Instead of catching the season premiere of Downton Abbey on Sunday night, Ferndale Patch reader Meredith Long was among many WOW! customers who were without cable service.
She and other residents in Ferndale, Troy and surrounding areas have reported problems with their WOW! cable service during the first week of January, however a WOW! official said Monday that the issue has been resolved.
Robert DiNardo, vice president and general manager for the WOW! Michigan region, said Monday afternoon that problems causing video service issues on three recent dates have been resolved as of 10 p.m. Sunday.
DiNardo said a bandwidth issue caused pixelation/tiling on some channels on Jan. 1, Jan. 2 and Jan. 6.
"On some of the channels those little boxes would scatter across the screen and break up the picture," he said. "It was a bandwidth issue on our network, so we had part of our network that was overloaded and it wouldn't allow those video streams to go through."
The outage affected many customers in the area on those select dates, however some residents wrote on Facebook that they've had cable service issues for weeks or even months.
In response to a question on Ferndale Patch's Facebook page, more than 60 people responded with many reporting anywhere from minimal TV interruptions to significant problems with their video service.
DiNardo said he is not aware of any other ongoing problems and that cable problems can also be due to faulty equipment or other reasons. He encouraged residents who are still having issues to contact WOW! at 1-866-496-9669.
"If they're still having that they need to call for a service call because the general problem that we had identified this week has been fixed," DiNardo said.
Residents also expressed frustrations over extended hold times to reach a customer service agent.
"In a case like yesterday where we have in effect two outages, that drives a lot of calls into our call center which can increase hold times," he said.
As far as customers who said they had trouble reaching an agent during the past few months, this could be related to a billing conversion that took place in late October, DiNardo said.
"We've been working to get more agents on the phone to reduce those hold times, which have gotten better over the last three weeks," he said.
The company recognizes the frustration some customers felt during the January outages - many who reported missing favorite TV shows like The Biggest Loser or Downton Abbey.
"It was pretty much 8 p.m. to 10 p.m, prime TV watching," DiNardo said.
WOW! isn't planning to issue automatic credits to customers but he said residents can call to discuss the problems they've had.
"We don't do that kind of thing because we don't know who was affected," he said. "If people feel that they would like to look into it they can call us."
He also encouraged customers to check their Video On Demand service, or the network's web site, to see if the shows they missed are available to view.
In Dearborn on Sunday, after one of the company's local lines was cut.
DiNardo said that problem was resolved by 6 p.m. Sunday and is not related to the video problem that was resolved as of 10 p.m. Sunday, but it did contribute to increased hold times.
WOW! also issued this statement:
Part of our technical system became overloaded last week – that caused intermittent bandwidth problems on about half of our television signals. Our engineers have redistributed the bandwidth load and the problem is now fixed.
When the TV signal acts up, more customers call in to see what’s going on. Just like with any business, extra traffic can overload our phone lines. So in addition to having problems with their TV viewing, many customers got busy signals when they called in. We know how frustrating that is – that’s not how we like to do business at WOW!
We take customer service very seriously at WOW! – everyone at this company is absolutely dedicated to making sure that every customer has a great experience with us, every time. So we’re embarrassed that we let our customers down. We apologize for the problems we’ve caused, and want to assure you that we’re taking the necessary steps to make sure they don’t happen again.