Review by DHRacer
Good "HSI and Phone work great"
- Location: Lake Arrowhead,San Bernardino,CA
- Cost: $70 per month
- Install: about 1 days
Bad "Charter TV SUCKS, SUCKS, SUCKS"
Overall "Charter is trying hard and I'll reward them for it by being a customer"
|Pre Sales information:|
Value for money:
(ratings match consensus)
I was a VZ DSL customer for 7 years until I just moved to an area not served yet by any VZ broadband. So Charter is the only game in town. They didn't get off to good start after I noticed they don't post prices on their website like VZ does, and when you call in, every pre-sales person gives different prices, which is startling. You have to "fight/haggle" your way to a good deal instead of just getting it. Though I will say they try and placate you by claiming you are not in any sort of contract.
I guess you can say I was spoiled by VZ DSL since they offer reasonable uploads, even if the downloads aren't what cable can do. Also DSL is the same speed any hour of the day. And the pricing is much, much better than cable. Though since Charter is totally uncontested where I am now, that might change if VZ ever decides to compete here.
Also, it gets me that you have to rent the modem or buy one. If cable was cheaper, I could see doing this, but they are not. So it is even more money than DSL. That is why the "value for the money" is low because it is not equivalent in my eyes as far as what you get for your money and what I was getting with DSL.
So, why did I get the 10 down? Simple, I wanted at least 768 up for working from home and I could not get that with the two lesser tiers of Charter. So I really had no choice if I wanted good uploads with cable. Now I will see how my service upload feels once I get it and if I think I can get away with a lesser upload, I may try downgrading to the 5/512 package instead.
Now, I fully researched my location when I was getting ready to move and I knew Charter was the only game in town. A friend has charter cable and he likes it a lot, so I'm hoping his service with Charter and mine are the same.
Their install window is from 1 to 5, so we will see if they can keep it and not come before or after the proscribed window and miss me. We shall see!
Charter met the install window at like 3:30. The tech was helpful, knowledgeable and friendly... Of course he didn't have much to do since the TV, computers and phones we were going to be using were still in the moving truck! But he managed to test and verify equipment functionality as it was.
He also left a few info bundles on how to use our telephone services, and all about the Charter Cable services. He even left instructions on how to set up the cable box once we got the TV in place. As an aside, TV quality is not the same as DTV. It's worse, in my opinion. Plus the channels numberings are asinine
Well I got my router and WAP put in place and plugged in so I could open up a laptop and see if I could see if the internet worked. Over a WAP, I was getting downloads of about 5M down and 1M up. Clearly half my package speed of 10M down, but up was where it should be. It should be noted that I was running G Wireless and link condition was Excellent so the WAP wasn't throttling the connection.
I called Charter Tech Support, and I got a lady who first couldn't find my account info, secondly could do no more than verify that I indeed had 10M down service on my account, and could not understand why I was complaining about getting half of the rated speed. I kept telling her I was paying for 10M down, getting 5M down. She would then say yes, you have 10M down in your account, what's the problem? She eventually put me on hold and never came back, so I will try again later. And I will run more speed tests this week, and run some with my desktop system on a wire to the router...
All in all: Telephone works, Cable TV works but not as good as DTV, and Cable Internet is acceptable now, but needs work. And I hope that tech support for Cable Internet is not as bad as the first lady I got.
Update 6/12/07: After some research on this forum and others, I discovered that my 5M down speeds are all due to being throttled by my old NetGear FVS318v1 (the 10Mbps WAN port apparently isn't) and that I will need to find a replacement with more bandwidth WAN-to-LAN to probably solve this problem, and that Charter is most likely giving me full speeds but I'll never see it until I swap this out. However, directly connecting a laptop to the modem and running a speed test shows full speeds, so it's definately the Netgear slowing me down. Arg. Buy a new router or downgrade my service...? Updates to follow.
Update: 8/9/07: After researching SFF PC-based routers and being unsuccessful, I researched and bought a NetGear FVS338 with a 100Mbps WAN port. I get full 10+ speeds now like I should be. (And why'd I get the FVS338? Well I needed VPN functionality, too, so that's why the replacement router is heavy duty.) That is the last remaining issue I had with Charter's 10M service. So far, it's been good, speedy and no problems so far, I'm re-rating Charter a little higher for delivering what I pay for.
