Cox Communications: The Douche Canoe Strikes Back

Cox Communications

[Caution: Rant Zone]

It’s official. Cox Communications is the worst cable company we’ve ever had. They actually beat Charter, and that’s a tough battle. As posted previously on this blog, we tried to scale back some of their price gouging (apartments, amirite?) and after two years of service were treated to an endless list of horrors that would become us for dropping some of our services by their delightful customer service rep. These included, and were not limited to, cancellation fees, a loss of 911 services via our phone, etc. So we cancelled all but our two most basic packages: broadcast cable and low-speed internet.

To put things into perspective, the cost of their broadcast is only 10 dollars less than what Direct TV charges for a full cable package, but since we live in an apartment complex satellite is not an option. Nor is actual broadcast. Believe me, we tried. Because shortly after scaling back from the $170 dollars a month to a more recession-affordable $40, the good folks at Cox decided to slam us with a “trap” fee. Two trap fees actually, totaling in $60 extra dollars on our bill. When I called to complain, I was informed that a “trap” fee is a standard Cox fee added when a subscriber downgrades from cable to broadcast. Essentially, the customer pays so that Cox Communications can put a “trap” on their cable which prevents them from getting all of the channels but broadcast. I will repeat that, just in case you think you misread it. Cox Communications charges their customers to NOT HAVE channels. And in our case, the geniuses at Cox slammed us with it twice because Cox Communications apparently hires dyslexic people who lack basic adding skills. When the customer service rep refused to have this fee removed, I found a simple solution: we’ll just cancel the broadcast package, there… now you we don’t need a “trap” anymore. Simple enough, eh?

Its incredible how many times Cox Communications has tried to be clever but ended up backfiring on themselves. When we wanted to downgrade our internet from the 3Gb we weren’t receiving, the douchebag of a rep told me that their “economy package” was “horribly slow”, which is one hell of a way to pitch your own product. Keep in mind that with a broadcast package we were already paying for something most people get for free, and these greedy little shitheels could have retained that money as well had they not started pulling out “trap” fees and cancellation costs. So we cancelled all but their self-described “horribly slow” internet. Go Cox.

However, our apartment manager convinced us that we were probably dealing with the bureaucracy of their system, and that if we contacted one of their area reps we could probably work out some kind of an arrangement (one better than the 3-month discount we were offered when we called to cancel). We were given a business card for a gentleman who manages the accounts for large-scale setups. Keep in mind, this is not a Cox Communications customer service rep, this is a salaried employee. So we gave him a call. And another call. And another. Then sent him an email. And then some more emails. And after three weeks, received what we’ve come to expect from Cox Communications which is absolutely nothing. No response.

It takes a little while to wean yourself off television, but once you go a month without you find you don’t miss it that much except on Sundays during Broncos season. Internet on the other hand is a different matter. This evening at precisely 5:00PM our internet stopped working. There was no connection. Assuming some jackass at Cox finally got around to switching off the actual cable and in turn yanked our internet, I called Cox Customer Support (which as we know is a huge mistake). I spent roughly 20 minutes trouble-shooting the problem with solutions I had already tried myself, unplugging the modem, etc. And when these proved pointless I was told it was probably a damaged splitter running from the wall to the modem. Aha! I exclaimed. I have a spare. So I tried it and… nothing. I guess it wasn’t the splitter.

“Is it possible,” I asked, “That considering the splitter breaks apart the line from the cable AND the internet that both could have been shut off? Isn’t it a little strange we lost our internet precisely at 5:00PM and not some arbitrary time?”

(Silence. Crickets chirping)

The solution, of course, is that a technician will need to be sent tomorrow, I’ll need to find time off work to wait for him, and… are you ready for this? We could get charged for them coming out to make the repair! Brilliant! Now I may be dense, but if I had to guess, the problem will lie in the cable being shut off in tandem with the internet. Considering how adamant the Cox Communication rep was that this could not be the case, I’ve decided to turn this rant into a sort of fun little challenge.

Cox Communications, I know you’ve read this blog because you commented on my last post. So here’s the deal. I have already contacted The Consumerist, The Better Business Bureau, as well as my old editor at the Orange County Register and a veritable grab bag of other blogs and media outlets… and believe me, as a writer these are the kinds of mediums in which bitter, broke-ass chain smokers with an axe to grind and good documentation flourish. So if your tech comes out tomorrow and the problem is, as I believe, the result of your own greed or stupid incompetence, I’m going to provide the requested information to each of these fine media outlets including the pleasant little tidbit regarding your threat of discontinued 911 service (I’m sure they’ll get a kick out of that!).

Believe me, I’m not bluffing. I’ll do it because it doesn’t mean anything for me to do. It takes all of twenty minutes to hammer out 500 words on how a godless corporation seeks to rip off its long-term customers in challenging economic environments (at least that’s how long it took to get printed in The Los Angeles Times back in ’03). Like I said, I’m doing all of this because it means nothing to me but a few cheap laughs and something to write about.

What do you guys think? Will Cox Communications not bungle this one like they have so many times in the past? Will Batman make it in time to save the Boy Wonder from the evil clutches of the Cox Corporation? Will my internet start working again or will I need to flush the last lingering nugget of shit that is Cox Communications down the toilet once and for all and switch to AT&T?

