North County cable subscribers find Internet, e-mail service troublesomehttp://www.nctimes.com/articles/2006...3710_16_06.txt
By: BARBARA HENRY - Staff Writer
CARLSBAD -- North County residents who get their Internet service through a Time Warner Cable affiliate discovered over the weekend that they couldn't search the Web and couldn't receive or send e-mails.
The Internet-access problem hit some 500 subscribers in the Carlsbad region. The e-mail troubles, the result of a power outage in Pennsylvania, bedeviled people nationwide, a company official said Monday.
Local customers had trouble reaching anyone they could complain to because the trouble occurred on the same weekend Time Warner picked to make changes to its local customer service center. The result was that frustrated cable subscribers called Carlsbad City Hall and the North County Times.
"We've received a fair of complaints ---- more than 20 complaints," Joe Garuba, who handles Carlsbad's contract with Time Warner, said Monday afternoon.
For cable subscriber Judy White of La Costa, the problems began Saturday when nothing associated with her Internet service worked.
"Today is e-mail," she said late Monday afternoon. "I have five e-mail accounts and none of them can be used. The most annoying part is there is no phone number to get information ... There's no way to get through. I've tried all day."
When she did reach someone, she said she was told to send an e-mail complaint. She said she reminded the representative that the reason she was calling was because her e-mails weren't working, adding that at that point she was really frustrated.
She is among the 70,000 former Adelphia Communications cable subscribers ---- there are roughly 30,000 in Carlsbad as well as 2,000 to 10,000 in parts of Del Mar, Encinitas, Fallbrook, Rancho Santa Fe, San Marcos, Solana Beach and Vista ---- who now pay their bills to Time Warner. Last summer, Time Warner purchased the bankrupt Adelphia Communications, which repeatedly had received extremely low marks in customer satisfaction surveys conducted by the city of Carlsbad.
"People were pretty abused by Adelphia, and Time Warner was supposed to be the white horse (riding in to save the area)," White said, adding that she's not impressed so far.
Her problems and others like them are all nearly over, promised Marc Farrar, vice president of public affairs for Time Warner Cable's San Diego division. By the time people wake up this morning, the e-mail situation should be fixed, he said.
The troubles are partly related to the ownership transfer with Adelphia Communications. As part of the transfer, Adelphia's old Internet subscribers now are being hooked into Time Warner's Road Runner Internet service, Farrar said.
That process started last weekend and some 500 cable modems in the Carlsbad area didn't link up properly during the transfer, he said. The company now is accessing each subscriber's account one-by-one and rebooting the modems, he said.
By late Monday afternoon, about 100 of the 500 customers remained without service, and that problem was expected to be "completely eliminated" by late Monday night, Farrar said.
Meanwhile, the e-mail issue should be resolved by the time customers wake up this morning, he said. It's the result of a power outage at Adelphia's corporate headquarters in Pennsylvania, he added.
"Nationwide, all of the Adelphia customers could not access their e-mail," he said. "Because of that outage there is e-mail from all over the country that has to be processed ... there's a backlog that those computers are getting through as we speak."
He added that customers will receive all their e-mails ---- they're just delayed.
If people have problems with their Internet and cable service, the company's call center is now ready to handle them, though the callers may get busy signals right now, he said. Contact (760) 707-1000 for assistance.
One Carlsbad staff member just wishes someone from Time Warner had contacted the city before the weekend work began.
The city had asked to be notified before Time Warner started switching over Internet customers, Garuba said. That way Carlsbad wouldn't find itself in the situation it is now ---- suddenly answering complaint calls without knowing what the company was up to, he said.
The city cares about the happiness of local cable subscribers because it is worth money to it. Cable companies must sign franchise agreements with communities and pay a fee to use the public street right of ways where the cable lines run. In Carlsbad's case, the fee generated about $1 million last year, according to city records.
Though cities only have control over the cable service and not Internet under federal law, Carlsbad isn't happy about the current problems with Time Warner, Garuba said.
The situation brings back memories of some five years ago when Adelphia's Internet service At Home went bankrupt, stranding stock market day-trading enthusiasts for several weeks. Hundreds of people called City Hall, Garuba recalled.
"It was so painful, (the notification issue) was a point of discussion in our discussions with Time Warner," he said.
-- Contact staff writer Barbara Henry at (760) 901-4072 or firstname.lastname@example.org