Make us your home page
Instagram

Senators find cable TV users aren't refunded for overcharges

Kathleen Mayo, executive vice president of customer operations at Charter Communications, testifies Thursday before a Senate subcommittee hearing on billing and customer service practices in the cable and satellite television industry. [Associated Press] 

Kathleen Mayo, executive vice president of customer operations at Charter Communications, testifies Thursday before a Senate subcommittee hearing on billing and customer service practices in the cable and satellite television industry. [Associated Press] 

WASHINGTON — A Senate investigation of cable TV costs released Thursday criticized two major cable companies for consistently failing to provide refunds to customers they knew had been overcharged.

The Senate Permanent Investigations subcommittee found Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications made no effort to trace set-top box equipment overcharges and to provide refunds to customers.

"Instead, their practice has been to just pocket the past overcharges," a report on the investigation said.

Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications recently merged. The merger also includes the acquisition of Bright House Networks, which serves much of the Tampa Bay area.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, the subcommittee's chairman, called the overcharges a "ripoff" and said thousands of Ohio cable TV customers were affected.

Kathleen Mayo, executive vice president of customer operations at Charter Communications, said a company audit determined that less than 1 percent of its customers using set-top boxes were overbilled. Mayo said the company will explain to customers that they were overcharged and give them a one-year credit.

Time Warner Cable estimates customers were overbilled $640,000 nationwide in the first four months of 2016, according to the subcommittee's report. The company overbilled consumers nationwide by about $2 million annually for the past six years, the report said.

Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, the subcommittee's top Democrat, described how cable TV consumers are lured in with rock-bottom prices that are progressively increased. Byzantine customer service operations reward only consumers willing to get mad to get what they want.

"The business model that has grown up in pay TV is, figure out a way to make the entry price as low as possible, figure out how to roll people off that entry price as quickly as you can and then deal with their anger once they realize the price has gone up," she said. "The angrier they get, the more likely they are to get something from you."

Senators find cable TV users aren't refunded for overcharges 06/23/16 [Last modified: Friday, June 24, 2016 9:21am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Another Hollywood nursing home resident dies. It's the 9th in post-Irma tragedy.

    State Roundup

    The Broward County Medical Examiner's office is investigating another death of a resident of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills — the ninth blamed on the failure of a cooling system that became a stifling deathtrap three days after Irma hit.

    Carlos Canal, pictured at 47 years old, came to Miami from Cuba in 1960. Above is his citizenship photo. [Courtesy of Lily Schwartz]
  2. Despite Hurricane Irma, Hillsborough remains on pace to unlock hotel tax that could pay for Rays ballpark

    Tourism

    TAMPA — Despite the threat of a catastrophic storm, it was business as usual at many Hillsborough County hotels in the days before Hurricane Irma bore down on the Tampa Bay region.

    The Grand Hyatt near TIA closed during Hurricane Irma, but many other Hillsborough hotels were open and saw an influx.
  3. New Graham-Cassidy health care plan stumbles under opposition from governors

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — The suddenly resurgent Republican effort to undo the Affordable Care Act was dealt a blow on Tuesday when a bipartisan group of governors came out against a proposal gaining steam in the Senate.

    Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., joined by, from left, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., speaks to reporters as he pushes a last-ditch effort to uproot former President Barack Obama's health care law, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. To win, 50 of the 52 GOP senators must back it -- a margin they failed to reach when the chamber rejected the effort in July. [/J. Scott Applewhite | Associated Press]
  4. Early estimates peg Hurricane Irma damage at as much as $65B

    Banking

    The damage totals from Hurricane Irma are still being tallied, but early numbers are in: As of Tuesday, the storm is estimated to have caused between $42.5 billion and $65 billion of damage. That's according to a Tuesday release by Irvine, Calif.-based analytics company CoreLogic.

    Hurricane Irma is estimated to have caused up to $65 billion in damage, said analytics company CoreLogic. Pictured is 
Hermilo Munoz Castillo as wades down a flooded street to check on his home in southern Collier County, Fla. after Hurricane Irma passed. | [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  5. Port Tampa Bay makes public/private commitment for $60 million expansion project

    Business

    TAMPA — Port Tampa Bay approved a public-private partnership agreement with four other entities to divvy up who will pay for a $60 million widening and extension of the Big Bend Channel.

    Port Tampa Bay approved a participation agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Florida Department of Transportation, Tampa Electric Company and Mosaic Company at the port's monthly board meeting on  Tuesday. Port Tampa Bay President & CEO Paul Anderson signs the agreement as Ram Kancharla; Port Tampa Bay's vice president of planning & development, Brandon Burch; project manager at United States Army Corps of Engineers, Lois Moore; of Alcalde and Fay and Charles Klug; Port Tampa Bay principal counsel, and Tim Murphy; deputy district engineer of the Army Corps., looks on. [Company handout]