×

Time Warner Cable, Charter Routinely Overcharged Customers and Failed to Issue Refunds, Senate Report Finds

A U.S. Senate investigation into pay-TV industry billing practices found that Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications — which completed their $67 billion merger in May — have regularly overbilled customers for equipment and made no effort to proactively provide refunds for the errors.

The report, released Thursday by U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who lead the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, said that both cable operators “made no effort to trace equipment overcharges to their origin unless customers specifically asked them to and did not provide notice or refunds to customers.” The Senate probe, initiated last year, looked into billing and customer-service operations at five top providers: Comcast, AT&T’s DirecTV, Dish Network, Time Warner Cable and Charter.

Between January and April 2016, Time Warner Cable overbilled customers nationwide an estimated $639,948, and is projected to overcharge customers a total of $1.9 million this year, according to the report. Charter said it overbilled customers by at least $442,691 per month, per the report.

In a statement, Charter said: “An audit of our set-top boxes charges over the last nine months found them to be over 99% accurate. To move us closer to 100% accuracy and permanently resolve this issue, we have installed new controls to ensure discrepancies are caught and eliminated on a daily basis. Customers who were incorrectly charged for set-top boxes are being notified and given a 12-month credit for these fees.”

The cable company also said that since 2012, it has invested $7 billion in network improvements and added more than 7,000 jobs.

The Senate investigation found that, in contrast to Time Warner Cable and Charter, Comcast and DirecTV provide automatic refunds or credits to customers who have been overcharged by their billing systems and that Dish’s billing system is designed to prevent such overcharges from occurring in the first place.

Charter’s acquisition of TW Cable and Bright House Networks, backed by John Malone’s Liberty Broadband, made it the third-largest pay-TV provider in the U.S., with 17 million subscribers.

The Senate subcommittee’s report also said that consumers are frustrated by the ongoing rise of the cost for cable and satellite TV, with some packages increasing up to 33% since 2011, and are confused about promotional pricing. In addition, the industry is beset by chronic customer-service problems, the report concluded.

A report detailing the overall investigation is available here, and a separate joint subcommittee staff report on the overbilling problems is here.

More Biz

  • The Netflix logo is displayed at

    Netflix Target of Shareholder Lawsuits After Q2 Subscriber Shortfall

    Like clockwork, Netflix’s big miss on subscriber targets for the second quarter of 2019 have prompted lawsuits filed on behalf of shareholders. At least two suits seeking class-action standing were filed Monday, by the Rosen Law Firm and Schall Law Firm, which both specialize in investor litigation. The lawsuits allege Netflix violated SEC regulations by [...]

  • Terry Wakefield Exits Sony/ATV to Head

    Terry Wakefield Exits Sony/ATV to Head Up A&R at UMPG Nashville

    After a decades-long tenure at Sony/ATV Nashville, Terry Wakefield has followed another alumnus, Troy Tomlinson, across town to take a top position at Universal Music Publishing Group Nashville. Wakefield is senior VP of A&R at UMPG after having been senior VP of creative in his previous post. Personal loyalty to Tomlinson, UMPG Nashville’s recently named chairman/CEO, [...]

  • Sally Williams at PBS Country Music

    Sally Williams to Leave Longtime Opry Home for Top Post at Live Nation in Nashville

    Nashville executive Sally Williams is leaving Opry Entertainment, where she rose to the top over a two-decade tenure there, to join Live Nation’s regional office as the president of Nashville music and business strategy, the company announced Monday. Live Nation said Williams will not only lead programming and marketing for their concerts in the area, [...]

  • Fourward

    Management Company Fourward Taps Christopher Burbidge as Head of Talent Division

    Will Ward’s management company Fourward has promoted long-time colleague Christopher Burbidge to head the company’s rapidly growing talent division, while also promoting Brooke Blann to manager in the company’s music division. Both Blann and Burbidge are based in the company’s Los Angeles office and will continue to report directly to Ward. Burbidge works closely on [...]

  • Writers vs Agents Packaging War WGA

    Kaplan Stahler Agency Signs Modified Code of Conduct in Win for WGA

    Kaplan Stahler has become the latest agency to sign the Writers Guild of America’s (WGA) modified code of conduct in a win for the Guild. In a message sent out to WGA members today, the negotiating committee wrote that the agreement with Kaplan Stahler “bans packaging fees and agency-affiliated production companies and, through information-sharing, makes [...]

  • London's CODA Agency Formally Becomes a

    Paradigm Agency Formally Absorbs London's CODA Into the Fold

    After five years of working together, London’s CODA Agency has formally become a part of Paradigm and will continue under its U.S. partner’s banner. The London office of what is now a fully integrated Paradigm will continue to be led by Alex Hardee, Tom Schroeder, James Whitting and Dave Hallybone. In a statement otherwise laden [...]

  • WGA Agents Dispute Placeholder

    Agencies Seek to Hold Key Court Hearing Before WGA Elections

    The four major agencies asked a court on Monday to expedite a key hearing in the Writers Guild of America lawsuit, as the agencies seek to have portions of the case thrown out before the WGA’s internal elections in September. The WGA and the unions are still waging a legal and public relations battle over [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content