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14 Secrets of Time Warner Cable Employees

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With more than 16 million customers in 29 states, Time Warner Cable is one of the nation’s largest internet and cable TV providers. They’re also one of the most maligned, with frequent appearances on consumer polls tracking the worst customer relations experiences. It’s possible that reputation could change after the recently announced merger with Charter Communications, but it's too soon to say. However, we do know that many of the company’s employees really aren’t trying to get on your nerves. Take a look at what a few current and past Time Warner Cable representatives have to say about marathon calls, little-known services, and the one fib they wish you’d stop telling them.

1. THEY’D APPRECIATE IT IF YOU’D STOP LYING TO THEM.

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Evan—like all of the employees we spoke to, he preferred not to use his last name—spent 18 months as a call center representative for Time Warner in Ohio. His number-one customer beef? Your attempts to fool him. “I ran into my share of customers who said they did the troubleshooting steps, but obviously didn’t,” he says. Callers with wireless modem troubles are usually tasked with unplugging the device for 30 seconds to reboot it as a first-line solution. It often works—but people often lie about trying it. “With the tools we use, we can see if it’s been unplugged or how long it’s been down,” Evan says.

2. THEY’RE NOT THE GEEK SQUAD.

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Lloyd, who works for Time Warner in Texas, says customers can sometimes mistake him for an electronics concierge. “It’s common for people to ask for help with sound systems, game consoles, routers, and computers,” he says. “It’s always a little uncomfortable, and I've helped more than I haven't, but it's really not our job. Sometimes while I'm explaining how a sound bar works, I am thinking to myself, 'This is what I am doing instead of having lunch.’ It makes me want to cry, and that is not hyperbole.”

3. THEY CAN HANG UP ON YOU IF YOU’RE A POTTY MOUTH.

Despite assumptions that a call center operator always has to hang in there to resolve a problem, Evan says that’s not quite true. “If you feel uncomfortable because they’re being verbally abusive, you can hang up. You just have to tell the manager, ‘Hey, this is what happened.’” While Evan rarely invoked that right, he did handle plenty of angry customers. “You try to calm people as much as you can.”

4. THEY’RE AFRAID OF BREAKING YOUR STUFF.

Technicians who need access to the backs of televisions, outlets, or coaxial lines can sometimes find themselves challenged by piles of dirty clothes, massive pieces of furniture, or decorative accents. In the case of the latter, employees could find themselves in debt. “Every time a cable guy moves your belongings, he thinks to himself, ‘Is this when I lose my job?’” Lloyd says. “If something breaks, he's financially responsible. I can't simply refuse to move the furniture though, because I literally have to do it to do my job.”

5. TECHNICIANS HAVE A FEUD WITH CALL CENTERS.

According to Tedd—an installer who began working for Time Warner when his local cable company was absorbed by them four years ago—call center reps can create inaccurate expectations for customers. “Customer service reps often try and tell a customer what their problem is and what the tech will have to do when they get there, which is bad,” he says. “If a customer has a TV issue or internet issue and the CSR tells the customer that it’s just 'the box' and it needs to be replaced, then the customer thinks it should be a simple visit.” These mismanaged expectations can create extra irritation.

6. THEY DON’T WANT YOU TO CALL BACK.

According to Evan, call center operators are measured on a variety of metrics: customer service polls, their availability to take inbound calls, and whether they’ve successfully resolved a customer’s issue in a single call. “It’s what they called ‘first resolution,’” he says. “If you fix a problem or send a tech out and the ticket is closed, [management] will look to see if the customer calls back within a week. They wanted as close to 100 percent [of no callbacks] as possible.”

7. THEY WISH YOU’D THROTTLE YOUR EXPECTATIONS.

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According to Tedd, advertised internet speeds are only as good as the equipment they’re being fed through. “So many customers have unrealistic ideas of what their internet should do versus the equipment they have,” he says. “So many people call in for slow speeds, especially now that we have our Maxx speeds, and when they are told they have 300Mbps internet, they expect to see at least 300 on a speed test coming off of an 8-year-old Linksys router.” Most speed issues, he says, aren’t modem-related, but a product of an old, slow router or computer.

