Home » Consumer News »Internet Overcharging »Time Warner Cable » Currently Reading:

Time Warner Cable Faces Class Action Suits in NY, NJ Over Modem Fees

Phillip Dampier November 14, 2012 Consumer News, Internet Overcharging, Time Warner Cable 2 Comments

Two class-action lawsuits were filed Tuesday on behalf of Time Warner Cable customers in 29 states to force the company to refund ill-gotten modem rental fees in violation of consumer fraud laws.

“It’s a massive hi-tech consumer fraud accomplished by low-tech methods,” said attorney Steven L. Wittels. “Send customers confusing notice of the fee in a junk mail postcard they’ll throw in the garbage, sock them with a $500 million dollar a year rate hike, then announce on your website that customer satisfaction is your #1 priority. That’s some way to deliver satisfaction.”

The context for the class action suit is that Time Warner Cable began imposing the fee Nov. 1 without giving customers appropriate notification. New York City residents had little more than two weeks notice in the form of a poorly printed postcard. Some residents in western New York and other cities have still not received notification from the cable company, either on bills or in the mail.

The two lawsuits were brought on behalf of Manhattan resident Kathleen McNally and Fort Lee, N.J. resident Natalie Lenett, but the suit asks the court to order refunds for all Time Warner Cable customers charged modem fees across their national service area.

The Consumerist thought the company’s failure to meet the timely notification requirement about the forthcoming modem rental fee might have the cable company dead to rights:

Pricing and Service Changes

Unless otherwise provided by applicable law, Time Warner Cable will notify you 30 days in advance of any price or service change. Notice of these changes may be provided on your monthly bill, as a bill insert, as a separate mailing, in the Legal Notice section of the newspaper, on the cable system channel(s) or through other written means.

But on closer examination, that provision only applies to pricing and service changes for Time Warner Cable’s television service, not broadband or home phone service.

In fact, Time Warner Cable’s new Subscriber Agreement has reserved the right to change just about anything it likes, just by updating the terms and conditions on its website:

We May Change our Customer Agreements

(a) We may change our Customer Agreements by amending the on-line version of the relevant document.  Unless you have entered into an Addendum that ensures a fixed price for a period of time (for instance, a Price Lock Guarantee Addendum), we may also change the prices for our services or the manner in which we charge for them.

(b) If you continue to use the Services following any change in our Customer Agreements, prices or other policies, you will have accepted the changes (in other words, made them legally binding).  If you do not agree to the changes, you will need to contact your local TWC office to cancel your Services.

(c) Any changes to our Customer Agreements are intended to be prospective only.  In other words, the amended version of the relevant document only becomes binding on you as of the date that we make the change.

One significant change Time Warner inserted in its Subscriber Agreement (the one printed in tiny print on tissue-thin paper, occasionally mailed with your bill) was deemed so important, it appears highlighted and in bold language:

Time Warner Cable now requires customers to submit disputes individually to binding arbitration, denying the right to bring or participate in any class action case. However, customers can opt-out of this provision simply by notifying the company through an online form. (You will need your Time Warner Cable account number.)

In practice, this would require McNally, Lenett, and millions of other customers to individually submit to a time-consuming arbitration proceeding — all to fight a $3.95 monthly fee. Few would bother. Wittels told The Consumerist the lawsuit still has merits because of other language Time Warner Cable maintains in its agreement which he believes holds the door open to a class action challenge.

Although customers are invited to purchase their own cable modem equipment to avoid the fee, the lawyers involved say the options are limited and expensive.

Currently there are 2 comments on this Article:

  1. R says:

    How does one join the lawsuits?

  2. LG says:

    Why would anyone sign in to opt out?

Search This Site:

Contributions:

Recent Comments:

  • feather bed: Quality articles or reviews is the important to attract the viewers to pay a visit the website, that's what this website is providing....
  • Ralph: I absolutely love this comment, “As we’ve said before, the speed tests are the result of self-selected, self-reported samples,” Page said. “People who...
  • onlinehairclinic: Some infectionhs such aas fungal infections of the scalp, an underlying diseaselike diabetes orr lupus, scarring due to wearing pigtails, coornrows o...
  • Dekay: I was one of those unlucky Millenicom customers who just had their plan ($90/month) abruptly terminated. To get the same plan through Verizon would co...
  • Damian: Thank you for this article. I am currently with Comcast and have 50 Mbps internet speeds. I pump out a monthly average of 600 GB of data usage each m...
  • AustinTX: It's almost like Comcast has a crack team to identify anyone who is getting close to exposing them... and then giving them the push they need to go co...
  • James Cieloha: I prefer that the FCC comes with the idea of the most severe stiffest punishment handed down from the FCC being called the euthanization death penalty...
  • BobInIllinois: As a licensed CPA and auditor, this is very shocking, but very believable when one works for a Big CPA firm. I worked at a small firm, so this kind o...
  • Haiyez: I just got off the phone. I have U450 & Max Plus internet. I was paying $140 a month. The promo is over and now it's about $200 a month. Bes...
  • Fred Pilot: When a service provider views its customers as adversaries, an act like this is construed as enemy action, resulting in the blow up reported here....
  • Atreidae: That's if you live in a "class 1" area. I'm still well withn "metro melbourne" yet my exchange only has Telstra ports and their considered regional. S...
  • LoomsinJune: " I told her that I will just go ahead and cancel my service and sign up with Time Warner and she seemed more than happy to do that than offer to drop...

Your Account: