Charter bought Time Warner Cable in my area, and the disgusting amorphous blob is now known as Spectrum.

Customer service was pretty terrible with TWC, but I’m sad to say it seems to be even worse with Spectrum. Your only options for support now are the customer service phone number, or the incredibly-unhelpful live chat.

Case in point: each time I speak to a chat representative, they try to get me to upgrade to their 60 Mbps plan and claim that I’m currently on a 50 Mbps plan, when in fact they upgraded all TWC 50 Mbps customers in the area to 60 Mbps for free earlier this year and sent an email clearly stating such. They even like to argue with me positing that no, my connection is only 50 Mbps, even though I’m looking at both a live speed test and the email directly from Spectrum contradicting them. Yet the knowledge presented through this conversation is lost again next time I reach out to them, when I have to rehash the same points again.

Next, they have a ridiculous price gouging system that nobody should be OK with. If you want to upgrade to a faster plan, even if you were a customer of TWC on their fastest plan already, you’re considered an existing customer and asked to pay a $199 “activation fee” for the higher plan. Even if you don’t need any hardware, or a service call of any kind.

Spectrum happily waives this fee for some customers, occasionally even without them asking for it, while others (like me) are left hearing excuses such as that it’s impossible to adjust or waive the fee and it’s required for everyone.

Three different chat reps have spouted off several different, sometimes conflicting, reasons to try and justify the fee. Some say it’s to offset infrastructure costs, to pay for increased bandwidth, or to pay for increased monitoring. But those items are what the monthly fee is for, it doesn’t make sense you would pay for those things with a one-time fee. Another rep claimed it was more of an installation fee–but that doesn’t make sense, because I don’t need a service call. Another rep claimed it’s because you’re getting free WiFi service so the cost pays for itself. But I have my own modem and router and run my own wifi network, I’m not paying for and don’t want wifi service bundled with my Internet.

After refusing to pay the activation fee, it seems I’m simply stuck on the lowest plan available with no options for an upgrade. Here’s hoping some competition moves in and runs fiber in the area so we can show Spectrum how much they, their horrible customer service, and their terrible price gouging tactics really mean to us with our wallets.