Freedom o’ speech. She beautiful!

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11 thoughts on “Cox Communications: The Douche Canoe Strikes Back

  1. Holy shit on a shingle! How have you put up with all this stuff and not switched to AT&T already? I was in a situation not long ago where we literally only had one option (our apartment complex management had signed some kind of exclusive “screw our tenants” deal). After getting out of that cable TV Pelican Bay, I was happy to have some amount of choice.

    Have you had worse experiences in the past with AT&T? Some other reason not to switch?

  2. ALSO: Douche Canoe???? Love it. I wrote an entire paragraph in my post yesterday on my love of variations on the term “douche.” This is an amazing one. Bravo.

  3. Sadly, there was a time when Cox Communications provided decent customer care with mediocre prices. I would talk to supervisors to praise how pleasant their reps were to deal with.

    They’re more machine than man now. Twisted and evil.

    Tania… I have a bag of douche-isms I’ll sprinkle on your blog 🙂

  4. haha oh man. Cable companies are the worst. Always looking for things to charge. I have a feeling that if I get set up on a sweet monthly deal, and never contact them again, everything runs perfectly. Once they’re contacted they start looking at your account and start f’n stuff up.

    Just recently I was told Charter no long allowed outside cable boxes not rented from them. So my roommate got boned there, and is now renting another cable box, which involved a guy coming out to install. And this happened right after I moved the the apt next door and discussed a minor address change with Charter. That too required a tech to come out, even though everything worked. The tech was here for 10 minutes.

    But the my worst experience was with Comcast up in Fresno. Sting operation on my college apartments. They found 2 illegal black boxes. And my name was on the account. So who did they come to with a $9500 settlement fee. Me. For a 20 year old that was rough to take in. Luckily i worked it out and was cooperative, and after my roommates and I paid the first $500, we never heard from them again. Guess they happy to get just that from college students without making too much of a racket. I don’t think I will be signing up for any Comcast services in the future, just out of fear it could come creeping back.

  5. Trap fees: those RF traps that are put on the line to block specific sections of the spectrum cost money. Cox is actually being honest by putting them on your bill. Every cable company charges for them, they have to, but they don’t usually itemize it.

    Total shutoff: there is a trap that is supposed to go on for Internet only that blocks everything else. The in-house techs know the difference. The contractors frequently do not. Most traps are one of three sizes. The Internet only traps are often without a colored band and the same size as other more common traps. They probably put the wrong one in.

    I have Cox Cable and other than their no news is good news policy of telling the customers absolutely nothing of substance or value, I’m happy. I have 15×2 that bursts to 30×8 and barely touch it most days but when I do I can get an entire DVD of content down in nothing flat.

    Believe me, I understand your anger, but a little learning and you’re ahead of the cable company in an instant.

    Don’t think satellite is a panacea. I installed not only cable but both DirecTV and Dish Network. They don’t tell you about line of sight, the need for property owners to give written permission for installation (even though federal law bars landlords from preventing you from having satellite), or the limitations of their DVRs and wiring needs. It is ridiculously easy to have coax in an MDU ready with switches and splitters and so forth to handle any of them. Most landlords simply don’t grasp the low cost and ease of doing it as it applies to making their rentals more attractive.

    Sad, but that’s how it is.

    Lastly, don’t think AT&T Uverse is any better. It’s video over DSL. I repeat, DSL. That’s the same copper two wire technology as your phone. If they say it is fiber to near you, so is cable fiber to a node within a quarter mile of your home.

    Oops, almost forgot. 911 with cable telephone is e911 in most cases due to it being voice over IP and not the old type of cable telephony which handed off at the local phone company central office. It sucks, but it is the same with Vonage and other VoIP providers. If that’s the future, you better get used to it because the phone company has every intention of 86ing the old POTS set-up.

  6. I just noticed a Trap Installation charge of $30 on my bill after cancelling cable service with Cox. They attempted to retain me as a client but did not compare to Direct T.V.’s prices. I did end up keeping my phone & internet service with them after a horrible experience just trying to get AT&T installed. (I cancelled with AT&T phone & Internet before they even made it to installation.) The Cox representative explained and tried to justify the one time trap fee. I advised I was not informed of this fee in advance. I also insisted that I REFUSE to pay to cancel my cable service. I demanded they remove the charge. The Rep placed me on hold for several minutes, she did end up removing the trap installation fee. How is that even legal? $30 for a trap installation because they don’t want me to see their channels, I returned the cable boxes and the reception with a cable box was horrible enough…. I can’t imagine any channels would come through if I tried without one anyway. I have Direct TV now and I have been very happy with their service so far. It has been 2 months. Good Luck, and fight against those ridiculous fees!!

  7. Yep I pay and I pay, and somehow I always owe more than I expected and can’t seem to catch up with the bill so I cancelled as many services as I could and I am paying my last bill that is more than what it should be. After this I am going to watch it very closely and finally get it straight or get it all shut off. I find it extremely frustrating that when they obviously accidentally turned off my tv service that they said it could possibly cost me money for them to figure out what was wrong…bye bye tv service.

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