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US Senator Rob Portman: Time Warner overcharging customers

Don't Waste Your Money
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Posted at 6:15 PM, Jun 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-23 18:32:35-04

By Sarah Buduson
WEWS-TV

Think your Time Warner Cable bill is much too high? You might be correct.

It turns out the Cincinnati area's top cable provider has been overcharging customers, according to Ohio's US Senator Rob Portman.

An investigation by the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations revealed Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications have “consistently failed” to provide refunds to customers “who they knew they overcharged.”

The investigation, released Thursday morning, found Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications, which merged last month, “made no effort to trace equipment overcharges” and refund customers.  

Instead, the companies kept the money owed to consumers.

Read the full report here

According to the investigative report, Time Warner Cable estimates it overcharged customers $640,000 between Jan. 1, 2016 and April 30, 2016.

The report also said Time Warner estimates it overcharged 40,000 Ohio customers more than $430,000 in 2015 and up to 11,000 Ohio customers between Jan. 1, 2016 and May 31, 2016 totaling $108,000.

Time Warner Cable removed the charges off customers’ bills going forward after discovering the billing errors, but failed to reimburse customers or provide notice of the error, according to the report.

As a result of the investigation, Time Warner and Charter have will provide an automatic one-month credit to customers for overcharges for equipment or services and inform customers who were overcharged.

U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) is the Chair of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

During a subcommittee meeting Thursday morning, Portman made the following statement:

“All of the companies before us have ways of identifying overcharges to customers or preventing them from happening in the first place.  But what happens when they find out they’ve been overcharging someone for equipment they don’t actually have?  The first thing to do, of course, is take it off the customer’s bill going forward.  All the companies before us know to do that.  But not all of them bother to go back and figure out when the overcharge started, calculate how much they owe the consumer, and give them a refund.

During the time period examined by the Subcommittee, Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications—who have just recently merged with each other—made no effort to trace equipment overcharges they identified and provide refunds to customers.  Instead, their practice has been to just pocket the past overcharges.

To understand the scale of the problem, we asked Time Warner Cable for specific numbers about overcharges in our home states.  Here’s what we found:  During just the first five months of 2016, Time Warner Cable overbilled up to 11,000 customers in Ohio—and those overcharges totaled $108,000.  Time Warner Cable further estimates that, throughout last year alone, it overbilled 40,000 Ohio customers with overcharges of more than $430,000.   And rather than correct the mistake by refunding the overcharges, the company just kept money.  In my view, that is a rip-off of Ohio consumers, and I’ll be asking the company today how they are going to fix it.  “

Time Warner Cable is the largest cable television provider in Ohio.

It recently merged with Charter Communications to create one of the largest cable companies in the U.S.

A Charter Communications spokesperson sent this statement to our Scripps sister station, WEWS-TV in Cleveland:

In May of 2016, Charter completed its acquisition of Time Warner Cable. At just a little more than 30 days post-closing, Charter has been advised that TWC currently catches and corrects any overcharges on a monthly basis. We will put controls into place to catch such instances daily, as we now have installed at Charter, but that will take approximately 6090 days. Until then, we will proactively issue a one month credit to any customer that the current monthly process reveals was overcharged.