Kirk Goddard Larson, April 13, 2022
A Hot Springs Village restaurant has been experiencing some “Dine and Dash” thieves, or people who come in, partake of the buffet, and leave without paying. Because of the Blue Elephant Restaurant post on social media about Dine & Dash thieves, I wanted to share my experience with theft of a different sort. Much to my disappointment, I have found out there are other thieves in the Village that are stealing services.
First let me ask you a question: “Have you been trying to watch a TV Show or a Movie on Cable TV or Streaming, just to see the picture start displaying lower resolution or stop entirely, or just to see a display of a spooling image? Are you surfing the Internet, just to have your speeds slow to a crawl and/or stop? If the answer is YES read on. Here, let me start at the beginning of my experience since moving in six months ago.
I have been experiencing issues with Suddenlink internet over the past six months and it has been quite an ordeal. I’ve survived the labyrinths of Customer Service phone dead ends. I have been instructed by too many people, reading from a script because English wasn’t their native language. I have been visited by Field Service Team after Service Team to change out their own cabling and connectors four (4) times. None of these things solved my issue.
Having a fair knowledge of telephony, I knew most of the problems I was encountering weren’t from my connection to the street.
To diagnose exactly what was going on, I purchased a Motorola AC1900 Router / Model: MG7700. This router gave me the capability to examine the event logs, leading to the discovery that I was encountering between 40 to 60 crashes per day.
Because of the sporadic nature of the crashes, I knew the issues were manmade. Technicians that came to the house said that was someone else’s job, and they would put a ticket in for it. I called Suddenlink and was told the issue was “handled” but still the crashes continued.
After researching I finally discovered that Dexter Goei was the CEO of Altice USA. I sent Mr. Goei, along with a few other Suddenlink executives an email explaining my problems. Within a very short time, I was contacted by Michelle Paredez, Executive Customer Relations Specialist, Altice USA.
My issues were now elevated to the highest priority for this area. First, the technician, who is the senior instructor, came to my home along with three trainees. We discussed the issues and I showed them the crash logs. I was experiencing the crashes because of “noise” on the line.
Noise on the line is caused by:
(A) damaged equipment where the cable is encountering electrical shorts, or
(B) one or more individuals in an area having connected with unauthorized devices into the Suddenlink backbone.
While the new router helped some of my connectivity speeds it didn’t fix the noise issues in the infrastructure. Multiple maintenance crews were tasked to the Village to “sniff out” these cable issues.
Maintenance crews fixed three or four “NODES” on the west side of Hot Springs Village. A NODE is a junction from a major internet backbone into individual neighborhoods. By going to each NODE, Suddenlink can verify the signal coming into the Village is clean. By isolating signals past the NODE and between each and every individual TAP (your home’s connection at the street) Suddenlink can verify where noise is originating. Monitoring your home’s street TAP, Suddenlink
can see each modem & device’s MAC address drawing & submitting data at each home. At that point, they can see if there is a piggyback foreign signal causing noise at that home. Those homes that are not signed up and activated to receive internet and/or TV services but are pulling any amount of data from Suddenlink’s cable are a clear sign of theft by those with no contracts or service. These are the households that are not only stealing from Suddenlink but are creating noise on the system which is causing your paid services to fail.
Having taught computer science and criminal investigations for the FLETC (Federal Law Enforcement Training Center), I asked what monitor and billing software Altice was using. I also discussed with their senior technicians how to isolate and trap households that are illegally stealing internet services from Suddenlink. It turns out, this trap netted several homes that were causing a majority of the noise in the area.
Additionally, not all cable modems are created equal. Suddenlink, before being acquired by Altice, used Arris modems. Arris modems have a very high fault tolerance for noise. But after the acquisition, it was cheaper to use the inhouse Altice brand. The Altice modems as well as the Motorola modems are susceptible to noise and will crash.
So instead of waiting till all the internet thieves are removed from the system, Suddenlink’s Senior Field Technician suggested I purchase an Arris Surfboard / Model: SBG7600ACE. Problem solved.
Recap: It has been determined that most of the problems with the Suddenlink Internet service in the Village are due to internet thieves creating distortions referred to as noise on the internet infrastructure backbone. Those with inferior modem/routers (like the Altice modems), were adversely affected by the “noise” on the lines created by the internet thieves.
Customer Service had no idea of what was happening and was only authorized to tell you to reboot your modem and make a service call appointment for street-to-house cabling.
Currently, maintenance crews have been tasked to double-check all Village backbone equipment. Engineering, Billing & Technical Support have launched area sweeps to find those that are illegally connected to their lines and equipment.
An example of this theft is if someone is paying for one Suddenlink service and then piggybacks through their account to steal more services.
Suddenlink is now calculating what my credit should be for my lack of reliable internet for the last six months.
Unfortunately, after reading the Blue Elephant Restaurant’s report of Dine and Dash thieves in the Village, it appears there are those here that believe they deserve a free lunch no matter who pays for it. Apparently, there is also the same kind of entitlement mentality regarding internet services.
Computer Basics: Connecting to the Internet
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04/13/2022 — 4:15 pm
It is the policy of this website to not approve comments unless your first and last name is used. Thank you in advance for your understanding.
Missy Masterson Hale
04/13/2022 — 5:29 pm
Excellent article! Thank you for explaining this so clearly.
Michael R Shannon
04/13/2022 — 5:17 pm
This is SO depressing.
Fortunately my Suddenlink service has been fine, but if it does get flakey I’m doomed because I’m not an Internet Ninja and won’t be able to self-diagnose.
