NY sues Spectrum-Time Warner for overpromising, underdelivering

The company is accused of promising speeds it knew it couldn't deliver

It's hard to find anyone who's entirely happy with their internet service, but New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman says New Yorkers are on target when they kvetch about their service from Charter subsidiary Spectrum-Time Warner Cable, alleging in a lawsuit that the company deliberately promises internet speeds it knows it can't deliver.

“The allegations in today’s lawsuit confirm what millions of New Yorkers have long suspected -- Spectrum-Time Warner Cable has been ripping you off,” said Schneiderman. “Today’s action seeks to bring much-needed relief to the millions of New Yorkers we allege have been getting cheated by Spectrum-Time Warner Cable for far too long. Even now, Spectrum-Time Warner Cable continues to offer Internet speeds that we found they cannot reliably deliver.”

Schneiderman's criticisms are echoed by the many reviews about Time-Warner and Spectrum submitted by ConsumerAffairs readers like R.P. of Saugerties, N.Y., who said, "These companies can call themselves whatever they want. TheTV service stinks. Those boxes they gave out don't work a lot of times or the pictures pixelate."

"I think their services should be looked into. Why should people pay for lousy service?" R.P. asked.

"Dramatically short-changed"

Consumers rate Time Warner

The complaint alleges that since January 2012 Spectrum-TWC’s marketing promised subscribers who signed up for its internet service that they would get a "fast, reliable connection" to the internet from anywhere in their home. But a 16-month investigation by Schneiderman's office – which included reviewing internal corporate communications and hundreds of thousands of subscriber speed tests – found Spectrum-Time Warner subscribers were getting dramatically short-changed on both speed and reliability.

Subscribers’ wired internet speeds for the premium plan (100, 200, and 300 Mbps) were up to 70 percent slower than promised; Wi-Fi speeds were even slower, with some subscribers getting speeds that were more than 80 percent slower than what they had paid for, Schneiderman's suit charges.

The complaint also alleges that Spectrum-TWC charged New Yorkers as much as $109.99 per month for premium plans that could not even achieve the speeds promised in their slower plans. And Schneiderman charges that Spectrum-TWC executives knew that the company’s hardware and network were incapable of achieving the speeds promised to subscribers but continued to make false promises about speed and reliability anyway. 

Schneiderman alleges that while Spectrum-TWC earned billions of dollars in profits from selling its high-margin internet service to 2.5 million New York subscribers, it didn't make the capital investments necessary to improve its network or provide subscribers with the necessary hardware.

It might take changes like that to make Zeke of Rochester, N.Y., happy.

"Our TW Cable service is awful! Every year our bill increases or they take away channels but we get ** service. Every time we use on demand or rent a movie the channels freeze. We have to reboot the box and it takes so long that we typically give up," Zeke said. 

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