8. YES, THEY GET FREE CABLE. JUST NOT FREE EQUIPMENT.

It’s a couch potato’s paradise: all the cable channels you can imagine, plus free internet and phone service. “As employees, we got HBO, all the foreign channels, everything,” Evan says. “But we had to pay to lease the cable box and modem.”

9. WHEN THEY’RE LATE, IT MIGHT BE A CUSTOMER’S FAULT.

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Tedd says appointments can get backed up for a variety of reasons, but one recurring issue is customers using him as a sounding board. “What is really irritating is when people want to just rant about how bad a particular customer service rep was, or how long they have had the problem, or how much they hate Time Warner Cable. I completely understand these issues but there is nothing I can do about it. And honestly, I don’t even mind hearing some complaints, but I cannot tell you how many times I have been late to my next appointment because a customer would not stop complaining about the company.”

10. CALLS CAN LAST A LONG, LONG TIME.

Depending on the issues that came up, Evan took anywhere between 10 and 40 calls per day. There’s no time limit placed on them, which means some calls can take an hour or more to resolve. In one instance, he spent six hours on one customer’s billing hassles. “It was spread over two days,” he says. “And it was a lot of silence, with me doing stuff on the back end.”

11. THEY CAN HELP YOU BLOCK ROBO-CALLS.

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Even though the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) appears powerless to stop companies from auto-dialing residential numbers using “spoof” (fake) numbers, it’s a little-known fact that Time Warner can intervene on your behalf. If you have their digital phone service, you can request they activate Nomorobo, a free program that scans incoming calls to see if the number has been subject to complaint. If it’s on the “naughty” list, it won’t get past one ring on your phone.

12. THEY CAN WIN PRIZES.

Evan’s call center would sometimes get visits from premium channel representatives as a way of boosting employee morale. “There would be teams, and the team who got the highest customer-satisfaction rating in a two-week period would win a Game of Thrones DVD.” Operators could also get a little something if, in addition to resolving your technical issues, they managed to tack on additional service to your account. “That could make us one dollar.”

13. STOP ASKING FOR FREE CABLE. IT’S NOT GONNA HAPPEN.

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Forget about trying to slip your tech a $50 in exchange for unlimited HBO. “It's very hard to give customers free cable because most channels are encrypted and require a cable card,” Tedd says. “People do mention it sometimes but I really couldn’t give away free channels even if I wanted to.”

14. THEY REALLY DO WANT TO HELP.

Despite the endless flow of complaints filed online, all of the employees we spoke to resisted the idea that anyone is actively trying to make your blood pressure rise. “When you're on the internet and in comment sections it looks like everyone hates the cable company and everyone has problems with their service,” Tedd says. “But most of the homes I go to haven’t had issues in years. And most customers seem to generally be pleased with us. The technicians are almost always going to be on your side because we actually do want to fix your issues and leave you happy because that benefits us, too.”

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30 Memorable Quotes from Carrie Fisher
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Just days after suffering a heart attack aboard a flight en route to Los Angeles, beloved actress, author, and screenwriter Carrie Fisher passed away at the age of 60 on December 27, 2016. Though she’ll always be most closely associated with her role as Princess Leia in Star Wars, Fisher’s life was like something out of its own Hollywood movie. Born in Beverly Hills on this day in 1956, Fisher was born into show business royalty as the daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds.

In addition to her work in front of the camera, Fisher built up an impressive resume behind the scenes, too, most notably as a writer; in addition to several memoirs and semi-autobiographical novels, including Wishful Drinking, Surrender the Pink, Delusions of Grandma, The Best Awful, Postcards from the Edge, and The Princess Diarist (which was released last month), she was also an in-demand script doctor who counted Sister Act, Hook, Lethal Weapon 3, and The Wedding Singer among her credits.

Though she struggled with alcoholism, drug addiction, and mental illness, Fisher always maintained a sense of humor—as evidenced by the 30 memorable quotes below.

