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Spectrum Upgrades Standard Speed Plan to 200/10 Mbps in Central Florida and South Texas

Spectrum internet customers in parts of Central Florida and South Texas are getting twice the download speed they used to receive thanks to a series of quiet service upgrades still in progress.

Customers in parts of suburban Orlando, including Seminole County, first noticed the speed upgrade in April in towns like Lake Mary. Parts of Kissimmee saw a service upgrade earlier this month. Some neighborhoods in Orlando also began reporting speed upgrades as of mid-May. Some parts of Pasco County, north of Tampa, also received a 200 Mbps upgrade, particularly in planned communities.

Charter Communications is gradually upgrading capacity in the area, formerly served by Bright House Networks. Spectrum traditionally does not announce speed upgrades until an entire service area is complete, which will likely happen in parts of Florida and Texas by early this summer.

In South Texas, San Benito is one of the communities between Brownsville and McAllen seeing Spectrum’s usual download speed doubled from 100 to 200 Mbps.

The speed upgrades come without any additional charges and usually appear automatically. Spectrum has been slowly upgrading its national service footprint to offer the new, higher-speed 200 Mbps Standard service tier. For more than two years, customers in many AT&T landline areas in the midwest and south have had 200/10 Mbps service, designed to help keep the cable company competitive with AT&T’s fiber offering. But service remains stubbornly fixed at 100/10 Mbps in just under half of Spectrum’s service area, particularly in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, and West regions.

Stop the Cap! expects Spectrum to upgrade all of its service areas to provide 200/10 Mbps service. It remains uncertain exactly when that will happen, however.

Updated: Spectrum Charges Customer $75 in Fees for Using a Lost Credit Card

Phillip Dampier May 13, 2020 Charter Spectrum, Consumer News 2 Comments

A Spectrum customer faces $75 in fees for leaving an old credit card on his Spectrum account.

Reddit reader “u/round-diskreported that credit card ‘lost’ in April. That is where the trouble started.

“At some point between when my old number stopped working and my new card arrived, Spectrum tried to do an Auto Pay charge. It failed,” the reader reports. “I received a voicemail about it, and a few days later I got my new card and updated the payment info. All is well, or so I thought.”

When Spectrum’s May bill arrived, the cable company charged the reader $59.99 for the next month of service, and just under $75 in fees for last month’s payment mishap. A $49.99 fee for “Credit Card Payment Rejection or Denial” and a $25 charge for a “Return Item Fee” turned a $60 cable bill into $134.98.

Normally, companies are not penalized for declined credit card transactions, but Spectrum is ready to charge you plenty for their inconvenience.

“I have paid my bill on time and in full every single month for over four years. This is what I get?” the reader asks. “Spectrum is literally any without exaggeration the only company I have ever personally dealt with who has ever presented a fee of any kind on a failed credit card charge.”

Attempts to reach customer service meant at least 40-minute hold times, so the matter remains unresolved, at least for now.

Both the NY City Public Advocate and the state’s Attorney General’s office are investigating.

Updated 5/14 (2:45pm EDT): Updated to reflect investigations by authorities in New York.

CableLabs Introduces DOCSIS 4.0 — Up to 10/6 Gbps Over Cable Broadband

Phillip Dampier March 26, 2020 Broadband Speed, Consumer News 1 Comment

CableLabs unveiled the final DOCSIS 4.0 specification today, dramatically improving upload speeds and offering the potential of much faster internet service from cable operators in the next few years.

DOCSIS 4.0 will support downstream speeds as fast as 10,000 Mbps and upload speed as fast as 6,000 Mbps, finally bringing faster upstream speed to cable company-provided internet. The new standard raises maximum speeds by opening up “extended spectrum” on the coaxial cable coming into your home. By dedicating additional frequencies for data services, cable companies can raise both speed and capacity.

Consumers have been asking for faster upload speeds to support streaming live video, cloud backup services, and a growing number of in-home devices sharing a single internet connection. For years, cable providers have only been able to provide a small fraction of upstream speed in comparison to download speed. That distinction will largely be erased as DOCSIS 4.0 gets deployed over the next few years. Providers are likely to raise upload speeds on existing speed tiers and offer consumers symmetrical download and upload speed for gigabit connections. The increased speed will also likely make cable broadband more attractive to business customers.

The new standard will also decrease network latency, crucial for some online applications. It will also feature more robust security and higher reliability by identifying potential network problems before they become apparent to customers.

Consumers may see DOCSIS 4.0 modems and service available within the next two years.

Mediacom Demands $300 For Melted Cable Modem Lost in Devastating Condo Fire

Phillip Dampier March 2, 2020 Consumer News, Mediacom, Video 1 Comment

(Image: WPMI-TV)

An Alabama woman who lost everything in a condo fire has been hit with a $300 charge because she couldn’t return a cable modem that literally melted in the fire.

