Print 61 comment(s) - last by GlassHouse69.. on Jun 10 at 12:49 AM

City officials are fed up

“Hundreds of thousands of Los Angeles residents were ripped off,” said Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, referring to a complaint against Time Warner Cable regarding the quality of its service that the company provided since its installment as Southern California’s No. 1 cable provider two years ago.

“Time Warner must be held accountable for its promises.”

According to the soon-to-be-filed complaint, the City of Los Angeles says Time Warner made false and misleading statements to subscribers regarding its quality of service, violating state laws and the terms of the franchise agreement it worked out with the city. Subscribers spend time waiting in agonizingly long hold queues, the city says, and Time Warner’s technicians subjected subscribers to excessive repair work delays. Parts of the agreement mandated that Time Warner customer service representatives answer subscribers’ calls “within 30 seconds,” and repair service interruptions within 24 hours of notification.

The city says it will file its suit in a Los Angeles County Superior Court. Time Warner Cable provided no immediate comment.

Officials in the city of Costa Mesa, California – less than an hour’s drive south of Los Angeles’ – are mulling similar plans in light of Los Angeles’ announcement.

“I requested a copy of the city of Los Angeles’ filing so that I can assess if we need to pursue action of our own,” said Costa Mesa City Attorney Kimberley Hall Barlow.

Los Angeles officials say that Time Warner could pay “tens of millions of dollars” in fines if courts rule against it.

Time Warner Cable is the exclusive cable provider for a number of Southern California markets, including the aforementioned Costa Mesa. While there exists competition in Los Angeles, Time Warner Cable remains the dominant provider after it acquired the bankrupted Adelphia Communications with fellow provider Comcast in 2006, and arranged for a complex franchise switch that allowed the two to dominate separate markets.

The Los Angeles Times notes that the Adelphia transition was difficult due to a need to upgrade and merge with Adelphia’s aging infrastructure, affecting nearly 500,000 subscribers.

Los Angeles’ lawsuit specifically focuses on service issues starting during fall 2006 and ending in spring of 2007, citing advertising literature that gave subscribers the impression that pricing would remain the same. One brochure promised customers that Time Warner would fix service interruptions “fast,” when instead technicians would consistently show up for appointments late.

In the end, however, the city is angry with Time Warner’s lousy service overall. The company’s cable and internet service “was so intermittent and inferior in quality that it was not much better than no service at all,” says the suit.

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes recently announced plans to jettison Time Warner Cable, spinning it off into an independent company in order to raise Time Warner’s sagging stock price. The company is also experimenting with a metered internet service model, opening test markets with a 40 GB cap in Texas.

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RE: Good
By Regs on 6/6/2008 6:45:13 PM , Rating: 5
The real problem is the lack of competition. I don't know what the reg's are in everybody's local municipality, but there could only be so many communication lines running. Whoever owns it, wins.

RE: Good
By Regs on 6/6/2008 6:45:55 PM , Rating: 2
*lack of availability would of been a better word.

RE: Good
By Nik00117 on 6/7/2008 6:54:23 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think so, last of competiton is the problem.

Here in Germany DSL is dirt cheap, I mean you can get a decent line for like 5 euros a month for the first 3 months then like 9 euros a month after that, if you do a year long contract setup is free etc.

Quite frankly comopetiton has held the american ISPs back. Why should they spend 10million to upgrade their core switching area? Why should they provide more bandwidth, faster speeds, better tech support if the competiton doesn't even exist.

Once a business gets into a situation where competiton is no longer there they will conitue to charge outrageous prices and not be concerned ove rlosing customers, simply because where else are they going to go? There is no one else.s

RE: Good
By ChuckDriver on 6/7/2008 5:55:44 PM , Rating: 2
Here in Germany DSL is dirt cheap, I mean you can get a decent line for like 5 euros a month for the first 3 months then like 9 euros a month after that, if you do a year long contract setup is free etc.

My mother's friend recently signed up for DSL lite from AT&T for $10 a month. Despite having less bandwidth that standard DSL, it meets her needs and is comfortably within her budget.