ON GROWING UP IN HOLLYWOOD

“I am truly a product of Hollywood in-breeding. When two celebrities mate, someone like me is the result.”

“I was born into big celebrity. It could only diminish.”

“At a certain point in my early twenties, my mother started to become worried about my obviously ever-increasing drug ingestion. So she ended up doing what any concerned parent would do. She called Cary Grant.”

“I was street smart, but unfortunately the street was Rodeo Drive.”

“If anything, my mother taught me how to sur-thrive. That's my word for it.”

ON AGING

“As you get older, the pickings get slimmer, but the people don't.”

ON INSTANT GRATIFICATION

“Instant gratification takes too long.”

ON THE LEGACY OF STAR WARS

“People are still asking me if I knew Star Wars was going to be that big of a hit. Yes, we all knew. The only one who didn't know was George.”

“Leia follows me like a vague smell.”

“I signed my likeness away. Every time I look in the mirror, I have to send Lucas a couple of bucks.”

“People see me and they squeal like tropical birds or seals stranded on the beach.”

“You're not really famous until you’re a Pez dispenser.”

ON THE FLEETING NATURE OF SUCCESS

“There is no point at which you can say, 'Well, I'm successful now. I might as well take a nap.'”

ON DEALING WITH MENTAL ILLNESS

“I'm very sane about how crazy I am.”

ON RESENTMENT

“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die."

ON LOVE

“Someone has to stand still for you to love them. My choices are always on the run.”

“I've got to stop getting obsessed with human beings and fall in love with a chair. Chairs have everything human beings have to offer, and less, which is obviously what I need. Less emotional feedback, less warmth, less approval, less patience, and less response. The less the merrier. Chairs it is. I must furnish my heart with feelings for furniture.”

“I don’t hate hardly ever, and when I love, I love for miles and miles. A love so big it should either be outlawed or it should have a capital and its own currency.”

ON EMOTIONS

“The only thing worse than being hurt is everyone knowing that you're hurt.”

ON RELATIONSHIPS

“I envy people who have the capacity to sit with another human being and find them endlessly interesting, I would rather watch TV. Of course this becomes eventually known to the other person.”

ON HOLLYWOOD

“Acting engenders and harbors qualities that are best left way behind in adolescence.”

“You can't find any true closeness in Hollywood, because everybody does the fake closeness so well.”

“It's a man's world and show business is a man's meal, with women generously sprinkled through it like overqualified spice.”

ON FEAR

“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.”

ON LIFE

“I don’t want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.”

“No motive is pure. No one is good or bad-but a hearty mix of both. And sometimes life actually gives to you by taking away.”

“If my life wasn't funny it would just be true, and that is unacceptable.”

“I shot through my twenties like a luminous thread through a dark needle, blazing toward my destination: Nowhere.”

“My life is like a lone, forgotten Q-Tip in the second-to-last drawer.”

ON DEATH

“You know what's funny about death? I mean other than absolutely nothing at all? You'd think we could remember finding out we weren't immortal. Sometimes I see children sobbing at airports and I think, 'Aww. They've just been told.'”

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12 Admissible Facts About Judge Judy
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Judge Judith Sheindlin was 54 years old when her namesake TV show premiered on September 16, 1996. Two years later the diminutive (5’1”) adjudicator was trouncing the powerhouse Oprah Winfrey Show in the Nielsen ratings. Today, she is one of the highest paid TV celebrities, earning $47 million per year—which she will continue to do through 2020, thanks to a new extended contract.

Fervent fans are familiar with Judge Judy’s more outrageous cases, like The Tupperware Lady and the eBay Cell Phone Scammer, but they might not know some of these fun facts about both the show and the woman behind it, who turns 75 years old today.

1. THAT GRUFF, NO-NONSENSE STYLE OF JURISPRUDENCE IS NOT AN ACT.

Judge Judy spent a little over 20 years in New York City’s family court system, where she earned a reputation early in her career for being blunt, impatient, and tough-talking. “I can’t stand stupid, and I can’t stand slow,” was one of her oft-repeated “Judyisms” at that time. She also frequently warned attorneys appearing before her: "I want first-time offenders to think of their appearance in my courtroom as the second-worst experience of their lives ... circumcision being the first." 60 Minutes filmed her in action as part of a 1993 profile, and while her hair color and eyebrows have softened since then, her impatient rants and verbal smackdowns haven’t changed a bit.

