18 July 2008 @ 01:32 pm
FiOS still working. Internet is good...  
Well, just in case anyone wonders, FiOS is still working two years later after I got it. I can't claim that the fiber cut in my neighbor's yard is their fault, and although my anger with them losing my work order was justified, once they sent some guy out there, it was fixed. The tech spoke English, he knew how to troubleshoot, and he was very polite. They still haven't buried the cable, but I just downloaded a 700mb Linux ISO in 9 minutes, so... somehow it was even faster than before the cut (usually it took 15 or so). And while the oruter they gave me for free died, I was able to slap in my old Linksys, upgrade the firmware (for security), and it's working just fine. How did I know that would work? A tech told me. An *experienced, friendly* tech.

I am still angry at COX. They constantly poke at the wound they left in the form of junk mailers promising me $9.95 for the first three months. I get like 3-5 of those a month. I put them in the paper shredder and imagine all the terrible managers who work at COX feel the blades across their skin every time. I have so much unresolved anger from their lies and incompetence. I had to look up my previous rant, and while I blogged it, nothing compares to the expanded on I wrote on Ars. I sent a copy of this letter to several COX offices once FiOS was installed. No one replied.

Originally posted here:

Dear COX,

When I moved to my new home in 2000, the only game in town was you, COX. It was cable TV only, and that was par for course. I got Bell Atlantic for phone, which was also my dialup. No broadband in my area from anybody. Cable worked well, and despite the phone issues in the house, the friendly BA tech got it all working right by the time we moved in.

In 2002, COX forced everyone to "upgrade" to digital in our neighborhood. On the plus side, this meant a lot more cable TV channels, On Demand Viewing, and "High Speed Internet." On the down side, prices nearly doubled for all services. Bell Atlantic, now Verizon, offered DSL, but the speeds were low (128k) and unreliable. When COX came to my house, they hooked me up with digital cable on three TVs and broadband.

And thus began the slow decline.

It took you two visits to get the cable TV to work. One of the techs had this novel approach of "reboot over and over until it works," which it didn't, and he seemed desperate, as if this was his only trick. Then you made us swap out several boxes, which involved visits to your customer center, open during business hours only, which meant my wife had to take off from work. This didn't fix it, either, which we kept telling you because we had. Finally, you realized it was a problem up the line, which you fixed... but some channels came in fuzzy. Not just the normal fuzzy, but the pixelated stuttered fuzzy I had only seen with bad satellite TV on top of trailers. I considered it ironic that you touted how much better digital cable was to TV, using fuzzy, pixelated images as an example for satellite. How funny the cable did this during one of those commercials. Ha ha.

One TV, in particular, had a bad problem; our large projection screen TV. The 3rd or 4th tech that came out (and we lost count, there have been so many) said it was our "bad" TV set. We pointed out that the DVD and VCR worked fine, and your tech told us, for some reason, that was because all the brand were Toshiba, and Toshiba doesn't work with non-Toshiba brands because they are Korean. I did not correct the man, who spoke a form of English that was poor and filled with anger, but said that our previous "non-digital" cable worked with the same TV. The next tech said the previous tech was an idiot. This must be a standard response, because many of the techs that have come and gone have used this as an explanation of the previous tech's mistakes. This was to lay the foundation for our relationship with COX.

"The previous guy was an idiot."

