The Charter/HSA Connection….How Charter Boradband Went From Bad To Worse

by | Apr 13, 2001

Today, I’m going to share some information with my readers that I have known unofficially for some time regarding Charter Communications’ broadband services infrastructure. I’ve not shared it before because my previous conversations with Charter about this have been, by mutual agreement, off the record. But in as much as I had an official conversation […]

Today, I’m going to share some information with my readers that I have known unofficially for some time regarding Charter Communications’ broadband services infrastructure. I’ve not shared it before because my previous conversations with Charter about this have been, by mutual agreement, off the record. But in as much as I had an official conversation the other day with Andi Holdgate, of Corporate Public Relations at High Speed Access Corporation (HSA), I now feel free to share some details behind the ongoing deterioration in service that Charter Communications customers are experiencing.

HSA is Charter’s third party services provider of e-mail services and technical support. They provide e-mail services to over 100,000 users, although they cannot tell me how many of them are Charter customers, or whether all 100,000 users are victims of the current e-mail crisis (I suspect they are.)

What does this mean? It means that when I beat on Charter to solve their e-mail problems, they beat on HSA. It means that when I call Charter’s technical support help line, I am talking to an HSA employee, providing technical support to Charter. That’s right. The idiot in technical support was an HSA employee in their Denver office.

In my conversation with Andi Friday, nothing new surfaced — HSA still has not determined the root cause of the current e-mail crisis.

So now I have one more caring, concerned individual to talk to, but I still don’t have reliable e-mail service.

From C-COR to HSA, or From Bad to Worse
Charter’s relationship with HSA is relatively recent. Prior to engaging HSA as a third party e-mail and technical support services provider, Charter used C-COR as its services provider. C-COR was far from perfect, but they had over time achieved a relatively stable environment. I take credit for much of that. There is no doubt in my mind that my complaints and criticism made C-COR into a better company. As such, C-COR understood the need to deal with me differently than most users. So unlike most users, I did not use the Charter / C-COR technical support line — I called C-COR’s technical support supervisors directly, and they usually responded to my needs quickly. (Thank you Javier Santana wherever you are these days.)

Last year, Charter decided to discontinue their relationship with C-COR. I’m not certain as to why. Perhaps C-COR exited the broadband management business, or perhaps Charter was unhappy with the services C-COR was providing. Maybe it was a mutual decision to part company. Maybe Charter needed to cut costs. Maybe they thought HSA would do a better job than C-COR. It doesn’t really matter.

What does matter is this: around the time of this change, I was told a blatant lie by a Charter executive. Specifically, a Charter executive told me that the reason behind Charter’s decision to end their relationship with C-COR was to bring all broadband management services in house in order to get more control over quality and reliability and to improve customer service. I was told that I was about to experience a wonderful new world. Having worked long and hard to train C-COR into being a responsive company (without any thanks from Charter, I might add), I was not thrilled at the prospect of a change in the status quo. But I had to admit it made sense, because on many occasions I had experienced finger-pointing between Charter and C-COR that caused delays in getting problems fixed. So eliminating the third party and bringing broadband management services in house seemed like a logical idea.

But the truth is that Charter didn’t bring their broadband management services in house. Charter merely switched third party service providers from C-COR to HSA, and in doing so went from bad to worse, both in terms of technical support and e-mail reliability. This is illustrative of the one constant I have observed with Charter over the past two and a half years: every time they achieve a relatively stable situation, they do something to de-stabilize it and throw things into chaos. Oh, I don’t doubt their good intentions — I know they are genuinely trying to do something for me — but like the government, they always seem to end up doing something to me instead. And not just me, of course — to thousands of other customers.

So why did Andi Holdgate from HSA Corporate Public Relations call me yesterday? He did so at the request of Charter Communications Corporate Customer Relations, that’s why. I’m not speculating here — this is what he told me. Charter gave HSA my name and phone number.

And what did Charter hope to accomplish by having HSA contact me? I’m not sure, but I can speculate. Maybe it was their way of letting me know that they are beating on HSA for a solution. Maybe they wanted to point the finger of blame at HSA. Or maybe, just maybe, by having HSA contact me, they hoped I would write a column about HSA and spread the heat around. If that is the case, I’m afraid that I will have to disappoint Charter.

You see, I pay my bills to Charter each month, not HSA. From my perspective, Charter lost the option of being able to point the finger at third parties the moment they lied to me and told me they were bringing broadband management in house. I could care less if HSA is to blame. The last thing I want to do is train another company in Charter Communication’s services supply chain. I’ve already trained one third party for Charter at no cost. And if HSA is to blame for all of my recent e-mail problems, well, then Charter is to blame for choosing them as its third party services provider and not managing them effectively. It’s as simple as that.

So thanks for the phone call Andi, but rest easy. I enjoyed chatting with you, but chances are you won’t be hearing from me again. Although managing third parties to deliver technology solutions happens to be one of my core competencies as an independent consultant, somebody else will have to make HSA a better company. I’m the customer here, not the consultant, and I’m tired of doing Charter’s work for them.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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