2. SHE BEGAN WEARING HER TRADEMARK LACE COLLAR AS SOON AS SHE WAS APPOINTED AS A JUDGE.

New York City Mayor Ed Koch appointed Judith Sheindlin to the bench in 1982, and to celebrate she and her husband Jerry—both civil servants at the time—took a $399 package trip to Greece for two weeks. While passing by a row of street kiosks with various locally made crafts for sale, she impulsively purchased a white lace collar from a vendor. She explained to her husband that male judges wore stiff-collared white dress shirts and colorful neckties that peeped out of the top of their robes, so that they had a nice colorful “buffer” between the austere black gown and their face. Female judges, however, had nothing but neck peeping out of their robes and the unforgiving black color revealed every minute of sleep deprivation as well as any skin tone irregularities. The white lace collar, she decided, would not only perk up her face but would also be a bit disarming for litigants—she could picture them thinking “That nice little lady with the lace collar sitting behind the bench couldn’t hurt a fly!”

3. DESPITE THOSE NEW YORK CITY SCENES ON THE COMMERCIAL BUMPERS, JUDGE JUDY IS TAPED IN CALIFORNIA.

Sheindlin spends 52 days per year taping her show. She flies to California via private jet every other Monday and hears cases on Tuesday and Wednesday (occasionally Thursday if there are production delays). One full week’s worth of shows are filmed each day. Many viewers, however, are fooled into thinking Judy is holding court in her native New York, thanks to the scenic Manhattan footage in between station breaks and the New York state flag behind her chair. That is, until something oh-so-unique to the west coast—like an earthquake—occurs on-camera. (Note that in the clip below, Judge Judy quickly ducks beneath her bench once the room begins to tremble.)

4. SHE IS BRIEFED ON THE CASES BEFORE SHE ARRIVES ON THE SET.

Judge Sheindlin does not go to the studio unprepared; producers FedEx the sworn statements and relevant information on each upcoming case to her home (Naples, Florida in the winter; Greenwich, Connecticut in the spring and summer) and she familiarizes herself with enough details to have some background, but not enough so that the case doesn’t appear “fresh” when she questions the litigants during filming.

5. THE CASES REALLY ARE REAL.

The production company has a staff of 60-plus researchers across the country who spend their days poring over lawsuits filed in local small claims courts. Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, they are able to photocopy cases that they think might make for interesting television and those copies are forwarded to the show’s producers. Any cases that make it to the next stage (about three percent) involve contacting the litigants involved and asking them if they’d like to forego their civil court hearing in exchange for a free trip to Los Angeles, an $850 appearance fee, and a per diem of $40 (as of 2012). An added incentive is that any judgments awarded are paid by the show, not by the plaintiff or defendant. The best cases, according to the executive producer, are those that involve litigants with a prior relationship—mother/daughter, father/son, boyfriend/girlfriend, etc. Such cases engage the audience because it’s an emotional tie that’s been broken (the recurring plot on many soap operas).

6. THE AUDIENCE, HOWEVER, IS NOT SO REAL.

Regular viewers will note that the same faces seem to pop up in the audience regularly. Those folks in the spectator seats are paid extras (often aspiring actors) who earn $8 per hour to sit and look attentive. Prospective audience members apply for the limited amount of seats by emailing their contact information along with a clear headshot to one of Judge Judy’s production coordinators (sorry, we cannot provide that info). If chosen, the spectator must dress appropriately (business casual or better) and arrive promptly for the 8:30 a.m. call time. Audience members must pass through metal detectors on their way in and are not allowed to bring cell phones or any electronic devices with them, and food, drinks and chewing gum are also verboten. Spectators are rearranged after each case so it’s not as obvious that it’s the same group of people, and the most attractive folks are always seated in the front row (it’s Hollywood, after all). The audience is instructed to talk animatedly amongst themselves in between each case so that Officer Byrd’s “Order in the court!” admonition has more impact. Bad behavior is grounds for immediate expulsion (in front of 10 million viewers, as Judge Judy likes to remind us).