Mediacom representatives were adamant that if she did not pay her final bill, including a $300 non-returned equipment charge for a cable modem that costs considerably less, her account would be turned over to a collection agency.

Barbara Rose told WPMI-TV she “was shocked” by how Mediacom treated her, and the ongoing battle with the cable operator was adding to her stress. The company said she could always claim the damaged modem on her insurance, something Rose neglected to get for her leased condo. Attempts to negotiate the amount of her final bill with Mediacom went nowhere.

The cable modem/router in question, manufactured by Technicolor, is estimated to have cost Mediacom less than half the amount they were asking. In fact, customers typically pay the cable company more than $12 a month in modem rental fees, but Mediacom showed no willingness to pro-rate the damaged modem and sought ‘more than’ full payment. When Rose refused, “they turned me over to collections,” Rose told the station.

When WPMI contacted Mediacom, the company’s intransigence disappeared immediately.

“We have a longstanding policy to waive equipment return charges for customers who have been displaced by disasters like a fire,” a Mediacom representative told the TV station. “The person this customer spoke to must not have been aware of the policy.”

Rose said she contacted at least five Mediacom employees, including a supervisor, and none were apparently familiar with this policy.

Still, Rose is delighted Mediacom has now waived the modem fee and the cost of her final month of service.

It is just another example of public relations working in favor of customers. When a reporter shows up threatening to make a dispute public on the evening news, most companies buckle in favor of customers they may have refused to help for weeks or months earlier.

Charging for unreturned cable equipment after a fire or other disaster is very common, despite most cable companies claiming to waive fees in the event of such personal disasters. Most instruct victims to pay the charges and seek compensation through an insurance claim. But in most cases, customers need not pay anything at all if they inform the company of its own policies regarding unreturned equipment damaged in fires, floods, or other tragedies.

At the same time, every renter should purchase renter’s insurance to protect the value of their personal property. It is inexpensive and the only way to recoup losses in the event your property is damaged or destroyed.

WPMI-TV in Mobile covers another dispute between a cable company and customer over unreturned cable equipment destroyed in a fire. (2:31)

Spectrum Salesperson Lies to Customers About the Competition: “We Bought Them”

Phillip Dampier January 21, 2020 Charter Spectrum, Competition, Consumer News, Video No Comments

This Spectrum door-to-door salesperson tells a Bath, N.Y. customer the cable company bought the competition.

A Spectrum door-to-door sales representative has a new trick up his sleeve to win back customers who switched to a competitor: lie and tell them Spectrum bought out the competition and sooner or later customers will once again be dealing with the cable company.

Spectrum Rep: “To get you guys back on board with our service, we’re going to lock your price in for two years.”

A Bath, N.Y., customer of Empire Access, a competing fiber to the home provider offering service in the Southern Tier of New York: “I’m not interested.”

Spectrum Rep: “We just bought Empire, you know, so sooner or later you’re going to be with us.”

Customer: “So you’re going to raise up your rates?”

Spectrum Rep: “No, we’re just going to get everybody switched over, so whenever you’re ready. The official switchover is in March, so sooner or later you’ll be on board with us or you’ll be on satellite for internet. Right now we’re offering you a deal to get on board early.”

The “deal” was $50 a month for 100 Mbps internet, which is hardly a deal at all considering new Spectrum customers in competitive service areas can often sign up for 400 Mbps service for $29.99 a month for two years. More importantly, the salesperson openly lied to make a sale.

Empire Access marketing director Bob VanDelinder says Empire Access did not sell to Spectrum and has no plans to sell itself to anyone.

“Our company is locally owned and operated, and deeply rooted in the communities we serve,” VanDelinder said. “We can keep our customers based on our service, our price. We’re very competitive and play fair. We think that’s extremely important to play fair and keep it a level playing field and be honest to our customers.”

The customer captured most of the conversation on his Ring video doorbell and shared it with Empire Access. At least one other Empire Access customer said he experienced a similar encounter with the deceptive salesperson.

“The content of the video is not accurate and we’re investigating these apparent comments by the sales representative,” responds a Spectrum spokesperson.

Spectrum typically contracts out its door-to-door marketing to third party companies, with employees typically earning a commission or bonus based on each successful sign-up.

Empire Access is requesting customers who have experienced similar misleading claims to contact the company at: 1-800-338-3300.

Spectrum representative lies about the competition.

WENY-TV in Elmira, N.Y. reports on a Spectrum door-to-door salesperson using dirty tricks to try and fool customers to switch back to the cable operator. (2:32)

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