Finally, you got a set top box to work on our downstairs TV, although the signal for the TV Guide comes and goes with alarming frequency. The upstairs TV does the same thing with higher channels, and didn't stop even when you upgraded us to a DVR. We have swapped DVRs a few times, too. The first one didn't even boot. The second one booted, but never got a signal. The third one worked, but then died suddenly one day. We are on the forth one in less than 3 years. We find if it's been turned off (and it turns itself off at 1:50am in the morning), the reception is terrible until it's been on for a few hours. Channel will "wink out," and if it does this while looking at the TV Guide, it will crash the box. Over the years, we have found that when a channel "winks out," we can often bring it back by changing channels and then changing back. Or, if in DVR mode, it will come by by hitting "rewind." If we do this, we find the signal goes dead, but the audio works, but then it will come back on its own without changing channels. This is such a frequent problem, that we watch almost all TV in DVR mode. Some days, though, no upper channels for hours no matter what we do. You have replaced the box and put in a booster, but they fact that the problem gets better the longer the box is on, like it needs to "warm up," does not speak of a signal problem. Did I mention that the DVR randomly stops recording programs? Yeah. It does. Very annoying. It doesn't do it all the time, there's no set channel or program it does this to, and the schedule is still listed... but it does not record. Not very friendly. Basically, your boxes are shit, and I have a collection of work tickets to prove this.

Not to mention you NEVER got the TV to work in the guest room to work AT all. But you did refund our money, so I should be all fat an happy, shouldn't I? After all, I eventually got phone with you, and my $150 monthly phone bills went down to $64. Yippee.

Cable Internet. Wow, you know, for about 2 years, I couldn't complain. Not the 1.5mbs you promised, but I am not fussy. I only download a Linux ISO here and there, see a few trailers, and maybe download a few funny AVIs. I don't swap files, warez, or have online video streaming subscriptions. I did notice my average download speed was 600-700kbps max, but hey, that's why your ad says "up to," right? What do I care, as long as I can read Ars or something. At least 128kpbs is faster than dialup.

Now that we know we have signal issues and hardware issues... let's get to the crux of your problem. With only a few exceptions, almost all your techs are complete morons. While I think a lot of them are simply poorly trained, and could be great techs someday, there are far too many who lack common sense that God gave a goose. And not just because the tech that followed them, or even their supervisor, said they were morons. Oh no, the truthfulness of this statement was evident by their work practices. Let me tell you the DAMAGE you have done to my house in the last six years.

You drill a lot of holes which you do not fill. In my attic, in my ceiling, and only half of which actually have wires going through them. Your holes have ruined my siding, lets bugs and rain in, all shorts of shit. And when I complain, you send some chimp out with a fucking caulk gun who leaves a wad about the size of a silver dollar around a hole the size of a drill bit. Can I mention how much of my vinyl siding you have ruined? You can't just drill through it from the inside out. I had to have all that shit repaired, you asshats.

You have the sloppiest wiring jobs I have seen... ever. I have coax cable from you with sharp silver hairs sticking out of them that cut my fingers when I have to unscrew them from my TV. You never do anything behind walls, even if the cabling was already there. And when you do come across cabling behind the walls, you fucking yank it out, or mash the plates and boxes into the drywall. Un-fucking-believable! When you hooked up my phone, you fucked up my phone wiring so bad, it doesn't work on the left side of my house anymore. You have also fucked up my power on that side, and some outlets don't work anymore. You know how fucking expensive that's going to be to fix, you cox-suckers? Not to mention ripping out the drywall. Not to mention I have to replace wallpaper on that side of the house because it's an older pattern that had no match. And the cables outside the house just lie around in lose coils, unshielded and lying over bushes and my deck like a small child who had put away a garden hose. Your techs dug up my yard and then left the cable lying on to of the fucking ground anyway. What the fuck, man? I had to bury the damn line myself.

The cable dome in my back yard? Uncovered. The connection box on the side of my house? Cockeyed and uncovered. Connection joints? Exposed to the elements. Most of these fixes I made myself, because your techs are so bad, and each time the break something else, I had to read a lot of "how to" to fix my outdoor cable connections. In my research, I find you use a lot of cable and adapters "not rated for outdoor use." Where? Outdoors. When I had my new deck installed, they were appalled at the wiring job. They used this example to their own workers how NOT to set up wiring. When Verizon was laying down FIOS, they laughed and shook their head. They said that was really normal from what they saw around here, and handed me a FIOS packet, with some dates that FIOS would get turned on.

