Home » Consumer News »Internet Overcharging »Time Warner Cable/Spectrum » 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/Spectrum 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:

  • directv: directv now is a pretty awesome service. i have tried dish sling and definitely prefer the layout of directv now much better. pricing is pretty good a...
  • Gluta Lachel di Malang: For hottest information you have to pay a visit internet and on internet I found this web site as a finest web site for hottest updates....
  • Cream Pemutih Wajah Bpom: Thanks for sharing your thoughts about Sabun Pemutih Kulit. Regards...
  • Cara Mengecilkan Perut: Can I just say what a relief to uncover somebody that really understands what they are talking about over the internet. You actually know how to brin...
  • Fiforlif Pelangsing Perut: I must thank you for the efforts you've put in writing this site. I really hope to check out the same high-grade blog posts by you in the future as...
  • debra Gruber: FRONTIER SAID they were giving me promotional credit. for 1 year. I have called them several times regarding this, there is no promotion showing on my...
  • Ryan: Better yet,dump ATSC and switch to DVB-T2. The FCC is considering this. DVB-T2 can recieve signals while moving. Some NC stations even tested DVB-T2 a...
  • Switeck: DSL is shared at the DSLAM level -- these are expensive devices often with limited backhaul, sometimes resulting in even worse contention ratios than ...
  • Lee: With the change in over the air from analog to digital, it is now possible to encrypt the signal and charge for over the air. I expect that to happen....
  • Josh: All the more reason to dump cable and do free ATSC over the air. Of course they want to take away even MORE of our bandwidth so Verizon or Comcas...
  • Lee: DSL lines are not shared. COAX and Fiber lines are shared. You will NOT get a coax or fiber line for home use that is not shared, and there is no reas...
  • kevin: Nope - just had my TWC bill increase over 170 without any premium channels. They say nothing they can do, all packages are more and if I switch now t...

Your Account: