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Consumer Alert: Spectrum Double-Charging Some Customers in Western N.Y.

Phillip Dampier August 28, 2018 Charter Spectrum, Consumer News, Video 7 Comments

Spectrum customers in western New York are reporting overdraft charges and missing funds from their checking accounts that trace back to double-charging by Charter Communications for cable service.

WIVB-TV Buffalo reports Olean resident Michelle La Voie was stunned when an unauthorized debit showed up in her credit union checking account, which appeared to be a double-bill from Spectrum.

The second charge, a duplicate of the $161 payment she made manually, appeared as a “pending charge” on her electronic statement — a charge she did not authorize and a hold on her checking account funds her credit union could not release unless Charter canceled the transaction.

When La Voie called Spectrum’s billing department, she was told it was a computer glitch.

“They informed me that it was a known issue, that payments that had been made on the 19th and the 20th [of August] there was a computer glitch, and there were people being double-charged,” La Voie told WIVB News.

The “glitch” is in fact an “authorization hold” — one that we are experiencing with our August Spectrum bill payment here at Stop the Cap! 

If a customer pays using a debit or credit card, a vendor like Spectrum can place a temporary “hold” on funds. Often, this hold is the full amount of the transaction, which will temporarily make those funds unavailable for withdrawal until either the company and your bank or credit card “settles” the transaction and transfers the funds, or the hold expires, usually after 5-8 days.

In this case, Spectrum or its credit card processor failed to clear the hold after the transaction was settled, meaning affected customers have twice the amount of their cable bill unavailable in their account until the pending charge expires in about a week.

Customers can check to see if this glitch is affecting their account by logging on and looking for something like this:

Pending Charges

Aug 19 2018  TWC * TIME WARNER CABLE   $151.40

Activity Since Last Statement

Aug 28 2018  TWC * TIME WARNER CABLE  $151.40

The presence of both the “pending charge” and the “settled” charge found under current account activity is unusual, because the pending charge should have been canceled at the same time funds were transferred to pay Charter Communications (d/b/a Time Warner Cable). Instead, $151.40 was withdrawn and sent to Charter while an additional $151.40 is remains unavailable for withdrawal because of the authorization hold not being removed. By September 1st, that pending charge will likely expire. But until then, Spectrum has effectively kept $151.40 of your money hostage.

This can become a problem for customers who keep a low balance in their checking account and expect those funds to be immediately available to pay bills or make a cash withdrawal. Because of the extended hold, customers could unintentionally overdraw their checking account, leading to overdraft fees or an automatic draw from a line of credit, if one is attached to your checking account. La Voie had enough money in her account to avoid an overdraft, but she was concerned about those who don’t.

“I asked are you planning to tell customers this so that they can make sure that they are not overdrawn, or having payments declined?  They said no, we don’t have any plans to notify customers,” La Voie said.

In fact, one of her co-workers did incur overdraft fees because of this problem. Her credit union removed the overdraft fees as a courtesy, but not all banks are likely to be that understanding.

Customers can protect themselves by considering using autopay with a credit card, where authorization holds only affect your available credit line, not money in your checking account. For most credit card transactions, the temporary hold has no material impact, and few even notice the hold. But authorization holds can temporarily put a credit card into an overlimit condition if a customer keeps their card nearly “maxed out,” and exceeding your credit limit will damage your credit score and risk your good standing with the credit card issuer.

WIVB in Buffalo reports some customers in western New York are being “double-billed” for Spectrum cable service. (2:06)

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2 years ago

Probably Spectrum trying to get revenge because of NY. Would not be surprised as they try and pull some sneaky moves usually.

2 years ago

That is why I never use autopay.

Irina Barikyan
1 year ago

Same happened to me I have been charged for 303$and spectrum customer service don’t see this transaction. , but my statement from bank clearly showed it’s was spectrum. I called 4 times to customer service. They promised called back .never happened. This is Albany ny. Case still opened. I still don’t have my money back.I just feel it fraud schemes from spectrum., because not all people checked they statements on time. Be aware!!!!

William payne
William payne
7 months ago

This just happened to me I need an attorney that will pro bono this for me

7 months ago

Thank Goodness I am not on autopay.

Spectrum has double charged me on my statement and they refuse to remove it, but they can’t tell me why I have an extra month’s worth of charges on my account.

I looked back at my statments for the past year and never missed a payment, yet they don’t know how it happened. It’s a bunch of crap

Missie E
Missie E
5 months ago
Reply to  Debz

Spectrum lied to me and said I did not pay them. When I brought my receipt and bill into the Spectrum office the lady said she remembered when I paid but they still ignored what it said on my receipt. They were giving me some insane excuse about my housemate being reimbursed for an overpayment for an account in his name three years ago. I fail to see how an account in my name should be overcharged because of what they did to a separate account from three years ago that was not in my name. I think they enjoy… Read more »

Jeanne Ciaccio
Jeanne Ciaccio
5 months ago

I recently paid my Spectrum bill and noticed that they debited my bank 2x. I called my bank to take it off because it was a mistake…but they said Spectrum would have to authorize that. I waited for over an hour on Chat…and than another hour on the phone because they have NO email that I could find! So…When I finally got through they said they have to offer me a refund…and that I could either use the extra amount paid as a credit on my account for future billing…or get a refund card in the mail! I told them… Read more »

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