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RVB's Market Musings

What began here as an avenue to interact and learn has far exceeded those goals.

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A Story on CHTR - Returning my Cable Modem

On Friday, I had to return my cable modem to the local Charter Communications (CHTR) office.

One look at a chart of CHTR is pretty telling. The stock is currently at $1.14 - down over $4 from it's 5 year high around $5.50. The company hasn't made a penny in over 20 years.

I don't know much about this business, but I do know this - my own eyes and ears were not impressed with the customer service operation last Friday. Some places just have a knack at creating work environments that are unfriendly and hostile. And then contempt sets into the worker's minds - there's nothing the employees can do - it's just "how it is" -> that's the culture. It's not god awful wherein people don't stay in their jobs. Let's face it, as Thoreau once said, "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."

Back to the story. 5pm on a Friday. Semi-long line. The counter people don't want to be there, and the people in line don't want to be there. So, what you have is an unpleasant situation to begin with. Let's call this the lighter fluid on the fire.

A man towards the end of the line (right in front of me) decided that it made no sense to wait - after all he was simply there to drop off his digital cable box. So he, creatively I might add, set it on a desk adjacent to the counter people with his name and some other information. As he approached the door, one worker noticed what he'd done and forcefully informed him that this was not a good idea. Charter's policy is that he MUST have a receipt and that there's no guarantee that he won't be billed for not returning this equipment because it may somehow go unreturned.

Last time I checked, it's not good to yell at customers, right? Ok, well, he's no longer a customer anyhow.

Furthermore, I thought to myself further...why do we need a receipt? Who in their right mind would steal a digital cable box, other than to perhaps give it the beating that the Office Space characters gave their famous "PC Load Letter" printer. The box can't work anywhere. Something seemingly so simple as returning equipment could be done with not THREE counter workers, but one, or a part time person, right? Why do they have this policy? Because "it's always been there?"

It gets worse. The counter worker continually reminded each and every subsequent person that stepped in the door that this was just not good. Something was seriously breaking down her (and Charter's) paradigm. It's not her fault - she's just doing her job. My guess is they have a morale problem and it's infected the company.

Dangerous stuff. Almost impossible to cure.

Three minutes later the man returned with his cell phone to take a picture of the equipment lying on Charter's desk. Like I said - pretty creative.


At June 29, 2006 6:57 AM, Anonymous jritzema said...

When I dropped off my cable modem at Time Warner last year, it was a great environment and no wait, but alas Time Warner has other non-cable businesses like AOL dragging it down.

At July 16, 2006 6:04 PM, Blogger rvb1977 said...

Yep. I always wanted to own Time Warner but couldn't cuz it came with the crap.


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