As far as competition goes, I think the 3.0 and 6.0 Mbps tiers from the various DSL carriers were spurred by the cable companies similars plans. Also FiOS and similar fiber to the home systems are an attempt to fight cable both on internet service and television.

RE: Good
By jeff834 on 6/7/2008 6:27:37 PM , Rating: 3
I couldn't agree with the competition problem more.

Just a little background. I've had cable provided broadband since 1997 when in our area it was Adelphia. Service under Adelphia was AWFUL. Outages all the time, slow connections, etc etc. Several years ago our area was taken over by Comcast and things definitely got better. I still have to reset the modem every once in a while, but outages are very few and far between, speeds are good, service has been all in all decent.

But improvement of service isn't good enough in 11 years. I think in all that time we've had one speed increase (from I believe 3Mb to 6Mb down) and the price has only gone up (in 8 years about 20% not too terrible but still noticeable). Basically in those years there has been a complete lack of competition. No other broadband options until DSL was made possible a few years ago at the same price and much worse speeds. Now, however, Verizon has started to roll out FiOS in our area and guess what? Oh yeah, Comcast is working on increasing their speeds and advertising their asses off to try to keep their customers. A year or 2 ago I had never seen a commercial for Comcast, if you didn't have it you didn't have anything. Now if you watch anything on cable they have at least 1 if not 2 or 3 ads during EVERY single commercial break. Most of those ads are aimed at shooting down FiOS. It's actually pretty hilarious how much they are shaking in their boots while Verizon is swooping in and stealing their customers away. Personally I'm waiting patiently for the day I can finally tell Comcast to shove it.

Competition is a beautiful thing.

RE: Good
By FITCamaro on 6/8/2008 9:58:56 AM , Rating: 2
I'm hoping that with companies like Google moving into the Charleston area, that Verizon will take an interest in the area and bringing FiOS here.

In Florida we never had a problem with Time Warner's internet or cable service. Bright House took over and it was relatively the same. But my parents have extremely poor HDTV service. And for over a year they had terrible internet speeds. It took 5 service calls to get the internet issue cleared up. But despite continued frequent service calls, their TV service is still constantly pixelating and freezing.

Even my own service can be spotty with HDTV. When watching a HDTV broadcast, at least once in every show the signal will break up for a few seconds. Of course its never during a commercial break...

RE: Good
By Polynikes on 6/8/2008 1:02:41 PM , Rating: 2
I completely agree. I don't even understand how it's possible that there is no competition. Microsoft got its ass handed to them, now Intel's going to, yet the telcos have had no competition ever.

RE: Good
By themadmilkman on 6/8/2008 1:57:41 PM , Rating: 5
There is no competition because it's a government-granted monopoly.

RE: Good
By GlassHouse69 on 6/10/2008 12:49:34 AM , Rating: 2
I have 20 megabits download and 5 megabits upload.

i pay 35 dollars a month for that

europe sux.

RE: Good
By omnicronx on 6/7/2008 11:42:16 AM , Rating: 3
Which is why your current system makes no sense. I never quite understood how the US never caught on to what other countries were doing. Force companies with the infrastructure to allow ANY other provider to use their system, they just have to pay licensing fees, and their share of maintenance costs.

They did that with Canadian phone companies 20 years ago, and it has worked out great, prices dropped dramatically and in many areas the quality of service was greatly improved. Competition grew, and yet Bell Canada was still making millions of dollars.

RE: Good
By The Jedi on 6/7/2008 2:45:28 PM , Rating: 2
In the US phone companies are like that. For broadband services they must give competitors space in their regional central offices for services such as DSL. Cable TV is regulated differently.

RE: Good
By DM0407 on 6/7/2008 4:37:42 PM , Rating: 4
Which is why your current system makes no sense. I never quite understood how the US never caught on to what other countries were doing. Force companies with the infrastructure to allow ANY other provider to use their system, they just have to pay licensing fees, and their share of maintenance costs.

Why help the customer when you can get millions in lobbyist money? Its the government thats the problem, the providers are just playing the game.

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates
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