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Spectrum Customer Service Reps Apologizing for Awful Pricing

Phillip Dampier August 14, 2017 Charter Spectrum, Consumer News, Public Policy & Gov't 4 Comments

…for our outrageous pricing!

Spectrum’s customer service agents are apologizing to customers for the rate shock they are experiencing when their existing Time Warner Cable or Bright House Networks promotions expire and customers find out the Spectrum plans and pricing being offered instead turn out to be nothing close to the deals customers used to get.

“You may get a call asking about my performance today, the survey is about me and my job today only,” a customer service agent explained to Jason, a Spectrum customer in Elmhurst, N.Y., who shared his experience on DSL Reports. “It doesn’t have anything to do with how you feel about Spectrum or TWC. If you are upset about the new pricing, please use the comments portion to explain. I look forward to hearing your feedback.”

Customer service representatives are on the front line of delivering bad news to cable customers facing double-digit rate increases, especially when customers realize they also receive fewer TV channels after changing plans.

“I’m guessing these agents must be getting destroyed in the surveys, [and] having worked retail where these types of surveys are used, I felt bad for the reps,” explained the Spectrum customer. “I know in my neighborhood, everyone seems to have their TWC promos expiring in the next month or so and are very unhappy.”

That unhappiness is getting worse as word about Charter Communications’ mid-year rate increase is showing up on customer bills. Broadband prices are increasing at least $1 a month, the Broadcast TV Surcharge is rising to $7.50 a month, and set-top box equipment rentals also increased by $1 a month for each piece of equipment starting in August 2017.

Premium speed broadband customers are now also facing a higher internet bill.

Spectrum’s Ultra tier, which is 100Mbps in some markets, 300Mbps in others, is increasing to $119.99 a month, up from $104.99 in most markets. The increase is less if you also subscribe to Spectrum TV, which reduces the rate to $113.99 a month. Spectrum rate cards from around the country do not yet reflect the $1 rate increase for traditional Spectrum 60/5Mbps internet (100Mbps in select markets):

Low income customers enrolled in Spectrum’s Everyday Low Price (ELP) internet package — a carryover from Time Warner Cable — also got the rude shock of a $5 rate increase on a service that used to cost $14.99 a month. That represents more than a 33% rate hike, which is just fine with Charter.

“In some of our markets the price has increased for the ELP package,” said spokesperson “Julie_R”. “Notifications were sent via bill statements and became effective with the August statements. Our ELP package is not a promotion.  From time to time, Spectrum makes decisions to adjust the pricing for our products and services to account for network investments.  We understand that value is important.  ELP is still a very good value at $19.99.”

The rate increase does not apply to New York State residents, where regulators placed significant deal conditions on the Charter/Time Warner Cable merger to help protect consumers in that state.

We have also been receiving reports from readers that Spectrum’s Internet Assist (SIA) program, designed for the elderly and income-challenged, is not easy to enroll in and customer service representatives have rejected a number of applicants for a variety of reasons. SIA offers a 30Mbps broadband connection for $14.99 a month to those qualified for:

  • The National School Lunch Program (NSLP); free or reduced cost lunch
  • The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) of the NSLP
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) ( ≥ age 65 only) Programs that do not qualify for Spectrum Internet Assist: Social Security Disability (SSD), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and Social Security Retirement and Survivor Benefits are different from Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and do NOT meet eligibility requirements.

The biggest problems encountered so far:

  • Representatives lack information about the program and attempt to upsell customers to regular pricing and packages.
  • Bundling additional services with SIA can be more expensive than just choosing a traditional bundled package sold to everyone, especially if it is a new customer promotion.
  • There is considerable confusion over the qualifications for SSI recipients. Be sure to recognize you must be 65 or older and note SSD, SSDI, and certain other programs noted above do not qualify you to receive SIA.

We are continuing to monitor the SIA program looking to ensure Spectrum is making the program available to customers that qualify for it.

Currently there are 4 comments on this Article:

  1. Shaun says:

    Spectrum does NOT have ELP unless it is carried over by a previous plan. After they switched over to Spectrum from Time Warner, I called up trying to check on getting the ELP internet. I was informed that Spectrum does not have that plan, or anything equivalent. I asked what the lowest plan that they have is, and I was told their 50 or 60 meg plan, at a rate of $65 per month, plus fees (rental of the cable modem, etc). Right before they switched to Spectrum, I called up asking about the ELP internet, and they told me to hold off for a couple of weeks, because, if I did, that they would give me a higher internet speed, for the same price.. Nothing but lies.. So now, I am stuck paying the $65 plan with no other options.

