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Former Spectrum customer claims he got a billing threat

The company says it was simply an ‘opportunity to reconnect’

Spectrum cable company van
Photo (c) Will Buckner - Wikimedia Commons
With cord-cutting picking up speed, cable TV providers normally do everything they can -- short of slashing rates -- to keep their customers. One recent offer by Spectrum raised more than a few eyebrows.

David Lazarus, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, reports that he heard from a reader who said he received a very unusual letter from the cable company. Steve Schklair told Lazarus that it had been months since he had been a Spectrum customer, and when he canceled the service the company said he still owed it money, which he disputed.

Schklair said the letter stated that Spectrum would forgive the disputed debt and quit reporting it to credit agencies if Schklair would resume his Spectrum service. He said the letter noted that a good credit score was important to a successful financial life.

“Maybe it's just me, but that has a Sopranos-like ring of ‘You've made a nice life for yourself. Be a shame if something happened to it,’” Lazarus wrote.

Spectrum confirms the letter is real

The Times contacted Spectrum and confirmed the authenticity of the letter. A spokesperson told Lazarus that the company was simply offering the former customer “an opportunity to reconnect.”

We decided to check ConsumerAffairs reviews to see if we could find similar examples. We didn’t, although several reviewers complained about Spectrum’s billing/cancelation policies. Kris of Wylie, Texas told us she canceled her service and was told there would be no additional charges because she owned her own equipment.

“A week later I receive a bill from Spectrum for $130.00,” Kris wrote in a ConsumerAffairs post. “What??? They charged me not only for a month of service I canceled and my equipment!”

Kathleen of Arlington, Texas, told us that Spectrum charged her $70 for a premium service she says she did not order. 

“They said it was ordered from my remote but I live alone, I'm a flight attendant and was out of town the entire month,” she wrote in a ConsumerAffairs review. “They said they would remove it (from her credit report) but I would still have to pay since it was ordered from my remote control!”

In fairness, it should be noted that Spectrum has an average ConsumerAffairs review rating of 3.8 out of 5 stars, comparable to other major cable companies. Lazarus notes that most subscription-based businesses go the extra mile to keep existing customers on board, usually with discounts and other incentives.

“I've never before seen a pitch that so blatantly threatens harm unless you come around,” he concluded.

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