Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo has filed a civil lawsuit against Time Warner Cable, alleging it deceived and ripped off its subscribers, providing inferior service for months.
The complaint accuses TWC of engaging in numerous fraudulent acts andbusiness practices that resulted in consumers
- paying more for cable television services than they were led tobelieve they would be charged;
- experiencing excessive service outages;
- spending hours on the phone before reaching a customer servicerepresentative — or never reaching one at all;
- having their livelihoods affected by Internet outages and poorInternet service; and
- being billed for poor service or services they had canceledaltogether.
Time Warner increased its share of the cable market after teaming with Comcast in 2006 to buy out bankrupt Adelphia Communications. Time Warner and Comcast then reorganized their franchises so each would dominate markets in different U.S. regions.
Approximately 480,000 consumers were affected by the transition from Adelphia to Time Warner, said Frank Mateljan, spokesperson for the Los Angeles City Attorney’soffice.
“We’ve been reviewing several consumer complaints since the acquisition and have determined that legal action needs to be taken,” he told CRM Buyer.
According to the complaint, TWC routinely failed to comply with the City of Los Angeles’ Subscriber Service Standards, which require that a company answer subscribers’ calls within 30 seconds and begin repairs of service interruptions within 24 hours of notification.
Following the Adelphia acquisition, the complaint alleges, TWC customers were frequently subjected not only to lengthy call wait times, but also to poor treatment from unknowledgeable and rude representatives. TWC technicians consistently arrived late to fix outages or other problems — or failed to show up altogether.
In addition to providing substandard service, TWC made false and misleading representations such as guaranteeing that customers’ prices would not go up when it shifted channels previously offered as part of a basic television package topremium packages, the complaint says. The company also allegedly broke its promise that there would be no service interruption. Many users experienced significant outages.
Delgadillo is asking the court to permanently enjoin TWC from engaging in any further unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business acts and practices, and to order it to take appropriate action to prevent future violations of the city statutes.
In addition, Delgadillo is seeking US$2,500 in civil penalties for eachviolation under the Unfair Competition Law, as well as an additional $2,500 civil penalty for each violation against one or more senior citizen or disabled person.
TWC could ultimately be fined “millions and millions of dollars,” Mateljan said.
Despite the accusations, Time Warner Cable continues to stand behind its service, insisting that it has already made tremendous improvements and will continue make more.
“We are incredibly proud of the services we are providing to the Los Angeles area,” Alex Dudley, a spokesperson for Time Warner, told CRM Buyer.
“We understand that the transition period has been difficult,” he added, “but since then, we’ve made some great strides and are looking forward to sharing that progress with the city attorney’s office and whomever else may be interested.”