Your fucking apes tore out half my attic insulation and didn't put it back. I got ripped up sheets of pink insulation all over my attic and the stuff I stored there. Are you fucking animals? Not to mention leaving my doors open and leaving without saying your done or goodbye or you couldn't fix it. We have had to call you guys back many times because it seems some techs just decide to walk away, leave my doors wide open, and drive off. Did he fix it? Is he coming back? Will he bring back a translator?

You leave tools behind. You doubled my screwdriver collection, added a few hammers, a coax cutter, yards of cable scraps, several hex wrenches, a belt, strap wrench, and just a lot of steel burrs as you replace the same wiring the previous guy replaced not a few months ago, only your job is even shittier.

When asked, I used to explain that a bunch of drunken chimps and toddlers attacked my wiring, but then I felt bad slamming drunks, chimps, and toddlers, because even they have standards.

Oh yeah, the last few visits, the guys didn't even speak passable English, and I was lucky if one of them was a translator. I'd ask questions, and I'd get a blank stare, and maybe an soft embarrassed chuckle and a shake of the head, indicating he didn't even know why HE was here, much less what I just asked him. I got no problem with immigrants, mind you, my grandparents were immigrants, but at least they knew their job and at least they weren't put in any customer-facing job until they learned English. I don't even think most of these guys are stupid. You want to know what I really think? I think they are poorly trained by cheap-assed managers who don't give a shit and hire employees in bulk for the cheapest warm body they can get away with hiring. I fully believe COX uses these poor individuals in a minimal-wage induced borderline slave labor, taking advantage of their meekness and lack of language skills to send out like expendable pawns to people's houses. This is wrong, and you are BAD PEOPLE, COX, for taking advantage of immigrants in this manner. Shame on you. And you know what? The children of these immigrants will be running this country in 30-40 years, and I hope their kids going into the nursing homes you are eventually left in, and kill you in your sleep with a slow and painful, nerve-shredding poison.

Let's talk about your tech scheduling. Some never showed up at all, but said they did, so when I called to find out what happened, they had closed the work order as "nothing found" or "customer did not answer door." I stayed at HOME for you, and you NEVER showed up. One claimed they rang the doorbell twice, which is an obvious lie, because I HAVE NO DOORBELL!! I have two hyper dogs that bark at the slightest sound or the sight of someone in our yard, and yet they never barked, and I never saw you.

Your customer phone service? Idiots. Your level one folks know so little about technology or networking, I am surprised you trained them to pick up a phone. I get people like "Luwanda" who explains, while cracking gum, that your connection issues are related to my browser settings in Outlook. "Check my browser settings" when the modem doesn't get signal? I often have to have my problems escalated to level two support, and I get people who seem so angry I have found them, that they use passive aggressive tones, patronization, and general angst toward their working environment. Not to mention transfers that end up in dead space. Being on hold with level twos for an hour, only to get hung up on. One guy even told me he was going to quit by the end of the week, and suggested I move to where COX has no service, like he was going to do. Now that's confidence!

Let's talk about PIN numbers. In 2000, you had no PIN numbers. Then in 2002, you sent out some mailing that said we needed one, and the default was the last 4 digits of our SSN. Then you said the default was 0000. Then you made us choose one. Then you made my wife choose another one. When I call, most of the time, NONE of these FUCKING PIN NUMBERS WORK!!! Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. Why I NEED a PIN to get you to fix an outage is beyond me, and beyond them as well, because I am sure if it's off their script, they are totally lost. Oh, and I know you're going to give me hell when I cancel the service. You're going to claim our SSN number are wrong or something. Unlucky for you, I know lawyers.

Once, you forced me to replace my modem. At a cost of $90 which I never got repaid, I replaced my modem, only to find out... IT WAS YOUR FUCKING NETWORK AGAIN!!! How tricked I was to believe "maybe all these dropped connections are my modem." No. It was you all along. Not only this, but I had to "re-authenticate" this new modem, which took a day and a half to get it to work because... the network wasn't working! So what do they suggest? Yet another tech. More damage to my poor house ensued, and this time, I don't have a cable connection to a wall plate... no, I have wires going up my attic through a rectangular hole in the wall where a wall plate and box USED to be. Fantastic.

