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big dumb time warner gray box of doom

Big Dumb Time Warner Box

A few months ago I decided that I wanted a more modern TV experience than that provided by my cable provider Time Warner. Their DVR installed in my house for the last 3 years was an eye-popping marvel of technology in the mid-ninties but was showing its age.

After talking with my friend Patrick who was a happy Dish network customer, and based on their recent purchase of Sling I decided I liked their system. Calling them to order and get an installation date was a breeze and the price was exceptionally good. Next, and I didn’t look forward to this part, I had to call and cancel my cable TV service, but I intended to keep my high speed internet with them. Surprisingly, the call went very well and I had a disconnect date that was close to my Dish install date, both right before Thanksgiving for my family’s visit to chez Scott.

The first problem occurred when the Dish installer came to the house and saw the giant gray armored metal box on the back of my townhouse. He was unable to get it open, and it was covering all of the wires going into the 18 (!!) jacks in my house. So he left and told me that I had to get the cable company to unlock the box or they would have to run separate wires, which wasn’t going to happen.

Back on the phone with Time Warner, I asked that whoever came out to disconnect the cable TV leave the box unlocked for a week so I could get my new service installed and she “noted” my account. I also asked that I be called when they were there so I could watch them and make sure they left it open because I sensed doom.

Well, they didn’t call me when they came, I just happened to be home for another contractor and the Time Warner guy and an apprentice came up to my patio and unlocked the box and started to disconnect wires. I went outside and chatted with them and asked them to leave the box unlocked for a week so I could get access to those wires. He shook his head and said, no can do.

Turns out that those cables were run and installed by Time Warner and they feel pretty possessive, nay pissy about them. I asked to have the wires that were not being used anymore pulled out of the bottom of their box so that they could be used for other service at which point they told me “Those are our wires and you can’t use them.” Mind you, these wires go directly to every cable outlet in the townhouse.

At this point I told them that they may think that they are their wires but they are wrong and they were going to expose them. While looking right at me the cable technician placed the cover back on the box and locked it telling me it wasn’t their policy to allow the use of those wires. This pissed me off big time and I asked him how Time Warner would like to be billed for the storage of cables in my house. At which point he wasn’t sure how to respond while I demanded to talk to his supervisor.

Said supervisor confirmed that they were not going to allow me access to the wires. After being incredulous with him I told him that I required the box removed from my house immediately which he said they wouldn’t do and I should contact their “security” department. He said that since the box was for all the townhouses that they would not remove it — a point which I made his technician prove was wrong because all of us have our own giant metal boxes. After the manager guy heard this and after more of me demanding it be removed or I would do it with a crow-bar and dump it on their lawn they decided to unlock the box.

This sort of behavior is unbelievable to me and I can’t believe that it is legal. Because of this I’ve had DSL installed and will be canceling my high speed internet with these guys also — and I have removed the locks from their dumb box and if they lock it when they come to disconnect the internet, they will find it on their lawn cut up in little pieces.

In the end, all the wires except the cable one (so far) are pulled out the bottom into another, smaller box (installed by my very nice neighbor Tom), where the Dish network guy connected to the house.