    As for that SIA plan.. It is nothing but smoke and mirrors.. As they say, you have to be over 65 and get SSI.. That means, if say, you only get SSI up to $650 a month, and you make $655 a month, you do not qualify. SSI have such low standards as a cut off point, that most people do not qualify for that reason. While there is a lot of people that do qualify for the free school lunch program, it is good for them.. But, only if you cut the cord for over a month to get it.. So basically, it is mainly only good for parents, that have kids, that get the free school lunch program, and do not currently get internet from them.. They make it sound soo good, but the fact is, they put in soo many rules in there, to make sure that people do not qualify, just so that they do not have to make good on what they offer.

    • New York State residents can still purchase a new ELP plan until at least 2018. If you are in NY and cannot get this plan, use the contact us button above and give us your contact info.

      The best current deal for new customers (or simply turn in your equipment and cancel under your name and after you get a receipt go home, use the website to sign up as a new customer under a spouse or family member’s name) is $39.99 Spectrum Internet for 12 months (60Mbps in most areas). A double play of TV and Internet is around $65 a month when you include the required single box, but not including Broadcast TV surcharge of $7.50 a month. This latter deal is not available in all areas. Check the website and play around with current offers as if you were a new customer.

      You can pick up your new equipment (perhaps at a different cable store to avoid any embarrassment) the same day you turn in your old. Just make sure you do not sign up on the website (use the self-install kit option) until after you have turned in your equipment and canceled service in the store or they will reject the order for new service.

      For current Spectrum customers who do not want to cancel/restart, the prices above reflect the current broadband deals. You may be able to get something better in the cable store if you ask.

      • Shaun says:

        I live in Pennsylvania, so that does me no good. And I own my own equipment, so need to return anything since I don’t have anything of theirs for the internet. I see no reason to pay $8 a month, for something that cost me $60 to buy, because it pays for itself in less then a year vs renting. Spectrum has been sending me notice after notice, trying to get me to upgrade / bundle services, by doing the 70 channel plan (or something like that) and 60 Mb internet for $60.. But the problem is, I am trying to lower the bills, not increase them. Yes, 60 is lower then 65, but, then by the time you add on the taxes, equipment rental fees, etc.. You are paying close to $10 more then just internet alone.

        What makes it even worse is, they are starting to install fiber through Vnet here, and they are charging 60 for 150Mb down and 150Mb up.. and that is regular price, not a special. VS 65 for 60 down, 5 up. almost 3 times faster down, and 30 times faster up, for $5 less a month.. Heck, even basic unlimited plans for cell phone service, that is unlimited internet, phone, and texts, starts at about $50 month.. 3 services for $15 less a month then just internet alone.. Just shows how “poor” Spectrum’s pricing is. As soon as they get into my area, Spectrum is going to be gone..

        As for ELP plans.. I tried calling multiple times to see about it, after Spectrum took over. I thought that maybe one person was mistaken, or did not know about it, and that is why they told me that they did not have it.. But, all reps, from each call told me the same thing.. ELP plans are no longer available. Personally, I feel that $65 being the lowest plan available is just ridiculous.. My mom lives off of SS.. Makes, say 1000 a month.. and they expect someone to take $65 or more of that, just to pay for internet?? That is just insane.. It is like saying, “Hey, we do not care if you eat or not.. Just as long as we get our money”.

        After all, 1000 minus utilities, insurances, house payment / rent / etc, food, travel money (gas or bus), doctor and Rx bills, etc.. after all of that, you do not have anything left.. Then spectrum comes in and says, if you want even basic service, hand us over another $65 or more.. something like 73 if you need a modem from them.. Seriously?? You are asking elderly people to choose to either not have basic internet service, or work another job just to pay them.. or just not eat for the month?? If that is not a way of ****ing on the elderly, then what is it? No.. Spectrum is nothing but a greedy, self centered company that thinks about nothing, but how much they can line their own pockets, and they do not care who they have to hurt in the process.. I did not used to think that way, but after seeing what they did.. and how they changed things.. Well… I do not think you can blame me..

        And yes, I know that they have the SIA plans, but as per their rules, we do not qualify because we have over $600 a month coming in. I think what really pi$$es me off about that is, the people that make that little.. Most of them have never worked much in their life.. That is why their pay is so low.. Yet, someone like my mom, that worked her butt off, is now getting kicked in the “you know what”, just because she actually cared enough “to” work.. So they are doing nothing but catering to the people that, most of that, did little working, and hurting the people that actually did. If that is not an insult to the hard working people that are now retired, then I do not know what is..

      • Peggy says:

        Sorry to tell you but they set up the account based on your address, not your name. And the other thing is, it does depend not only on your address but what city and state you are in. Some states protected their citizens in varying levels. So deals that are coming through for New York, for example, are not available to us in OHio

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