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Time Warner Rochester Ups the Ante Against Frontier – ‘We’ll Pay Your Early Disconnect Penalty’

Phillip Dampier June 22, 2009 Frontier, TWC (see Charter) 19 Comments

Time Warner Cable’s Rochester, New York division has been playing hardball in Frontier Communications’ largest metropolitan service area for years, running ads that attack Frontier’s term contracts, inconsistent broadband speeds, hidden “extras”, and the fact customers might sign a contract today and be dissatisfied with the service tomorrow.

This morning, Time Warner Cable upped the ante with new ads, telling Frontier’s Rochester area customers who would prefer phone or broadband service from the cable company that they’ll cover up to $200 in fees Frontier charges for exiting a term contract early.

[flv]http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/TW-Frontier Ad War 6-22-09.flv[/flv]

There is, of course, the fine print:

Offer expires 6/26/09.  Up to $200 one-time credit available to current Frontier phone and/or DSL customers in a contract with a disconnect penalty who provide their Frontier bill evidencing early disconnect charge.  Credit will be applied to Time Warner Cable account after customer is installed with Digital Phone Nationwide and/or Road Runner Standard Service and within two weeks after customer supplies copy of Frontier bill to TWC showing the applicable cancellation penalty.  Credit will be equal to the amount of the early disconnect charge, not to exceed $200.  One credit per qualified household.  Customer must keep TWC services for a minimum of 12 months or the up to $200 credit will be charged back to their TWC account.

What Time Warner Cable has just effectively done is to get the subscriber out of one term contract with Frontier, and into another… with them.

Currently there are 19 comments on this Article:

  1. BrionS says:

    It’s always “caveat emptor” in these situations. Is anyone here honestly surprised that TWC would employ a minimum length of service instead of just handing out $200 checks to people to leave Frontier for 2 weeks and then go back $155 richer?

    When it comes to service providers and car dealers you always have to look for the catch (usually found in the fine print).

    I feel pity for anyone who actually does this switch only to discover they’re locked into a 12 month contract with TWC during which time they may institute CBB and end up costing those users far more than $200 in disconnect fees.

  2. Smith6612 says:

    I’ve seen this happen with Time Warner, Cablevision, and Comcast against Verizon’s FiOS as well. It’s not a surprise to see this happening one bit.

  3. Ron Dafoe says:

    I wonder if this was a way to get people to come back to TW. This is the first time that TW has done a contract in the Rochester area that I am aware of.

    This really makes me wonder how much business they lost with their cap announcement in this area, and knowing that people signed a 1 or 2 year agreement with Frontier.

    • preventCAPS says:

      And so they get their Frontier customers back, and then drop the CBB like the atomic bomb and now consumers are not only responsible for the $200 Frontier termination fee, but TWC’s termination fees also! Gee, I think the Cable Company likes this double whammies!

      • Andrew Madigan says:

        People, get this right. Time Warner does NOT charge termination fees.

        • MMiller says:

          Yes they do! If you are in a contract that states you have a termination fee for cancelling, then there is a termination fee. I was very specific when I cancelled my TW service and asked if I was under any contract with them, the customer service person had to look it up to make sure.

        • It depends on the service area, Andrew. Many TWC service areas do have “price protection agreements” with early termination fees. Rochester is not one of them, except if you do take advantage of this particular offer, do not remain a customer in good standing for one year, the credit you initially received will be charged back to your account. Frankly, it would be the leftover Frontier penalty you’d be stuck back with in this case.

  4. Uncle Ken says:

    Guess its time for frontier to ditch their term contract concept. Only people that hate it worse are cell phone users.

  5. Michael Chaney says:

    “Stay because you want to… Not because you have to.”

    Blatant false advertising. If you break your contract with TWC, not only will you be charged the $200 Frontier credit, but will have to pay TWC’s early termination fee as well. This isn’t “freeing yourself” from anything….just compounding the penalties.

    • Andrew Madigan says:

      TWC does not have early termination fees (or contracts), and hasn’t for as long as I’ve known about them. This was very handy when I canceled by RoadRunner and Digital Cable service and switched to OTA and DSL when I heard they were planning on instituting caps.

      For that matter, you can get DSL without a contract from Frontier, but you’ll pay more for it (I opted for a contract).

      What Time Warner is doing here makes sense, and its not really a contract. Basically they’ll pay your disconnect fee if you keep them for a year. This is nothing compared to charging $200 for disconnecting (that’s a lot more than the activation/installation fee Frontier waves when you go for a contract). They’re still not charging you a disconnect fee for their service, they’re just not paying the fee for the contract that you entered with Frontier.

