A U.S. Senate investigation just gave consumers a reason to cut the cord. According to a report released Friday, TWC overcharged customers nationwide an estimated $639,948 between January and April this year, with the projected yearly total pegged at $1,919,844.
On top of all that, Charter, TWC’s new parent company as of May, told the Senate’s Subcommittee that it “over-billed customers by at least $442,691 per month,” which works out to $5,312,292 per year.
That’s $7.2 million in faulty charges. So what caused it?
Over the course of a six-and-a-half year timeframe analyzed by the subcommittee, “Time Warner Cable and Charter made no effort to trace equipment overcharges to their origin unless customers specifically asked them to and did not provide notice or refunds to customers,” they said in the report. Worse still, “Time Warner Cable and Charter did not automatically refund or credit customers for equipment overcharges they discovered.”
Fortunately, TWC and Charter have agreed to amend their policies. However, for its part, TWC said it “will not investigate when it began overcharging those customers unless customers bring specific concerns to the company’s attention.” The new policies will alert customers to overcharges and help them decide whether to take a credit or refund.
In response to a request for comment, a Charter spokesperson provided the following statement via email:
“An audit of our set-top box charges over the last nine months found them to be over 99% accurate. To move us closer to 100% accuracy and permanently resolve this issue, we have installed new controls to ensure discrepancies are caught and eliminated on a daily basis. Charter customers who were incorrectly charged for set-top boxes are being notified and given a 12-month credit for these fees. … We will put controls into place to catch such instances daily [at TWC], as we now have installed at Charter, but that will take approximately 60 to 90 days. Until then, we will proactively issue a one-month credit to any TWC customer that the current monthly process reveals was overcharged.”
If you’re thinking of switching cable providers, be sure you know where your credit stands. It isn’t uncommon for utility and cable companies to run a credit check when you apply, and you could potentially pay a larger deposit if you have bad credit. You can view your free credit scores, updated each month, on Credit.com. Not making sense of it all? You can read our tips for understanding your credit score.
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Image: Craig McCausland