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adam1991

join:2012-06-16
Columbus, OH

Billing system--let's get this straight

there is no way--NO WAY--that a simple "billing system changover" can cause the issues that have arisen since November.

No "billing system change" can cause wait times to escalate immediately from 2 minutes to 45 minutes--that is, for those who actually get through and who don't get a BUSY SIGNAL or get hung up on.

Busy signal? BUSY SIGNAL? You know, AT&T or whomever is happy to sell you all the capacity you need to eliminate the BUSY SIGNAL! It's 2013, for God's sake. Busy signal??

TV signal disruptions. Internet speeds going down and not coming back until/unless you call customer service (and get through!) and they go off and "do something". But for heaven's sake, let's prevent those customer service calls at any cost--they cost us $XX per call, so minimize them (preferably eliminate them).

This is way, WAY deeper than a simple "billing system change". This is venture (vulture) capitalists raping the company and taking everything, because--let's face it--most cable customers are used to this kind of treatment from Cox, Comcast, Time Warner, et al.

Customer experience? That costs money, and I need my dividends NOW so I can hide them before the Obama taxes kick in!

I predict I will never get a reply from Colleen Abdoulah, and I predict that WOW has permanently changed from "the little startup that could" into just another of the big boys who think they are entitled to customers simply because the company exists, and who treat the customers like sh!t.

hudiat

join:2011-10-13
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·WOW Internet and..
Agreed. The purchase of broad stripe and knology confirms this. They are one of the big screen bad cable companies now. They are no longer the smaller guy that gets by on good service.

Going back over a year I said they were slowly slipping. Everyone called me a complainer, an isolated incident, etc. Over a year I have been saying it and they finally hit a point when the slow decline is now mainstream and everyone is effected.

hudiat

join:2011-10-13
reply to adam1991
P. S. I believe your review is not currently towards your feelings.

adam1991

join:2012-06-16
Columbus, OH
I believe you're right...

should be corrected this weekend.

Body Count

join:2010-09-11
Columbus, OH
reply to adam1991
You can't blame the lack of phone lines on the busy signal. Any business of today would have their own phone system which would route calls based on first come first serve. If WOW was still using land lines for their outside calls, I would be very shocked. Most likely it's a version of VOIP made for heavy business use because it's a lot cheaper. If the phone system gets overwhelmed, then that's why you're getting the busy signal.

However..

This messed up update they did should have been rolled back the day after they found out it didn't go as planned. Any respectable business would have a "change administration board" that should oversee any changes happening that affects internal and external customers. This committee would be in charge of accepting or denying the change that someone wants to do. If you don't have a backout plan, then that's a clear sign the change is going to be denied. Looks like WOW needs to get up with the times and hire some temps to train their office staff on the right ways to run a business.

This should have been rolled back within 24 hours with a clear path to roll back. Making a change with no backout plan or no way to backout is just asking for trouble.. just like what happened here.

pparks1

join:2002-01-01
Westland, MI

2 edits
reply to adam1991
Yeah, it's a bit nuts. I called tonight, (am still on hold), because some of my discounts have expired and I would like to see about getting my services rebundled. It's nearly 2am and I have been on hold for approx 50 minutes.

Still getting the intro message ("we know the past couple of days have been hard"). Couple of days? More like couple of weeks, and closer to couple of months at this point.

In a few weeks, I'm going to want to drop one of my premium channels and am expecting having to sit on hold for a long time again. This is very inconvenient. First time in a long time that I have seriously been thinking about switching services. Unsure if WOW will get this resolved. This certainly isn't the WOW that I am used to.

pparks1

join:2002-01-01
Westland, MI

1 edit
reply to adam1991
Yay!!! The answered the phone at the 51 minute mark on hold. Super awesome.

Now hopefully I will get enough of a bundle discount to make my time waiting worth it. Knocking $25 a month off my bill for me and crediting my account $10 since I held so long on hold tonight.

She was very nice and said that at any given time they have 200-250 people waiting in the call queue due to issues with the upgrade. New call center opening in January with 250 more people. What a debacle.

