[OPINION] Optimum: Not Optimal

Alert — and frustrated — “06880” reader Luisa Francoeur writes:

In the continuing storm saga, I wonder how many people have experienced problems with Optimum/Cablevision.

Over the years I have been quite pleased with their customer service. The online, chat and even telephone assistance  has been prompt, friendly and successful.

However, now that we have cable lines down on our street, it is another story.

If you call, the online menu is designed to funnel you into a robotic answer. Unless you know to stonewall and continue saying “representative,” there is no option to speak with a person. And the system they have does not acknowledge that any problems can occur outside with their lines.

Once I got into the queue, it was so long that they offered a callback. But when I called back, they asked me again to indicate by the keypad whether I was on the line, whether I needed to actually speak to a person, or if I wanted to cancel the call.

I pressed the number request — but it didn’t work. So I waited until the end of all those options — and it still did not work.

Finally they told me I had used up all the time they allow for an answer. Just like that, they ended the call.

Net result: no customer service at all.

“06880” has heard from other Optimum customers that when their cable went out, they could not contact any actual human being (though their call was “very important” to the company). Some customers may still not have service. If you’ve had a recent experience with Cablevision — positive or negative — click “Comments” below.

Moments after sending me the story above, an Optimum repair truck appeared on Luisa Francoeur’s road. That’s the good news. The bad news is, they were there to fix her neighbor’s cable problem — not her own.

35 responses to “[OPINION] Optimum: Not Optimal

  1. Stacy Prince

    I’ve had the same problems with their “callback” system. SO frustrating. So sorry for your struggles. Crazy what virtual monopolies can get away with.

  2. John McCatthy

    We lost service during the 1st storm. Got a human on the phone and they came by and fixed the problem the next day.

  3. This is the new world order of ownership by Altice. They bought Cablevision in 2016 for a mere $14 billion. That’s when they closed up the News 12 studios. They closed a call center in Shelton. They gotta cover that “nut” somehow. And it really doesn’t matter because if you think Optimum is bad, Frontier makes them look great. Every single person I know who tried Frontier switched back to Optimum within one to three months regardless of incentives thrown at them.

  4. Arline Gertzoff

    I was out for 30 hours but all came back without a call I had another less than stellar experience with them over a non functioning phone.They were not very helpful and said go buy a new phoneSince becoming bought bu Altice they are not very interested except to charge maximum and no interest in a discount for seniors Unfortunately other services like Frontier are even worse They expect all to follow their directions and fix yourself or pay high fees unless they are at fault Good luck

  5. My husband called on Friday to report lines down in our driveway. Talked to a confused-sounding person after waiting an hour and a half for a callback. The representative said someone would be here Saturday to fix it. Nope. I called back this morning and after three attempts, with the first two ending with my call being disconnected, talked to a representative who said there was no record of any service order for Saturday or that anyone even spoke to us. The person I spoke to today was nice and seemingly helpful, and scheduled a repair for tomorrow — which will in all likelihood be cancelled. We shall see . . .

    • This is nearly identical to our experience. We too have a new appointment for tomorrow after our first two were never honored and with no record of them anywhere (despite us have a “claim #”)

  6. Speaking for our little group on North Pasture Road, we lost cable and internet the morning after the storm (Thursday) leading us to believe they ‘took it down’ to do repairs throughout the area on both electrical and cable wires. After a day, I called to see if we could get any updates but could ONLY get a live person (after thirty minutes on hold) once I went through the robo instructions to reset my modem (a farce, I knew). The rep was nice but sticking to a script that didn’t fit the problem, and took my number to get back with updates (which was a robo call saying we were still out, as if we didn’t know, and they were working on it.) By Saturday morning, EVERYone else around us was back on and so I called again (doing my dance with the modem) to see if maybe they could just flip the switch. Again, a nice but useless rep who didn’t have anyone she could ask and could only repeat we were part of the outage and they were working on it. Saturday evening, we watched as they flipped a switch on North and we were back up. And then this morning (two days later), I got a call saying ‘our service has been restored,’ brought to you by Captain Obvious. Really annoying. But then again, they know you have few other choices — Frontier is terrible, and Fios is never coming.

  7. I have another tale – but with a twist.

    Our cable/internet never went out. But a utility pole went down – transformer and wires and all – in our shared driveway. Eversource replaced everything Friday and power was restored.

    However, we still have downed wires across our shared driveway, across my neighbors lawn, and halfway up the drive. And NO ONE WILL OWN THE WIRES. Eversource says they’re Frontier’s. Frontier says they’re Optimum’s. Optimum has “lost” our appointments yesterday and today and are basically like, “uh, no thanks.” Westport Public Works has not returned my call. Our neighbors and we have been calling everywhere non-stop and no one wants to own these wires. I haven’t had access to our cars since last Wednesday as the only info I can seem to get is that the wires should not be driven over or touched. And now we’re expecting more snow tonight.

