under an outage. I am sorry for this information. I recommend you to wait some hours until our technicians fix the problem in an external equipment due to the last hurricane.
XXXXXX_: Do you have a date
Fred: At this moment we do not have an estimated time to get this problem fixed.
XXXXXX_: Will you cut our bill next cycle for yh 2-3 days of outage
Fred: Meantime, you can check next link to get information in how to resolve general issues and find most procedures for self support. Please keep it in your favorite links:
XXXXX_: Please adjust our bill this cycle for the time you are unable to provide service
Fred: We understand that this is frustrating for you and we can assure you that detailed notes have been left on your account to credit you for the time you have been without your services. Once the services have been restored we encourage you to call or email us so that we may credit your account for the days the services were out.
Fred: Is there anything else I can help you with?.
XXXX_: Can you give us the e-mail we should write to to confirm the credit
XXXX_: we are getting a copy of this transcript by e-mail so we will forward it with the days interrupted when you restore
Fred: Sure. Just a moment, please.
Fred: I can tell you that all this notes will be set in your account.
XXXX_: good, please pass the e-mail unless you can confirm this will automatically credit
Fred: Just one moment, please.
Fred: Next link will give you information about the way to contact us via email or chat to check your credit later. Please take a look later when you want:
Fred: Is there anything else I can help you with?.
XXXX_: that is not an e-mail - I would prefer not to go through this process again. Can you process the credit now.
XXXX_: For the Tuesday to Monday with no service. I can access the chat again if you have no service Tuesday.
Fred: I am sorry. It is necessary to wait until this issue has been solved to the system calculate the respective credit.
XXXX_: Well, do the partial credit now. Are you providing service Tuesday to Sunday to this address?
Fred: Yes. That is correct. We are 7 days a week.
XXXX_: This looks more and more like a way to dodge the issue and hope we don't request credit.
XXXX_: No you are not - there has been no service to this location Tuesday to Sunday this week.
XXXX_: "We understand that this is frustrating for you and we can assure you that detailed notes have been left on your account to credit you for the time you have been without your services" - is this not correct?
XXXX_: Your system is your problem
XXXX_: Its not mine
XXXX_: If you are unable to do this, please activate a manager
Fred: Okay. I am activating a manager. Just a moment, please.
Fred: Thank you for waiting.
Fred: Thank you for waiting.
Fred: I am communicating with a manager to deal this situation and let you know about credit procedures.
Fred: I will communicate you with the manager right now.
Fred: It has been my pleasure; have a wonderful night!
Fred: Please wait, while the problem is escalated to another analyst
Frank: Hello, my name is Frank, I am the Time Warner Cable's supervisor in charge. Please allow me a moment to review the information from the last chat.
Frank: Hello, I understand that you are dissatisfied with the way we are handling the outage caused by the hurricane, am I correct?
XXXX_: no - I am just trying to get a credit promised to me by the previous analyst
XXXX_: "Fred(Sat Nov 3 22:03:39 EDT 2012)>We understand that this is frustrating for you and we can assure you that detailed notes have been left on your account to credit you for the time you have been without your services. Once the services have been restored we encourage you to call or email us so that we may credit your account for the days the services were out."
Frank: Alright. Here is the situation, if I credit you now for the days without services we would take it as the issue is solved already, are your services working fine now ma'am?
XXXX_: But you can do a manual credit for the days not working to date or reassure me the credit will be automatically processed whether or not I call you when the matter is resolved
Frank: I am sorry to know that.
XXXX_: Refusing do to the credit midway or only doing it contingent on me going through this process on resolution strikes me as a near dishonest way of billing people for services they don't receive
XXXX_: Is this a matter of policy? Would Timewarner be receiving income on thousands of blackout victims for services not provided if they don't rememeber to request the credit?
Frank: Right now we are processing credits for services with services restored because this is the only way in which we can determine the time to credit.
XXXX_: That's Ok but is the process automatic if you restore it without me following up
Frank: I understand your point and I am sure that it will be handled in a special way but at this time we have no notification of the handling of further credits since we are still having many houses being affected.
XXXX_: If not as a matter of policy, you'd be collecting income from blackout victims who don't ask for the credit?
Frank: It is a matter of policy. I am sorry I did not answer your question.
XXXXX_: OK, I will follow up for the credit. Do you have any problem with me mailing this chat transcript to the New York Post. I'm sorry but this is a matter of genuine concern to me.
Frank: Of course, I understand how important money is now a day. I can apply a credit for you since the issue first started on Sunday until today, but we can only apply 1 credit for the same issue.
Frank: And sure I do not have any inconvenience, I will send a copy of this chat to your e-mail address as soon as we are done.
Frank: I am sorry about any inconvenience that we have caused to you XXXXXXX.
XXXXX_: I'm Ok to wait for the credit. The issue is that it appears that as a matter of policy that you currently do not have instructions to apply credits to services not provided during the black out unless you get a request on service resumption. Is this correct?
Frank: This is the way we are handling it at this moment, we have many things to take in consideration and we are receiving updates everyday to handle credits, past due accounts, etc. We are taking in consideration the importance of this matter and we do not want to affect our customers further.
Frank: We are all being affected for this situation and trust me that we are doing our best efforts to solve all the issues including technical and billing issues as well.
XXXXX_: I will follow up for the credit on resumption. Please note the request on the file and the request it be applied automatically if possible.
Frank: Sure, I have suggested this method since seems to be the more reasonable resolution.
Frank: Thank you very much for your comprehension.
So—if you want your money back for however long you were without your precious Big Bang Theory reruns, you better ask for it specifically.