04/13/2022 — 7:09 pm
Thanks for the detailed investigation and getting SuddenLink’s attention. Hopefully your problem and that of others will be resolved by your tenacity and perseverance along with a heightened awareness by SuddenLink (Altice) of their problems. I too have had issues with SuddenLink and their almost total lack of customer service, their arrogance, incompetence and not to mention over billing and excessive charges, favoritism to new customers over old (called churning) and more. ( we can talk about Att on another thread)
But the ‘stealing’ issue, has a deeper implication. When consumers are continually overcharged, under serviced and basically abused by monopolistic entities (such as SuddenLink) or over taxed and underserved by political entities (such as your Feds, counties, cities, or in our case POA) there are bound to be repercussions. It’s not right but it is to be expected.
Such is the case here with restaurants. Folks may not talk about it much but everyone knows that for decades restaurants have been an almost total failure here in HSV. Service has been poor, food selection and quality has been awful and at the same time property owners have been not only paying at the cash register, they have been getting ripped on on POA dues to ‘subsidize’ the whole mess.
This has been further aggravated by POA allowing other outside restaurants to freely come in (into a supposedly private community) and compete with those POA owned. Stupid mistake. It has also been aggravated by further POA stupidity of requiring contracted restaurants to do things that simply didn’t make sense and were not profitable (example: Tanners which used to be successfully operating where Blue Elephant is now until they were driven out by Ill advised POA requirements).
Then, after squandering millions on restaurant subsidy, POA decides that giving free rent to operators is the solution – and, guess what, we still subsidize restaurants, the food and service is still sub par and people are still unhappy. Couple that with letting anyone and everyone who can fog a mirror enter the gates and giving employees free meals (last GM) and we have a real problem. So, some select few individuals decide that, regardless of whether or not it is a POA run establishment, they want restitution- and they steal. Not right but to be expected.
No doubt SuddenLink has the same issue. People in general are tired of overpaying to be underserved and ripped off. Five channels you ever watch but you must subscribe to and pay for 80 channels of garbage. And to ice the cake you get to watch 25 minutes per hour of mind numbing commercials so you can have 35 minutes (only) of actual content you want to see. So some decide that they will find a way around the problem – and they steal. After all, nobody in any tier of government is fixing the problem. Again, it is not right but this is basic human nature at its worst.
And then there is golf. We are continually told that we have ‘premium’ and ‘championship’ golf courses and they are so cheap compared to Hilton Head or Pebble Beach or whatever else. But they conveniently overlook the rocky, undriveable areas (much less unplayable), the broken cart paths, the muddy sloppy non-draining fairways, rocks in the bunkers and sometimes un-puttable greens (anybody remember Granada just a couple years ago?).
So, what do we have? Some folks carding in non-resident golfers on another members card, some residents who pay annually ‘loaning’ their card to others, some residents playing for free in the evenings without checking in and others that exhibit their discontent by simply not fixing their hallmarks or divots because – who cares? Might as well get my money’s worth somehow.
After all our incompetent POA governance is oblivious to the issues. Meanwhile the average daily pay property owner who might play golf 40 times per year sees his cost to play steadily increasing: surcharges, cart fee increases, green fees on dynamic pricing, exorbitant pro shop merchandise pricing and more. And the golf courses are still losing money – your subsidy dollars every year – down the drain.
So, anybody got the feel for the problem? It’s really simple. Bad government and bad governance. Fed, State, Local, POA. It’s all the same. Now with inflation not seen over over 40 years the problem will likely get worse before it gets better. It’s not right and those stealing breakfast buffet, or stealing cable, or cheating the golf course should be ashamed. But unfortunately it is to be expected.
04/13/2022 — 11:49 pm
No matter what is happening “with” or “to” Suddenlink, THEY ARE NOT A GOOD COMPANY! As a matter of fact they are a bad company. They are not a company that values customers. As a matter of fact they show disdain for customers.
I know this for several reasons: I have been their customer for about 14 years (can’t get satellite service with my trees) and have had numerous problems with them. Input to them has brought no answer or results. And I’ve put posts on Nextdoor and have seen others do so and there is nothing that will draw people with negative comments faster than the mention of their name. So anything bad that happens to them is well deserved.
To keep my bill in order I have used “AskTrim” to negotiate with them and over the years have saved nearly $1,000. I got 2 benefits from this; my bill got lowered, and maybe best of all I did not have to talk to Suddenlink.
I see lately that people are trying to get a class action lawsuit moving forward with them as the target. I need to join that suit.
Suddenlink is simply a bad example of “corporate America”!
If I can help anyone deal with Suddenlink just call me – Pat at 832-338-5925.
Kathy Henderson Oram
04/14/2022 — 7:48 am
The main problem I have with Suddenlink is that my computer goes off line several times a day. I have to touch my modem to try to get it to come up. Sometimes it won’t come up for many minutes!
04/14/2022 — 10:36 am
Thank you for the information.
04/16/2022 — 9:02 am
Thanks for the info – my mom steered me here to read this article. I just checked my modem/router and it’s the old “reliable” Arris brand, but I’ve still gone round after round with Suddenlink to fix chronic connection problems, billing problems, etc. in just the past 2 years that I’ve been here. I have to threaten cancellation every year to get the bill cut back after one of their Sudden-Increases.
One thing to note: I had a Phillips Hue lightbulb hub plugged into my Suddenlink modem/router that was also noisy and sporadically knocking it offline. I had to unplug everything and plug them back in one by one to isolate the problem to that hub. But I was a computer applications developer, used to debugging systems without tools.