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Time Warner's Cable Modem Fiasco

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - I'm thinking that this could turn out to be a giant nightmare for Time Warner Cable (TWC - Get Report) high-speed Internet customers.

Last week the company informed its Internet service subscribers, via post cards, that it would begin charging $4 a month for company-provided cable modems which had previously been free. Or, customers could buy their own new cable modems for $100 to $150. Time Warner warned that it would begin charging the new fee on Oct. 15.

So, I got one of the Motorola modems on the list. It arrived yesterday but I had to wait until this afternoon to install it when no one was using an Internet connection. I followed the instructions on Time Warner's Web site. Unplug the old modem. Install the new modem. Then I called Time Warner's Customer Support phone line to register the new hardware. That last step is where the fun began.

First up: dealing with the automated operator. After 5 interactive minutes I was transferred to Lina (that's what it sounded like when she spoke into her headset). She's one of Time Warner's national advisers. I told her exactly what I wanted to do. She listened attentively and took down a lot of information. She then gave me a "case number" and told me to hold on to speak with someone on the Time Warner Provisioning Team.

After a minute or so I was speaking with Monica, who called herself a Customer Service agent. She began asking me to repeat all my information again, but I insisted that she could find all of that by searching the case number from Lina. After a minute or two (we all had to wait for Lina to exit the file) Monica had all the info she needed and began typing in a new computer file.

In a minute or so she was done. She gave me a confirmation number (different from the case number) and told me that I'll get a return call when they were ready. It turns out it will take as much as three days for a technician to make the change.

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