I just hope they get it resolved soon, I don't want to switch to the alternatives.

slyphoxj

join:2002-06-23
Brook Park, OH
kudos:1
Reviews:
·ObiVoice
·WOW Internet and..
·magicjack.com
·Callcentric
reply to adam1991
This whole thing reminds of when Page Plus Cellular, my cell phone provider, first made the sudden, gargantuan leap about 3 years ago from being a sleepy mom-n-pop pay-by-the-minute prepaid provider to a "big boy" providing $39.95/month unlimited talk n' text going head-to-head with Straight Talk and Boost.

Page Plus didn't beef up their customer service enough to handle the onslaught of new customers. Their CS became almost impossible to reach. At one time, most calls to PPC's CS number would result in an "all circuits are busy" and super duper long hold times (comparable to WOW's now). And when you finally did get a hold of a CS agent, you'd often get a rude, incompetent agent.

PPC survived this and their CS has improved drastically in the past year or so. Several months back, they started to offer a Live Chat feature which has been mostly great. It would be nice if WOW offered a Live Chat... just seems to be a more efficient way of doing CS/TS... easier to communicate info via a chat session then verbally over the phone.

Hopefully WOW will recover from this really soon... we desperately need the competition!

MrMonk

join:2012-11-28
Cleveland, OH
Why would hiring more people help. If it is just a system upgrade, shouldn't the same amount of help as before be enough? What kind of "upgrade" upsets customers and adds to wows labor cost?

Something else is going on.

adam1991

join:2012-06-16
Columbus, OH
reply to slyphoxj
yes, I'm with PagePlus. When I got onto it a few years ago, CS was superb. New Year's Day, even. I'm on the standard plan, never left it.

But I watched the drama unfold on Howard Forums as PagePlus rolled out their Unlimited Talk 'N' Text for $40/month a couple of years ago. Yes, this seems very similar--

--except WOW has done nothing to create any customer activity, let alone the level that PagePlus saw with the then-unprecedented plan and price.

I can understand the PagePlus situation. Imagine if Honda decided to sell the 2013 Civic for $8000 out the door--that's the situation PagePlus found itself in.

For WOW to be in this situation, they had to have fired everyone and outsourced all the CS all at once to people who are brand new to it. WOW has done NOTHING that would suddenly generate 30X the customer service calls and a 50 minute wait time.

Eliminate the impossible and whatever remains, however improbable, must be true. If it's not an onslaught of business, it's the sudden death of all the CS that we've experienced over the years. It's just not there.

The guy at the local office said that "by February" "everything" should be up and running and back to normal again. "They're training 250 new CS reps" and something about a "new call center". Yeah, it all adds up:

the "billing system change" was in actuality an outsourcing of the billing system; the outsource company executed it poorly and without any sort of recovery, and WOW doesn't really care figuring that this will all "blow over".

An additional part of the outsourcing was the CS business, which again was executed poorly by the outsource company. Hence the talk about "250 new hires" and "new call center". It looks like WOW threw out everyone who knew anything, and counted on the outsource company and their promises about their "experienced people" (that turned out to be Aunt Martha on a candlestick phone, apparently).

All because the venture (vulture) capitalists who own WOW figured this would make them more money.

WOW is now nothing more than just another T-W/Cox/Comcast big boy. The old days are long gone.

But it may be too little, too late. Cord cutting is way too easy nowadays.

slyphoxj

join:2002-06-23
Brook Park, OH
kudos:1
reply to adam1991
I really wish a disgruntled (or maybe even not-so-disgruntled?) WOW (ex-)employee would just hop on here and spill the beans already... or at least give us a realistic estimate on when things will be back to normal.

pparks1

join:2002-01-01
Westland, MI
reply to adam1991
@Adam, with respect to no customer service and outsourcing of everything....

When I called the other day, I waited 50 minutes, but when the person came on the line they were quick, helpful, knew exactly what I was asking for, and handled the problem just like always. I didn't have the feeling whatsoever that this person was new, or reading from a script. They didn't have to put me on hold to check anything, etc.

mogamer

join:2011-04-20
Royal Oak, MI
said by pparks1:

@Adam, with respect to no customer service and outsourcing of everything....

When I called the other day, I waited 50 minutes, but when the person came on the line they were quick, helpful, knew exactly what I was asking for, and handled the problem just like always. I didn't have the feeling whatsoever that this person was new, or reading from a script. They didn't have to put me on hold to check anything, etc.