    We are now wondering which company will own the liability when one of our 6 children (between us and the neighbors), a snow plow, a delivery person, or any of us gets severely injured. Pictures here: https://twitter.com/LisaNoelle22

    • The person I spoke to today actually mentioned the possibility that if the lines don’t look like they are Optimum lines, they may not reattach them to my house when they show up. The only line currently in the air at my house is the power line, so one of the bundle of cables going into the box that was pulled off my house logically has to be an Optimum line. (The rest are likely unused telephone lines, but who knows, they all look the same to me.)

    • Update to our twisty tale:
      My neighbor and I went on a social media rampage – posted our issue all over Twitter, Instagram and Facebook tagging all companies involved and a few local news sources. Within 2 hours of doing so, I had a Frontier specialist call me an upgrade our situation to a “hazardous issue” and 4 Optimum trucks showed up. Which is mind-boggling because my neighbor was on the phone with Optimum at that time and they still claimed they had no record of any appointments for us and they wouldn’t be out until next week because of impending storm. But, alas – Optimum claimed the wire and we have access to our homes again. I do believe the power of social media and potentially negative PR worked. So lesson learned – no more days and days of phone calls. Twitter it is from now on!

      • Optimum showed up at our house today, too, and reattached or removed (if they were defunct) all of the wires that were across our driveway. The technician was notably pleasant and helpful.

    • Amy Schneider

      Same situation. We had cable and phone wires down on the street. Some were hanging by being roped to the poles so we could drive out of our dead-end street. Utility poles were replaced for electricity on Saturday. We were driving over and under the cable wires, but some broken poles were still on the street with cables on them. On Monday morning, my husband called the president of Frontier who promised he’d call his counterpart at Optimum. A Frontier crew came within fifteen minutes. The crew they said it had to wait for Optimum, but he got his phone number to call when Optimum came. Residents who needed service from their one homes had to make their own service calls. It was all coordinated between Optimum and Frontier Monday night and the lines were connected to the poles. School buses can now get onto our street and emergency vehicles can reach us.

  8. There is an actual hierarchy for the lines:
    Top lines are electric.
    Next is cable TV/cablevision
    Under that is Frontier/SNET cable
    Lowest is landlines/Frontier/SNET

    Look up and you might be able to see which is which (or send me a pic Dan has my email addy).

    • Matt, thank you – I’d love to take you up on the offer to help us decipher these wires. I don’t believe I have picture of where they reach the pole. But I can go take one.

  9. Robert Mitchell

    24 hours after Eversource restored power (including cable) to our street, Optimum sent a robocall telling me our cable service would be back soon.

    Meanwhile, Optimum recently doubled the monthly cost of our phone and Internet saying the trial period is over (after 10 years???)

  10. Call and ask to terminate service. The retention department will give you deals and get the price back down.

  11. Yeah, the new company Altice is horrible been a customer for 20+ years. There service is awful now, called them to talk about my bill and they were condescending no longer do they have published rates for service the rep told me.

  12. Irene Mastriacovo

    Thanks all for the heads up on Optimum. We are so frustrated with Frontier (no telephone nor internet since Wednesday) and we are waiting for our lines to get back on so that we can cancel and switch to Optimum. Not sure if it’s worth the hassle at this point. Just for the record, after 4 days of getting “it’s a neighborhood outage” the rep we spoke to on Saturday told us to put a ticket through so that someone will come out to service us. The earliest appointment was Friday, March 23rd but after a few minutes of complaining with a sprinkling of loud, “choice” words, they gave us March 16th. Oh well, technology – it’s a love/hate thing.

  13. Theresa Kovacs

    I have Optimum and never lost cable/power, i was very grateful, but does anyone know how Direct TV is or are there any other cable companies? i don’t like how the price keeps going up and I have gone to the Retention Department many times…..I wish we did have Fios here!

    • Dear Theresa,
      Sadly, Direct TV is not much better than Frontier. Down link or “throughput” can be difficult. Uplink has to go through phone lines or internet (provided by? ….. Optimum. Plus when the weather gets bad (snow or rain) the signal gets degraded or if bad enough, it goes to black. Real cable systems will have a tech to clean the downlink dish.

  14. Lesley Cullen Anderson

    I am not a big TV watcher so we are going to ditch Optimum. There are ways of getting the news and watching good shows. With Netflix and Amazon Prime, Hulu and more I know I can do this! I will keep them for the Internet because I have to but TV no more. They are just awful.

  15. Except you still need the wire going to the house (known as the “last mile” internet speak) to connect. Without that wire there’s no connectivity or revenue. That was always the challenge for the POTS (POTS = Plain Old Telephone Service). Fifteen years ago that last mile was the challenge for ISPs (ISP=(Internet Service Provider). The biz has rapidly changed and now it’s how to extricate every last dollar from the subscriber. Read: Altice.

  16. Dana McCreesh

    same same issue w them. no real worries as didn’t lose power or even cable but . spotty wifi for days , three hours on hold yesterday (literally, as they track it)…..no resolution. cant work, peloton, etc…. worse problems but there;s no resolution on the horizon and is annoying

  17. When Cablevision was good, they had good staffing. That has been missing for a long time. The economy forces that for profitability. Remeber with a major outage, you’ve got thousands of folks calling the same phone lines. There’s only so much capacity you can build into a system. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t reach out, but if the lines to your house look good, then it maybe to a major part to the system that would revive many when repaired. Obviously major storms will kich butt to many common carriers (CL&P-Eversource/Cablevisioin-Altice, etc.
    Can I tell you about the ice storm of 1973 or the snow storm of 1978 (cable TV almost didn’t exist then and the internet was in it’s infancy).

