By on March 10, 2015

DISSTongue(Un)Chartered waters

Charter Communications is a giant junk show.

The cable/Internet/phone provider formerly known as Bresnan-cum-Optimum has fumbled the handoff from previous valley providers and brought customer service to a new low.

Councilman Don Frank, in his standard politicalese-speak said, “In my view this negotiation has been an exercise in great energy resulting in diminishing returns to this town and our citizens.” Those words coming out the mouth of other frustrated customers might sound more like: “Charter, you suck.”

This columnist’s own experience with the St. Louis-based provider is typical of most customers on the Charter chain gang. Promised Internet speeds were not met. Outages and service disruptions were a regular occurrence. And billing was beyond bizarre and chocked full of mysterious charges.

This, all before attempting contact with an agent. If crappy, outdated equipment and spotty coverage are the gateway to Dante’s circles of hell, contacting customer service is a combination of Circles 1, 5, 7 and 9: Limbo, Anger, Violence and Treachery. Calls to local representatives were impossible. Visits to the local office were often fruitless (and now impossible since the branch closed on January 29). And clear your schedule for the day if you dare call the “888” number.

It’s not just Frank and I who have bloodied our head while banging it against the brick wall of customer service. Charter receives a solid 1-star rating on Yelp with three of the five reviews coming from valley prisoners (customers).

Theresa D. from Wilson wrote: “Charter reactivated phone line on my account and began billing me for it without notifying me. This line was cancelled under Optimum 2 years ago. BEWARE of all charges [and] rate increases.”

David H. from Jackson added: “I thought Bresnan was mediocre and Optimum was OK, but ever since they switched to Charter my TV and Internet have been screwed up. They came and switched my router to a newer one, but that has not helped. I get no HD TV, my Smart TV does not work right anymore, and I cannot get help because the accounts for Wyoming have not been transferred to Charter properly after a year.”

Charter’s poor quality service has affected countless individual users and IT companies like Factory IT. Silverstar’s fiber optics overhaul is practically negated by backend support that is continually below expectation. Talk about putting the “less” in wireless.

Officials from Town of Jackson are so fed up with the company they called Charter executives to a public flogging. Results were unsatisfying enough that the town’s website now includes contact info for Charter’s top brass right at the top of the page at the behest of councilman Jim Stanford.

DISSTongueBudge insurance: A sliding scale

A new issue dogs residents of Budge Butte. The Hillside Condo Association is dangerously close to losing their insurance policy because no long-term fix for the slide has been identified.

Coverage has been denied by Acuity, Allied, Allstate, American Hallmark, Berkshire Hathaway, CNA, Cincinnati, Continental Western, EMC, The Hartford, Lloyds of London, Mid Continent, Philadelphia, Scottsdale, The Travelers, and United Fire. Only one insurer is currently even considering covering HCA and, if not declined, is expected to be extremely costly.

Bob McLaurin (Town Administrator), Larry Pardee (Director of Public Works), George Machan (Landslide Technologies) have been working on a plan of attack to stabilize the Budge Drive slide but work is not expected to begin until June.

A slow melt has kept problems from materializing again but the hillside is always one rainy weekend away from additional sloughing.

DISSTongueBugling bunched: Wintering elk not dispersed enough

The good news is elk numbers are darn near close to ideal, according to wildlife managers. The bad news is most of the elk prefer city life.

The latest counts peg the wapiti population at about 10,600 on the dole. That’s right around the projected 11,000 animals National Elk Refuge personnel target for a healthy population for the Jackson Hole herd. The problem is too many have migrated into the main refuge – about 8,390 – well above the targeted carrying capacity of 5,000.

By contrast, the upper Gros Ventre herd was tallied at 1,160 – a third of what should be there and the lowest number recorded in a dozen of years. High birth rates pushed the town elk numbers. It’s not entirely clear whether Gros Ventre elk decided to winter closer to the big city lights, escalating numbers further. Wolf activity in the Gros Ventre decimated herds a few years ago as cow-calf ratios plummeted.

About Jake Nichols

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