Yes, but you still had to wait 50 minutes to talk to someone. That is totally unacceptable. And then Adam mentions that he was told that things would be working right this coming February. So we must wait another 2 months? Once again, totally unacceptable.

We're only told part of the story and since Dan was promoted and kept quite busy, there has been no mention of a dedicated replacement for him. Since Dan only works technical issues anyway and the phone support is poor, WOW! should have a billing/account specialist look at these forums too. This customer service change-over problem is pathetic and I have a sinking feeling that it won't make things better for WOW!'s customers.

hudiat

join:2011-10-13
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·WOW Internet and..
How does a billing upgrade lead to longer wait times. More hiring means the wait is because of lack of workers. What happened between the last day of the old system and the first of the new system that all of a sudden more workers were needed?

Layoffs? Outsourcing? Oh wait, they almost doubled (or did?) when they bought broadstripe and knology, and they failed to realize more support would be needed.

Guys let's buy a few companies, merge them over, and right when they learn our system, change it. Oh, and to maximize efficiency let's do it during the holidays.

Matt7

join:2001-01-02
Columbus, OH
Reviews:
·AT&T U-Verse
·Insight Communic..
said by hudiat:

How does a billing upgrade lead to longer wait times. More hiring means the wait is because of lack of workers. What happened between the last day of the old system and the first of the new system that all of a sudden more workers were needed?

Layoffs? Outsourcing? Oh wait, they almost doubled (or did?) when they bought broadstripe and knology, and they failed to realize more support would be needed.

Guys let's buy a few companies, merge them over, and right when they learn our system, change it. Oh, and to maximize efficiency let's do it during the holidays.

New billing system means agents have to memorize new routines to help customers.. which causes delays if everyone is not up to speed on the systems.. Billing system is likely tied to their CSR Tools for troubleshooting and also for account documentation (not sure what WOW uses but when I did support for another cable provider years ago we used an application called ICOMS and we had to document EVERY Customer contact even if it was a simple non account related question) so if their having to log your account to answer your question on pricing etc.. and are having to jump thru "new screens" it would cause a delay... and every minute of delay means another person has to wait a minute longer in queue...

Hiring more people means that there are more FTE's to answer your calls during peak times which will bring down wait times.. etc.

hudiat

join:2011-10-13
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·WOW Internet and..
I get that, but by the time they train new people wouldn't the originals be trained enough to reduce queues anyway? Again how is adding to the labor cost and increasing wait times an "upgrade".

Who "wins" in this situation. Wows employees are probably stressed, wow labor cost going up atleast in the short term, customers are annoyed, and has their been 1 positive outcome?

Hiring additional staff is usually what this kind of upgrade is made to prevent. Increase efficiency, cut labor costs.

I feel sorry for anyone from knology and broad stripe who got bought out, and now get this situation as their first impression of their new company.this alone is reason wow shouldn't have done anything. System wide change while buying other companies and systems, trying to merge them while upgrading, it's just too much to do at once.

anobix

join:2010-03-01
Columbus, OH
reply to adam1991
I called last night to get some things taken care of (line that still has not been dug into the ground after 6 weeks, still getting charged for renting a modem yet using my own, get a cable card ordered, etc).

I waited on hold for 15 minutes (at 6:00PM EST), not bad, not amazing, but better than 45-60 minutes.

While on the phone I asked the woman some questions about the issues. She was familiar enough with the previous system and had been there for over a year, so that tells me it has not been (or at least not entirely) outsourced. She told me they had 4 days of training for how to use the new system, but there were problems during the training. When they brought up those problems, those that were hosting the training said that they would be resolved by Go-Live -- but they were not, and only about half of the software was functional (it has gotten better now, but not 100%), causing delays and the need to do work-arounds.

WOW has 2 call centers, one in Alabama (where I was redirected to) and one in Colorado [as we've found it is their 'home base' of sorts]. She said that they are opening a couple more, I believe one is going to be in Wisconsin (but don't quote me on that).

Overall, the service that I received was excellent, I was credited with a discount for the next 12 months due to the issues I was having and she handled all of the issues that I had without needing to transfer me.

pparks1

join:2002-01-01
Westland, MI
reply to hudiat
said by hudiat:

How does a billing upgrade lead to longer wait times. More hiring means the wait is because of lack of workers. What happened between the last day of the old system and the first of the new system that all of a sudden more workers were needed?

