I have recently upgraded modems with Time Warner. As expected, the process was not smooth. Nevertheless, for a company that took three years to replace some waterlogged cables in my building, there were some surprisingly clever bits of customer service.
Initiating the process
One day, out of the blue, my modem reset. This isn’t exactly as rare an event as it should be, but it’s never good. When it finished rebooting, I had some brief trouble accessing the Internet, until Time Warner redirected me to a webpage where they told me that my modem was out of date and took me through the process of ordering a new one.
- This is the first time ever that Time Warner has proactively let me know that my equipment was out of date, rather than waiting until it began to cause problems, and then sending a technician to say, “Oh, this box is really old!”
- The ordering process was remarkably simple, and the new modem showed up in just a few days.
- There has got to be a better way to send push notifications than by unceremoniously turning off my Internet.
Installation and setup
Here’s where it got hinky. I plugged in the modem, which replaces my Wi-Fi router, connected it to the cable line, et voila, I was able to get onto the new modem’s Wi-Fi, sign in to the config page, and change the name and password of the Wi-Fi network.
According to the manual that came with the modem, the next thing that would happen is that I’d get taken to a page to initialize the modem. And I got taken to a page … with a 404.
I went back to my old modem because I was busy and wanted to use the Internet. A few days later I gave it another try, with the same result. I called the dedicated support line for modem installation issues, and through the automated system I was able to ask that the modem be initialized. The call ended, the modem reset, and I was online! I was about to go to Ookla Speedtest
to see how fast my new “ultrafast” modem really was, and then … nothing. I checked the modem, and the Wi-Fi lights were off.
Time to call Time Warner again. After the phone tree and maybe 10 minutes on hold, I spoke to a friendly technician who explained that Wi-Fi was not enabled for my account because my old modem didn’t have any. That makes a certain amount of sense, except that Time Warner knew they were sending me a Wi-Fi modem, right? It seems that part of that process could’ve been enabling my account for Wi-Fi.
Once I got the modem running, it was fast. Like, 100 Mbps fast. Good stuff!
- Time Warner provided a dedicated number for modem issues, making it easier than the usual torture to get through the phone tree. And the initialization process was automated, which was smart.
- Fast Internet!
- The manual said something would come up that didn’t come up.
- Wi-Fi is something that needed to be enabled for my account and wasn’t, and it took a phone call to make that happen.
Fixing the inevitable problem
This morning I was happily using my very fast new modem, when suddenly the thing rebooted. When it came back on, my Wi-Fi network was gone. It had reverted to the default network, which was the serial number on the bottom of the box, and for which I didn’t have the password. Another call, another long wait.
Finally I got a technician, who’d never heard of such a thing happening and quickly passed me on to a supervisor (or, rather, to a period of hold music, followed by a supervisor). The supervisor had also never heard of such a thing, but gave me the password to get me on the modem again, and I was able to get back in and set up my Wi-Fi network with my own name and password.
- The problem was pretty quickly solved.
- I have a brand new product that has done something inexplicable and problematic, and the technicians had never heard of it. Doesn’t exactly build confidence. Hopefully my Wi-Fi network will still be there when I get home, but who knows?
Overall grade: C+
Which, for Time Warner, is a remarkable improvement over every other experience.