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Time Warner Cable Wants $850 from Homeowner to Move Lawn Pedestal It Put in the Wrong Place

Neighborhood terminal pedestals can serve from a half-dozen to 200 customers. This one is designed to service a small neighborhood.

Time Warner Cable is asking a Padre Island, Tex. customer to pay $850 to move a cable company pedestal box installed in her front yard by mistake.

Dorothy Harper’s home is located right on the shoreline, so utility companies have traditionally placed their equipment in a utility easement adjacent to the street. But Time Warner Cable, for whatever reason, decided to install their unsightly neighborhood terminal pedestal in the middle of her front yard, in front of her home, despite the city’s request that cable operators keep their equipment in a designated easement along the property line.

Harper has been trimming around the pedestal for years, irritated by its presence but infinitely patient that one day the company would do the right thing and move it to its proper location.

Her patience wore out when competing cable company Grande Communications expanded service on Padre Island and felt its own pedestal box would be right at home next to the improperly located one owned by Time Warner. Harper arrived home one afternoon to find both boxes happily creating a tremendous eyesore.

Harper told The Caller she called Grande Communications, which eventually moved their pedestal to the proper location. But Time Warner Cable proved infinitely more stubborn, even when the city got involved:

Edward Villarreal, who issues fiber optic and utility permits for the city’s Development Services, visited Harper’s property. He took photos of the cable pedestal and made phone calls to Time Warner on her behalf, without success, he said.

“It’s definitely an eyesore I wouldn’t want in the middle of my property,” Villarreal told Troubleshooter Thursday.

Harper got tired of the fight with Time Warner and backed off for a while, she said.

“Every time I drive up to our home, I am angered again at Time Warner and their negative response to a problem that their workers created,” she said.

Recently she called Time Warner again and was told they would move the pedestal if she paid $850, Harper said.

The newspaper’s troubleshooter intervened, calling Time Warner’s regional headquarters looking for a resolution and found someone a bit more sympathetic.

Jon Gary Herrera, regional vice president of communications for the cable operator said complaints about unsightly cable pedestals are common, but the company would be willing to move the one in front of Mrs. Harper’s home if the mistake was theirs.

If not, Time Warner has a solution to quiet chronic complainers. The company has been known to provide a rock facade to cover the ugly pale green lawn stump and make things more landscape friendly.

One reader had a last-ditch solution in case that did not work:

Make the switch to Grande and then arrange for someone to “accidentally” do a hit and run on the cable box thus forcing Time Warner to come out and place it in the proper location.

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Time Warner Cable Investigates 14,000 El Paso Residents for Cable Theft, Local TV News Reports

Phillip Dampier February 18, 2010 Grande, Time Warner Cable, Video 5 Comments

El Paso, Texas

More than 14,000 residents of El Paso are under investigation for potential cable theft.  That remarkable number comes from El Paso, Texas TV station KFOX-TV.  Reporter Martina Valverde notes that Time Warner Cable is now engaged in a city-wide system audit to identify and disconnect illegitimate cable connections.

“Our paying customers who rely on us for phone service, video service, and Internet service,” Gary Underwood, vice president of communications for Time Warner’s Texas operation told KFOX viewers. “They might not be able to access those services when they most need them because the damage that was caused further down the line.”

The company told KFOX when it discovers an illegal connection, it makes two attempts to convert the customer to legitimate service.  On the third attempt, local law enforcement becomes involved.  Those found guilty face fines of $500.

“We have what’s called a tab audit team. They go out and they look at different areas to see. We have a system of tagging and flagging on these lines to so our folks can identify an authorized versus unauthorized connection,” Underwood said.

Cable theft is not just a problem in El Paso.  Some brazen entrepreneurs go further, pretending to represent providers willing to hook customers up for a one time, flat fee they pocket.

Grande Communications faced one such individual, who last summer slapped a magnetic sign with Grande’s logo on his truck and pitched cable service to apartment complexes and homes around San Marcos, Texas.

Unwitting customers who signed up for the deal were offered special discounts by Grande when their illegal cable connection was discovered.

http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/KFOX El Paso Time Warner Cable Cracks Down On Illegal Taps 2-17-2010.flv

KFOX-TV in El Paso, Texas ran this report last night claiming more than 14,000 residents were under investigation for cable theft in the community. (1 minute)

http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/KXAN Austin Fake Cable Guy Selling Cable 7-24-09.flv

Last summer, Grande Communications had to contend with someone illegally hooking up customers around San Marcos, Texas. KXAN-TV in Austin ran this report July 24th. (2 minutes)

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Grande Takeover Announced by ABRY Partners – Owners of Atlantic Broadband

Phillip Dampier June 13, 2009 Grande 3 Comments
Grande Communications serves 148,000 and 147,000 Texas residential and business customers, respectively.

Grande Communications serves 148,000 and 147,000 Texas residential and business customers, respectively.

Grande Communications, the San Marcos, Texas company competing against Time Warner Cable and AT&T, will effectively be sold to ABRY Partners, an investment banking firm based in Boston, for an undisclosed sum.

Grande, familiar to Stop the Cap! readers in Austin, ran advertisements back in April and May against Time Warner Cable and AT&T touting their broadband service as being free from Internet Overcharging schemes.  The company has managed to build its fiber optic network to reach approximately 20% of homes in the Austin area, mostly in the northeast and eastern areas, as well as Tarrytown.

Growth had been slow for the “overbuilder” due to financing difficulties.  Investors feared a three-way competition between cable, telephone, and fiber-based Grande, because heavy competition usually results in lower prices and profits, decreasing their potential return.

With ABRY effectively helping refill Grande’s bank accounts to allow them to accelerate the building of their network, Grande hopes to achieve one million homes passed by their network in a few short years.

ABRY has experience in the broadband market with their ownership of Atlantic Broadband, the nation’s 15th largest cable operator serving customers in Florida, Maryland, Delaware, South Carolina and central Pennsylvania.

The deal requires internal review from Grande’s board of directors and external review by the Federal Communications Commission, the Texas Public Utilities Commission, and others.

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