Charter complaints down

Gretchen Hoffman

A year after Charter Communications opened the doors to a regional

call center -- resulting in a flood of complaints about customer

service -- officials say the cable company is consistently meeting

industry standards for call- response times.

The call center has more than doubled the number of custo-

mer-service representatives, to 600 employees, and is answering 90%

of calls in 30 seconds or less, Charter spokeswoman Sandra Magana

said. Charter Communications serves about 49,000 customers in

Glendale, Burbank and La Canada Flintridge.

The problem came after Charter Communications decided to

consolidate six local call centers -- including one in Burbank that

also served Glendale and La Canada Flintridge -- into one regional

site in Irwindale, Magana said. The Burbank office was flooded Dec.

1, 2001, forcing a premature move.

"The challenge came when we moved Burbank employees into

Irwindale," Magana said. "We had to move them in advance."

Statistics about call-response times before the move were not

available because paperwork was destroyed in the flood, Magana said.

But Burbank officials have said the company had not been responding

to calls in 30 seconds 63% of the time in October and 56% during

September.

After the Burbank site closed, city officials in Burbank and

Glendale -- both franchise cities -- were deluged with complaints

about the length of time it was taking to get a customer-service

representative on the phone.

"During the transition, it was awful, but it's way better than it

was," said Bob Kramer, Burbank's community assistance coordinator.

"Right now, we're down to about two or three [complaints] a day, if

that many."

Earlier this year, Burbank officials were receiving about 20

complaints a day, he added.

Glendale officials too were inundated with complaints. In January,

the city was getting about 50 calls a day about being put on hold for

long periods of time or not answering the phone quickly enough.

"They were putting people on hold for like a half-hour," Glendale

Public Information Officer Ritch Wells said. "It has changed

dramatically."

The city has received just two complaints in the past six months

about the time it took to speak to a customer-service representative,

he added.

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