As I was told, the new billing system caused so many problems with bills, channels, service, caused outages, problems, etc...that they always have 200+ people waiting on hold at any given time. Thus it's taking much longer than normal to answer the calls.

hudiat

join:2011-10-13
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·WOW Internet and..
Again, unless they are training new people faster than they can fix the issues, it's pointless. What happens when they do get back to normal? Are all the newly hired people out of work? The fact that they are hiring more means they think they can train them before the issues get resolved, which means we can expect issues a lot longer. They wouldn't hire and train new people if the issues were going to be fixed in a week. Their internal eta of solving this is long enough to justify new hires on this scale means something is screwed up more than they are letting us know.

Once the billing system is in place and everyone trained they will be more efficient and quicker at working with customers than before, otherwise why even do it, so when that happens they will need less employees than before this started, so all the new people are just gone? If they keep 250 employees on board that's a huge chunk of change, how can they not pass that cost on the users.

Gerard1234

join:2012-04-03
Reviews:
·Comcast
·WOW Internet and..
Went online to check my bill and it is 397.64. Called and could not get through of course. I closed my account December 4th and my account was prorated from Nov 15 to Dec 15 I made payment with Comerica Web pay and they never applied it. They also just kept the account open even though I turned in the equipment and charge me with something I do not have. Now they are going to turn it into collections it says on the bill. My friends having the same problems with WOW too. Never do business with them again.

slyphoxj

join:2002-06-23
Brook Park, OH
kudos:1
Reviews:
·ObiVoice
·WOW Internet and..
·magicjack.com
·Callcentric
said by Gerard1234:

Went online to check my bill and it is 397.64. Called and could not get through of course. I closed my account December 4th and my account was prorated from Nov 15 to Dec 15 I made payment with Comerica Web pay and they never applied it. They also just kept the account open even though I turned in the equipment and charge me with something I do not have. Now they are going to turn it into collections it says on the bill. My friends having the same problems with WOW too. Never do business with them again.

Your only hope may be to go down to your local WOW office and get it resolved if you don't have the patience to wait almost an hour on hold or keep fighting busy signals .

If and when we decide to go to Time Warner at my place, I'm going to just take the WOW boxes and just head down to my local WOW office before I go to work and tell them to disconnect service after Time Warner does their install. I'm not going to even bother calling.

adam1991

join:2012-06-16
Columbus, OH
said by slyphoxj:

If and when we decide to go to Time Warner at my place, I'm going to just take the WOW boxes and just head down to my local WOW office before I go to work and tell them to disconnect service after Time Warner does their install. I'm not going to even bother calling.

And be sure and get a receipt for your equipment, and keep that receipt forever. Scan it to your gmail. Something. Never let it go. I've heard of too many horror stories about cable companies not keeping good track of things and sending accounts like yours to collections despite your having returned the equipment.

lilatov

join:2012-12-18
Beachwood, OH
reply to adam1991
I'm in Shaker Hts., OH, and I got WOW just internet & TV just before the "new billing system" went into effect. I have never gotten through to Wow Customer service, despite several attempts and two hour-long waits in the customer service queue. I am getting TV and Internet service (although with frequent disconnects), but I don't seem to have an account or an account number. I can't set up my email. I can't check my bill. I haven't received a bill. It's totally crazy. I loathe Time Warner and AT&T, but at least their incompetence is completely predictable. WOW's has been an utter surprise.

pparks1

join:2002-01-01
Westland, MI
reply to pparks1
said by pparks1:

Yay!!! The answered the phone at the 51 minute mark on hold. Super awesome.

Now hopefully I will get enough of a bundle discount to make my time waiting worth it. Knocking $25 a month off my bill for me and crediting my account $10 since I held so long on hold tonight.

She was very nice and said that at any given time they have 200-250 people waiting in the call queue due to issues with the upgrade. New call center opening in January with 250 more people. What a debacle.

I just hope they get it resolved soon, I don't want to switch to the alternatives.

said by pparks1:

Yay!!! The answered the phone at the 51 minute mark on hold. Super awesome.

Now hopefully I will get enough of a bundle discount to make my time waiting worth it. Knocking $25 a month off my bill for me and crediting my account $10 since I held so long on hold tonight.