  18. Nancy Hunter

    … sounds like the library book sale didn’t get much business.

  19. Barbara Kellerman

    Optimum a total nightmare! Lost Internet, etc. on March 2, told earliest I can expect someone to repair is March 19! Miserably understaffed and unhelpful; phone system the wretched icing on the nauseating cake!

  20. Karin Kessler

    Lost power – Eversource – and Optimum (Internet, cable, phone) on Wednesday. Even 4g was not working. Called Optimum on Friday and could only hear message that they were aware of issue. I could not say representative without being disconnected. I called back and said ‘sales.’ Was redirected to ‘sales’ and I told them I wanted to cancel my plan which I do not need but have not canceled as of yet – this made me take some action. I was told that although sales was open, customer service was not and I should call back on Monday. I reported the outage through sales – they said they would try and alert appropriate people – and had someone (tech) show up at my house Saturday night. Tech asked if I had reported the outage and when I said yes they looked at the cable box and said they only do ‘drop boxes.’ I don’t know what that means. He then told me he had spoken with supervisor who said as soon as we got power back we would have c/internet/phone. Power came back Saturday night yet no Optimum. Finally…Sunday around noon I called again and spoke with ‘sales’ and told them I wanted to cancel – again. They could not help me – although thirty minutes later we did get cable/wifi/phone back.

    I honestly do not need Optimum other than Internet. It is difficult to cancel other services
    ….they always have a reason no to.

  21. We got rid of Optimum two months ago ONLY because it became so expensive. The service and performance were excellent. We switched to Frontier getting the same options for 40% less. Hate it. Everything we record is so pixelated we can’t watch it. I just hate the thought of crawling back to Optimum

  22. John, now that you are no longer an Optimum customer, they’ll offer you some great incentives to “sign up.”

  23. Primer for the DIGITAL DIVIDE: Customer service is DEAD. This is not a complaint it’s an observation through my experience for 20 + years.Soon and in many cases already true, you cannot talk to a body with blood coursing through their veins, and even worse if you do manage to survive the interminable time it takes to get through a gauntlet of robot questions and answer them correctly(even though they don’t apply to your problem) AND get to speak to a living person they are only there to appease your indignity because they have no authority to actually do anything for you except listen to you kvetch about your problem . BTW have you noticed that you can’t get to speak to the same person if you call back because what they said will happen doesn’t? Nor will they give you their surname or any way to refer to the conversation about an unresolved problem. Each time you call back you need to start all over again explaining what hasn’t happened to correct a problem. Forget about getting anything in writing except (Even though they are digital but don’t do email ) that you will owe them a perpetual monthly fee unless you persevere and get to speak with a person to cancel your account who insists on knowing your reasons and can’t even send you an email to confirm you did cancel your account. All corporations are using AI (artificial intelligence) to limit their interaction with YOU and their Lawyers make sure to NEVER put anything in writing because that would make them responsible to you and harder to win during their forced Arbitration clause hearings. Statistically, you have a near zero chance, read the research, to win your case. Not that it matters because as soon as anything requires lawyers, only the lawyers win you get whats left over if you are very very lucky. BUT the really scary part is when you speak to young people that are already in the workforce they are incredulous that you expect to be treated like a customer. They have experienced the world only through this lens and accept the (corporate) rules as if that is the only way the world works. OK you’ve gotten this far, now here’s the takeaway and it applies to every corporation: the ‘system’ is now designed to take up all of your time resolving problems for services/products you have already paid for. So learn this: The only thing money can’t buy is time, spend it wisely.

  24. Michelle Ludel

    So will optimum pro-rate bills for each day without service?? I have been out since wednesday storm, they are such bumbling idiots over the phone clearly I don’t need to go into detail based on everyone else’s comments but the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing over there, wondering when I will ever get service back as making appointments is useless since they just don’t show up, why should I pay for a service I am not receiving?? So incredibly frustrated…

  25. Cindy Clarke

    I am now on day 4 of my promised service calls to remove downed wires from my house (day 9 of no Internet or TV service)… the wires, which were on the road until the phone company nicely tied them to a tree in my yard two days ago, are now lying in front of my driveways so I cannot park at my house. The police advised me not to drive over these wires for any reason because of the inherent dangers of doing so and have contacted Cablevision twice on my behalf. Today I am scheduled again for a service call between 10 and 8 pm with no one again sight. They do not call or show up for scheduled appointments. No one will tell me the truth at Cablevision when I ask why no one has honored the scheduled appointments and management has been useless. Does anyone know of any recourse that I haven’t yet thought of?

    • Cindy, read my post above yours, there is no customer service, it’s just a number you call to give YOU something to do. Sorry