Top 10 cable customer service nightmares of 2012

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Customer service nightmares

(Source: iStock)

While major cable operators have made significant improvements in their customer service operations in the last decade, some high-profile incidents such as the report this week of an "exploding" Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) set-top continue to create challenges for operators nationwide. In this special report, FierceCable takes a look at some of the biggest customer service nightmares that cable operators have grappled with this year.

1. Digital conversion creates customer service headache for Comcast
Comcast's switch to an all-digital programming lineup in Northeast Florida in January didn't go smoothly, as hundreds of subscribers who failed to pick up digital terminal adapters woke up one morning to discover they couldn't watch subscription video programming on analog TVs. A Florida newspaper ran a story about the debacle that included a video showing long lines of subscribers waiting to pick up DTAs at distribution tents that Comcast set up at a grocery store parking lot. Article

2. 'Hardware issue' leaves some Cox subs without voice mail for more than a week
Cox Communications VoIP phone subscribers on its largest cable systems in Arizona, Southern California and the Las Vegas area weren't able to access their voice mails for more than a week in February. The Cox subscribers permanently lost voice mails that they had stored on its system because of what Cox described as a "hardware issue. Article

3. Comcast driver ticketed after crashing into house, cars
In April, Delaware State Police issued a ticket for inattentive driving to a 50-year-old Comcast driver after he crashed a company-owned Ford F450 into two parked cars and a house. Building inspectors declared the home unsafe to occupy after the crash. The incident occurred just two months after a Comcast employee crashed a company van into a home in West Hartford, Conn., after losing control of the vehicle because of a medical condition. Article

Saari

Saari (Image: Duluth Police Dept.)

4. Charter subscriber arrested after threatening to 'blow up or burn' payment center
Charter Communications (Nasdaq: CHTR) was forced to evacuate a payment center in Duluth, Minn., in July, after 27-year-old subscriber Steven Saari allegedly threatened to "blow up or burn" the facility because he was "upset over his Internet service," according to local police. Article

5. Cablevision contractor arrested for allegedly fondling subscriber
In April, police in Stony Point, N.Y. arrested a 29-year-old Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) contractor for allegedly groping and kissing a subscriber while he was visiting her home to repair her Optimum high-speed Internet service. Jonathan Malave was charged with forcible touching. Article

Comcast van

A Comcast van in West Palm Beach, Fla. (Image: iStock)

6. Facing backlash in Savannah, Comcast drives trucks and CSRs to public meeting
Government officials in Savannah, Ga., received so many complaints about customer service at Comcast that they decided to hold four public forums in which subscribers were invited to voice their concerns. Comcast responded  in force, bringing customer service representatives and field technicians to the meetings in hopes of resolving complaints such as damage caused to homes by installers and pricing of its programming packages. Article

7. Cablevision, Verizon suffer widespread outages sparked by Hurricane Sandy
Hurricane Sandy left millions of cable subscribers on the East coast unable to access cable TV, high-speed Internet and telephone service from telecom providers. Cablevision and Verizon (NYSE: VZ), which operate systems in New Jersey and New York's Long Island, were hit the hardest. The super storm also ignited debate on the billing policy from cable MSOs. While Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) said it would automatically credit subscribers for days they lost service, Cablevision requested that its customers call the company to request credits on their monthly bills. Article

8. Time Warner Cable sees backlash from $4 modem fees
Time Warner Cable saw negative coverage from several national media outlets after announcing that it would begin charging all of its high-speed Internet service subscribers monthly fees of $3.95 to lease a cable modem. The modem fees have also sparked class-action lawsuits from Time Warner Cable subscribers. Article

KGO TV exploding cable box

(Screencap: KGO-TV)

9. Comcast compensates subscriber for damage from "exploding" set-top
Comcast subscriber Kay Corlett called an ABC affiliate in San Francisco after she had trouble getting Comcast to pay for damages after one of its cable set-tops reportedly "exploded" during a power surge. Comcast's insurance company sent Corlett a check for $290 to help pay for a new HDTV. Article

10. Comcast pulls utility boxes from Georgetown sidewalks after residents complain
After residents of the historic Georgetown neighborhood in Washington, D.C., complained about Comcast digging up sidewalks, the MSO agreed to remove several refrigerator-sized utility boxes in October. AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon have faced similar complaints in areas where they have installed utility boxes to support their respective U-verse TV and FiOS TV services. Article