She was very nice and said that at any given time they have 200-250 people waiting in the call queue due to issues with the upgrade. New call center opening in January with 250 more people. What a debacle.

I just hope they get it resolved soon, I don't want to switch to the alternatives.

I had to call tonight to have Showtime removed from my account and I was on hold less than 6 minutes. It was handled very quickly once they answered the phone. Much more like normal.


Bill_MI
Bill In Michigan
Premium,MVM
join:2001-01-03
Royal Oak, MI
kudos:2
Reviews:
·WOW Internet and..
reply to adam1991
said by adam1991:

there is no way--NO WAY--that a simple "billing system changover" can cause the issues that have arisen since November.

I see one big problem with that statement. The word "simple".

It's not a "simple" billing system changeover. This new system apparently integrates into real operations, provisions and configurations. I'm sure the promise of such an integrated system was fantastic in theory and horrible in practice. Learning curves, bugs, unforeseen side effects - all massively underestimated. The result is "transition hell".

And it certainly wouldn't be the first time a company went through this sort of thing.

My personal affect was 1 of 2 MTAs couldn't be configured with the online customer tool. I do not know if it lost its configuration because of the change - they do this every once in a while anyway. It was obvious, from the support call, that MTA ended up configured wrong on my account. She saw it right away, too. Some kind of transition scheme screwed it up.

I suspect real service issues were/are massively being seen which raised the support calls to atomic levels.

I have no idea why they didn't just back it out. Could be very good technical reasons or they were past a critical point when the magnitude was seen. If they didn't have such a plan, shame on them.

Lots of speculation, here, about outsourcing. Anyone with real data on that, please jump in. The person I talked to was definitely a seasoned WOW support person.

Just my 2 cents. All Comments Welcomed. Flames Cheerfully Ignored.


takethat

@wideopenwest.com
They did the change to save money. They changed from using csg and alopa to a system called icoms.

MrMonk

join:2012-11-28
Cleveland, OH
Reviews:
·WOW Internet and..
reply to Bill_MI
Bill, my speculation about out sourcing, or something related to employees comes from the fact that they are hiring more. If the support call increase was due to the bugs in the upgrade, then calls would go back to normal levels after the bugs were fixed. So hiring people is just a short term fix. I am still curious what happens to those people once everything is fixed and they no longer need the extra staff. If anything they will have lost customers because this, people are leaving because of the support issues, and I'm guessing new subscribers numbers dropped off when people were unable to call in to order. Sure you can fill out the online form and such, but I bet more than a few people planned on switching to WOW and didn't because of this. So if anything once the bugs are fixed with temporary decrease in subscribers, and HOPEFULLY a more efficient support system, they will need less staff. So, the speculation is they did something with staff that left them with not enough. Just pure speculation.

As far as them backing out and not, is just a major fail. Who does a major upgrade of this sort without a back up plan?

I STILL can't believe that they did this upgrade leading up to the holiday season, right after 2 big buys of other providers, and without a backup plan.

sanoja

join:2000-04-05
Streamwood, IL
reply to adam1991

One Minute

I am on the phone right now with WOW.

I called to disconnect my TV and they picked up and I am talking to someone within 30 seconds.

adam1991

join:2012-06-16
Columbus, OH
reply to Bill_MI

Re: Billing system--let's get this straight

OK, change "simple" to "straightforward". My comments remain.

I agree that at *best* they massively underestimated the scope of this.

Actually, based on my experience, someone told them the true scope of this and what it would cost to implement correctly--and WOW (or their vulture capital overlords) ignored that advice and figured "oh, that's just overkill worrying, this will all be fine" and they declined to pay the $$$ cost to do it all well.

Instead, they're paying the very real multiple costs, including $$$, for their ignorance and denial.

If anyone here has tried to manage moving his office from one location to another, and got suckered in by the moving company's "project manager" who assured him everything would be OK and then declined to pay $$$ for the service of professional move managers, that person knows *exactly* what I'm talking about.

baess

join:2011-01-28
said by adam1991:

Instead, they're paying the very real multiple costs, including $$$, for their ignorance and denial.

Sure there were issues but I think you are being a bit dramatic. Hiring additional staff wil cost them $ but unless you have knowledge of massive amounts of subscribers leaving WOW, this will be pretty much a non event in the long run.