7. JUDGE JUDY DRESSES CASUALLY FOR THE JOB.

Sheindlin has been known to publicly chastise litigants who come to her courtroom in skimpy clothing or “beach attire,” but behind that bench and under that robe she is usually sporting jeans and a tank top or T-shirt.

8. OFFICER BYRD IS A REAL BAILIFF.

Brooklyn native Petri Hawkins Byrd earned his B.Sc. degree from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 1989 and started working in the Brooklyn Family Court system. He first worked with Judge Sheindlin when he transferred to the Manhattan Family Court. “We [the court officers] used to call her the Joan Rivers of the judicial system,” he recalled in a 2004 interview. “She was just hilarious.” Byrd relocated to San Mateo, California in 1990 to work as a Special Deputy U.S. Marshal and a few years later he read an item in Liz Smith’s gossip column about Sheindlin’s upcoming TV show. He sent his old colleague a congratulatory letter and added, “If you need a bailiff, I still look good in uniform.”

9. DESPITE HIS SOMETIMES IMPOSING COURTROOM DEMEANOR, OFFICER BYRD IS ALSO A VERY FUNNY GUY.

He is a talented impressionist, but his sense of humor almost cost him his job—or so he thought at the time. Once, back when he was working with the feisty Judge Sheindlin in New York, he donned her robe and reading glasses to entertain his co-workers with a barrage of Judyisms. Of course, as always seems to happen when one mocks the boss in the workplace, he was caught in the act.

10. THE OCCASIONAL CELEBRITY RELIES ON JUDGE JUDY’S BRAND OF JUSTICE.

Depending upon your own definition of “celebrity”, of course. Actress Roz Kelly (Pinky Tuscadero on Happy Days) appeared on the show in 1996 as the plaintiff, suing her plastic surgeon for a leaky breast implant that was impeding her acting career. One year later, former Sex Pistol John Lydon (a.k.a. Johnny Rotten) appeared as a defendant when drummer Robert Williams, who was hired to support Lydon on a solo tour, sued the singer for lost wages and an assault. Despite Lydon’s occasional bad courtroom behavior, the decision was made in his favor.

11. THE STAR ORIGINALLY DIDN’T WANT THE SHOW NAMED AFTER HER.

Sheindlin first envisioned calling her show Hot Bench, a term used frequently in the appellate court, but the producers wisely advised her that the term was meaningless to TV viewers who didn’t work in the legal system. Her next thought was Judy Justice, since she’d overheard her court officers warning deadbeat parents who were delinquent in child support payments that they were in for a load of "Judy Justice" if they weren’t prepared to cough up some money. In retrospect, Sheindlin realized the wisdom in calling the show Judge Judy: She couldn’t be easily replaced, as the various judges had been on The People’s Court. However, after 19 years on the air, she still does not refer to herself by that sobriquet; whether introducing herself to someone or advertising her show in a promotional clip, she is always either “Judge Sheindlin” or “Judge Judy Sheindlin.”

12. JUDGE SHEINDLIN INHERITED HER SENSE OF HUMOR FROM HER FATHER.

Murray Blum, Judy’s beloved father, was a dentist whose office was in the family home. In those days—before sedation dentistry was an option—a dentist’s best tool to distract nervous patients was the gift of gab, and Murray became a master storyteller out of necessity. Years of listening to her father at the dinner table and at family gatherings taught Judy how to deliver a punchline. One evening outside of a hotel in Hollywood, Sheindlin was approached by a woman who introduced herself as Lorna Berle. She told the judge that her husband Milton was a huge fan and asked if she would mind talking to him for a moment. The elderly comic slowly emerged from a limo and Judy greeted him by singing the theme song to Texaco Star Theater, her favorite TV show as a child. Milton Berle complimented her in return, saying “Kid, you’ve got great comic timing.”

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