After surviving the Grass Valley Fire, all my Charter services were down for almost a month while Edison and other contractors replaced the power poles that burned, and then Charter's contractors had to restring and load balance most of the neighborhood. All services (TV, Internet and Phone) were restored around Thanksgiving (all the more to give Thanks for), and the Internet connection has been rock solid since at full speeds (though I will say I do feel real bad that most of the other houses that might have been sucking on the node are gone...I'd rather have good neighbors than a fast internet connection). However, TV service has suffered since the fire. Prior, I had nearly zero issues with HD channels, now they are constantly pixelating/tiling, dropping out, and "blue-screening" (where you get a screen claiming the channel is unavailable to you and you must order it to receive it) which goes away anywhere from right away to like 5 minutes later. I'm not 100% sure if Charter just has issues delivering the increased HD content they were transitioning to when the fires happened, or the issues I'm experiencing are due to Charter having to replace so much of their network and having to go through tuning it again. I've got Charter's techs looking into the issue. However, this is a Internet review so the issues with Charter's TV are not reflected in the Tech Support score, which I am raising from a 2 to a 4 because the local office is competent and helpful and I can go through them instead of the horrible tech number for help resolving issues.
Charter now offers 16/2 in my area, though I don't need the speed. The HSI and phone still work well, no issues. Charter TV is terrible. For a Cable TV company, I can't understand how the TV service can be so bad, yet the HSI and phone (two relatively new items to a cable company's product portfolio) can work flawlessly. Heck, I even just moved recently to another part of the same neighborhood (I know I'm on the same node still) and the TV still is terrible. I've had three cable boxes (1 Moxi & 2 SA 8300HDCs) all to no avail. The SD picture is 1950's, and the HD pixelates, tiles and drops out to no end. Also, Charter's pricing is still absurdly high compared to VZ FIOS (which isn't and will not be up here for a long time) so Charter is free to price things anyway they want. For poor TV service and higher prices due to lack of competition, I am re-rating them down in value for the money. I'd go FIOS in a new york minute if it ever showed up.
On 12/16/08, I dropped Charter's god-awful HD and DVR Services (and their horrible, horrible HD/DVR box), leaving only HSI, phone and basic analog cable. I signed up with DirecTV instead and my HD and DVR have been smooth sailing ever since on my primary TV. I don't know why a TV company can do HSI better than TV but oh well.
Finally got tired of Charter's endless rate hikes and short "bundled pricing" terms of only 6 months and then the endless haggling to get the bundled price back. So I ditched them for the much cheaper Verizon Home Phone (number ported over from Charter VOIP just fine) and HSI. Unfortunately, VZ only offers "up to" 7Mbps, of which I'm getting just over 5Mbps. This is a real drop from the 16/2 I had with Charter but the price is really the factor at this point as I try to cut costs. Plus I found I was not using my connection as much as I used to so the speed was going to waste.
I returned my equipment to a local Charter office and got my receipt for the equipment. It remains to be seen if I have to fight with Charter the far-away company about dropping off equipment at a local office (the two seem to be bi-polar partners - the local office knowledgeable and friendly and competent, the Charter as a company with horrible techs, phone reps, etc).
At the end, I would still recommend Charter HSI and VOIP phone to anyone who didn't mind the constantly fluctuating pricing but wanted solid service. However the pricing, the price hikes and bundling oddness is what drove me to Verizon. Unfortunately Verizon will probably never do FIOS up here, but I can live without it.
Thanks Charter for all the memories!
New update, Feb 2011. After a horrible 6 months with Verizon DSL which never worked right and absurdly over priced phone service, I dropped verizon and went back to Charter. Called Charter and amazingly enough this time they are up front with pricing, bundling deals, modem rental costs ($0 with my current special), and NO CONTRACT. I was told price was good for at least a year though the sales rep did acknowledge Charter does an annual price hike every January, so I might see a slight increase then. I'll have to see what they mean by "slight".
Number port back procedure was flawless, install date was a short 4 days after calling to re-sign up, install tech showed up on time (wow!) and was very knowledgeable about getting the service back up. I got a Motorola SB5120 modem this time, and the phone box was the same. Service was up and running in under 30 minutes, and I had the tech disconnect the VZ line in my NID.
Tech even gave me the local office number and his personal cell phone number if I had any post-install service issues. Wow, Charter is trying hard to improve customer service. Charter even called me a couple times post-install to let me know my service install was complete, etc. This time, instead of $70 for just HSI, $70 now gets me 12/1 HSI + Phone, with apparently no modem rental, all good for at least a year. Wow, that seems great. I'll have to see how it really turns out on the first bill though. Charter seems like they've improved, but only time will tell.
Thanks Charter! I upped the value for the money from 2-4 and I upped Pre-sales info from 2-4 for improved pre-sales service.
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updated 3.4 years ago