      Sure, if you really don’t want a contract, don’t do this. I don’t see any problem with it in general though. The problem is caps, not every marketing gimmick that TW comes up with.

      • I understand their rationale for doing this and don’t really have a major problem with it, as long as it’s well disclosed to consumers up front. It’s designed to keep someone from jumping to TW on some promotion and then jumping back to Frontier to score another one of their new customer promotions.

        TW probably shouldn’t pay for a customer’s ETF if that customer jumps ship on them straight away. Customers will ping pong back and forth riding on new customer promotions, and this is designed to keep TWC from eating $200 for a customer who will jump back to Frontier at the first sign of a new promo.

        I do find it ironic though they are effectively capturing a customer for 12 months (even if that customer had less than that on their Frontier term agreement) while (in other ads) bashing Frontier for doing the same thing.

        This would be a better deal if the one year commitment was “12 months, or the remaining number of months left on your Frontier contract, whichever is less.”

        • Andrew Madigan says:

          > This would be a better deal if the one year commitment was “12 months, or the remaining number of months left on your Frontier contract, whichever is less.”

          Well, of course then you could be switching to them with only a month left on your contract. Then you end up paying 1 month of TW’s fee instead of $200 to Frontier. I can see someone doing that if they were moving. It’s primarily a gimmick, with enough protection that they won’t lose money on it. I can’t see someone switching to TW just for this though, they probably want to boost their subscription numbers temporarily.

  6. Mazakman says:

    Well I think that this is a very fair offer. The bottom line is that TW has the best internet service in town and easier to understand bills ! LOL.

  7. Uncle Ken says:

    Mazakman: Yes they are the better option right now so I saved your
    comment in a text file and in fun if they do cap im going to ask you
    about how you feel then.

    • Mazakman says:

      That will be fine Uncle Ken. If I was in an agreement right now with Frontier and wanted to get out…I would jump at this offer. As I have documented elsewhere… Frontier cannot compete with RR in this area if you compare the fees and taxes associated with their services. If RR caps, then guess what… we still may choose them as our provider and bite the bullet. If and when that happens, I shall compare the relative offerings and cost of each and then decide who to go with.

      • BrionS says:

        If TWC institutes caps that imact my bottom line (i.e. it costs me more for the same or lower level of service) then I will seriously consider working with who I have to go strongly push for a private/public municipal broadband partnership. I say private/public in order to get around the opposition to a public option “run by the government”. I think it would be very cool to start a non-profit broadband service working in partnership with the city of Rochester to compete with Time Warner at cost.

        The startup capital would need to be raised without the use of tax dollars, but if Wilson, NC and Monticello, MN can do it, so can we!

        • preventCAPS says:

          Why do the caps have to hurt your bottom line before you support something wonderful like this? Isn’t the whole idea of caps/anti-net-neutrality enough motivation?

          • BrionS says:

            Because quite frankly it would be the straw the breaks the proverbial camel’s back. I don’t have a lot of time or money to put into an endeavor like this, but caps would fundamentally impact my life and my routine (I am *very* dependent on Internet access to pay bills, keep in touch with family and friends, and generally unwind).

            If I were retired and/or had a lot of time and money for this, then yes I’d probably start it right away. Necessity is the mother of invention as it’s said (can I fit any more cliches into this?).

            But perhaps if we could get a manageable working group of people all interested in getting this project underway and we could figure out a way to finance it (particularly the investment capital is problematic), then I’d be all for that.

      • Andrew Madigan says:

        I recently switched to DSL. I have been having some troubles with the lines (I previously had no phone service, the line was actually bad!), but aside from that, this has been my experience:

        * I was paying $50/month to TW (I don’t have cable TV, and I had standard RR), I’m paying frontier $41.36
        * The extra fees on both seem comparable, though they should really advertise that it’s $40, not $35. TW includes the modem charge in their advertised price (though it is separate on the bill).
        * I have a 3MB down/400KB up connection. Compared to my TW connection, torrenting and streaming Hulu and Netflix are more stable. I leave this to the fact that I don’t have local congestion getting to the cable node.
        * The tech support people and the field people are both very knowledgeable and willing to work with a technically proficient customer that has very specific requirements for his connection.

        Yes, I’m in a contract, for about $15 or so more per month (plus activation and installation fees), I could be contract free.

        For most people, speed and price are the big issues. The price is lower than what I was paying. The connection is far more responsive. In fact, heavy download applications have been running *faster* on this connection. Again, you have to remember that RR does not have a stable fast speed. This is worsened by their “TurboBoost”.

        I’m not a Frontier shill, and your experience may vary, but so far DSL has been working better for me than RR.

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