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Time Warner Cable’s Regular Install Fee is $35, But If You Have a Long Driveway: $12,000

Phillip Dampier July 21, 2010 Consumer News, Public Policy & Gov't, Rural Broadband, Time Warner Cable 9 Comments

Lee, Massachusetts is located in broadband sparse western Massachusetts

Mark Williams is the kind of customer Time Warner Cable would normally love to have.  He wants the complete, super deluxe Time Warner triple play — cable, digital phone, and especially broadband service for his home-based business.

Time Warner wants Williams to have their service, too — but for a price.  Instead of charging the regular $35 installation fee, the cable company wants him to pay $12,000 to install his service, because, they claim, Williams’ driveway is 100 feet too long.  Time Warner says the $35 dollar installation fee is only for homes within 200 feet of the nearest utility pole.  Williams home is 300 feet away.  He doesn’t mind paying something extra to cover the additional 100 feet, but not $12,000.

The town of Lee, Berkshire County, in western Massachusetts, managed to wrangle a franchise agreement from Time Warner Cable that entitles every home and business to cable service if electric and telephone service are already available.  That’s unique for many smaller communities, who routinely have cable service available in town, but not in outlying areas.  Cable companies hate wiring rural density neighborhoods, where the costs to wire comparatively few homes takes too long to earn back from the few subscribers they can reach.

But Time Warner found themselves a loophole — a “long driveway” clause in the franchise agreement that allows them to charge more for installing service to homes set far back from the road.

Now, according to the Berkshire Eagle, Lee’s representative to the Five Town Cable Television Advisory Committee is calling out Time Warner, claiming they are misinterpreting the town’s franchise agreement and wants the Lee Board of Selectman to start imposing fines against the cable company if they don’t relent within 30 days.

Malcolm Chisholm says the real reason Time Warner wants to charge $12,000 is because Williams’ home is roughly a half-mile away from the closest Time Warner Cable subscriber, not because his driveway is too long.

“We just want to put pressure on them,” Chisholm said. “We’re just trying to get them to follow the agreement.”

Chisholm said Time Warner Cable “won’t talk to us” about Williams’ situation. The Eagle was also unable to get a response from officials at the company’s regional office in Albany, N.Y.

The newspaper decided that since Time Warner Cable wasn’t responding to its private inquiries, it would air its views on the editorial page.

If a Lee resident moved into a cave in October Mountain State Forest, Time Warner Cable might be justified in charging him $12,000 to run cable there so he watch the Red Sox on NESN and keep up with the Kardashians on VH-1. But the $12,000 the cable giant wants to charge a resident who lives near the Tyringham line is preposterous, and beyond that provides the latest evidence of the desperate need for expanded broadband service throughout the rural Berkshires.

Because Mark Williams lives roughly a half-mile away from the closest Time Warner subscriber, his installation fee escalates from the standard $35 to $12,000, which may as well be $120,000 it is so devoid of logic. Mr. Williams appears to be an eager customer too, one who wants the entire cable/Internet package Time Warner is regularly flogging.

Currently there are 9 comments on this Article:

  1. Ian L says:

    In all fairness, a half mile of cabling, at $4-$5 per foot, really adds up. In fact, it adds up to about $12,000. TWC wanted $9000 to bring me service after I pushed them to tell me how much it would take to extend service 2215 feet to my house about two miles outside Fredericksburg, TX city limits. That same $9000, plus $50 per month over two years ($1200), works out to $425 per month to get RoadRunner Turbo to my location. This is why I’m working to create a new wireless ISP in the area.

    I wonder if the guy in question has overhead utilities…underground makes things VERY expensive. Also, if TWC has to rent power poles from the local electrical company to go the extra half mile, that’s $15 or $20 in monthly fees right there for a single customer…

  2. Anonymous says:

    Simple… demolish their 200ft argument…

    Buy a shed, place it 200ft from the road, and have time warner install cable there. 100ft of coax is relatively cheap.

  3. Anthony says:

    Comcast wanted to charge me $16,000 for 1/4 of a mile even though there are 7-10 houses between me and the end of the line. This is for my business and family usage, we would have got the 2nd best business internet package + TV / Voice for home and business but they turned out didn’t really want to do it. Oh and “not being a customer long enough” wouldn’t be an issue cause I offered to sign a 30 year contract with “me paying for build costs” if i cancel. No deal.

    In the end as we got closer to paying the money for it they told us “No not gonna happen”… Imagine that.

  4. Bev says:

    I’m not too happy with Time Werner Cable. They just took off the Travel Channel and the Animal Planet Channel. Both there were no warning that they were going to to it. Now I have at least 4 open channels where they are just blank. I did call TW and was told sorry but your out of luck and no replacement for those empty channels. I was told I could get a converter for a year free but will be charged after that $7.50+ a month. There programming channels are sooo bad It should put them to shame! I think I’m going to start looking at other alternatives. The only thing good I can say about TW is the internet works great!

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