And yet I stayed. I endured the abuse, because you had no competition. You sent out tech after tech after lice-picking tech. Each one was dumber than the last. Each one did a little more damage to my house. Each one spoke less English. I bitched and ranted, and even got a month's refund. But the problems just keep happening now, and I can't get anyone to diagnose what's wrong with your network. They always want to send a tech out.

When FIOS came to my neighborhood, I wondered if they were any better. I had worked with Verizon at work, and I found their techs to be rather poor as well. But I went up and down the street, and asked neighbors what they thought. Want to know what I saw and heard? Satellite. They may do poorly in bad weather, but at least the owners know why. What's your excuse?

You had your chance. And you know what?

You're fired. FIRED FIRED FIRED!!!

Don't try to swoon me, don't try and give me refunds, or say how sorry you are, or tell me any more lies. You simply don't work. I am terminating all services with you because I don't know if you even care or you really are at a loss why my system doesn't work, and I am not sure which is worse. Yeah, you once worked. If fact, from 2002-2004, I barely had any problems with COX Internet; it was almost flawless. But once the tides started to turn, tech support was next to useless. And the TV in the upstairs still does not work, and I wouldn't know if the TV in the guest room works at all. I bet your techs ruined that connection like they ruined the wiring on the left side of my house.

We have your damn cable boxes and remotes. While I would like to shove them up your ass while forcing your mom to watch to show what a bad boy you grew up to be, I don't think any one person in your company could even closely represent the hatred I have to my business relationship with you as a whole. You're not a collection of bad people; you're a bad collection of people.

Last Friday, Verizon came to my house. A guy named Mitchell, who worked hard in the heat without complaint, refused offers of Gatorade from my fridge because he had his own, and though he was covered with sweat and dirt, hooked up FIOS to my house. He did a good job, too. Where he drilled holes, he sealed it with silicone glue. The inside walls he spackled and smoothed over. All wires are clipped to the walls, run parallel to my siding, or buried. It's a nicer wiring job than I could have done. He even cleaned up your hanging shit. He knew his stuff, understood my technical competency, and answered my questions truthfully. He told me what he was doing when I asked, and when he was done, he completely cleaned up the work area.

I mean, it was like your exact opposite. And when people ask me why I switched to FIOS, I will repeat what I learned from you:

"The previous guy? Oh, he was an IDIOT!"

Signed,
Punk Walrus
Former COX Customer

PS: I hate you. You are a bad, bad man.
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( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Royce Day: Chickenjeriendhal on July 18th, 2008 06:32 pm (UTC)
So, you're saying there was room for improvement?

Ducks.

Fortunately I never had to deal with Cox. We got cable and internet from Comcast until Verizon came to the neighborhood and enchanted us with magic fairy dust, offered us triple the cable channels at about 2/3rds of what we were paying around then. And I agree that Verizon's techs are competent and uncomplaining. Certainly after they had to replace some cabling in the back of my basement, near the cat boxes, they practically deserved a medal.
DP Twisteddptwisted on July 18th, 2008 09:51 pm (UTC)
And yet, Cox were technical geniuses when compared to Adelphia.
uurdalauurdala on July 21st, 2008 01:21 am (UTC)
I have no words that can adequately express the sense of utter disgust and loathing I feel as a COX Cable customer. My experience of them is parallel to yours. Their techs are dikut'la sha'buire. Their management are hostile, rude, patronizing chakaare. Their service is unacceptable. And now that Verizon has FINALLY buried cable in our neighborhood, we'll be switching too.
maugornmaugorn on July 21st, 2008 08:01 pm (UTC)
Bravo!

Kudos for writing, and double points for sending it and triple points for posting it.

I like the "good cop/bad cop" approach of alternating eloquent outrage with frothing invective.

This letter is a masterpiece and I applaud you.

Have you sent a copy of this to the people in Fairfax County who's job it is to grant contracts to people like Cox?
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )