As publicly traded companies with monopolistic power, Time Warner and Comcast have been taking advantage of not only their unwilling customers, but also their shareholders by masking their fraudulent business practices with a corporate structure basd on negligence - from customer service reps to the top executives.
Granted that customers rarely have a choice in some areas for cable service (thank God satellite has diluted their influence), these companies should be held to higher standards, yet public opinion and analysis of their "business procedure" proves otherwise; shareholders and prospective customers beware - I hope a MAJOR class action lawsuit will put a stop to their fraudulent business practices - at best, the only explanation for what is happening to US consumers is a result of pure incompetence/negligence/greed.
I was a Comcast customer since 2004, and was transfered over to Time Warner around November 2006 - when Comcast and Time Warner were trading regional customers like drug kingpins carving out territory. Similar to criminal enterprises, it seems as though these companies have avoided accountability by outsourcing their business operations to collections agencies, as well as using substandard contractors for installation. The more parties involved, the harder it becomes to hold one person or entity accountable - and a good deal of people would rather pay them off then deal with hassle.
For starters, I was paying about $124 per month for BASIC cable and broadband cable Internet access from Comcast. I did experience a few billing issues - but I just assumed people screw up time to time, and I worked with them as best as I could. When both companies started to go on a trade-frenzy with service regions (including customer accounts) like they were the NBA, I began to worry, b/c Los Angeles was one of those areas. Comcast and Time Warner publicly vouched for each other to customers, but apparently it was all "show" - with no proper internal controls or information systems in order.
When my account was traded to Time Warner in late-2006, my faith in capitalism took a beating. For starters, when I moved to a new apartment, I called Comcast to stop service but was persuaded by a customer rep that it would be better to pay $10 and put a hold on my account, so that I wouldn't have to pay a $80 re-activation fees for the month or so I wouldn't be requiring cable service. However, upon moving to my new location, I continued to receive bills for the location that was supposed to be stopped. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I contacted their customer service demanding an explanation and have not heard from them to this date. As time passed and the more I moved, I began to realize how poorly Time Warner kept track of these accounts - intentional or not, it really made me question whether the cause was just gross negligence or if it was something bigger, perhaps because these billing "errors" had great potential to inflate publicly reported asset for the firms.
Comcast customers were told to "register" their accounts. As directed by Time Warner, I registered with two departments - Road Runner for Internet and Time Warner's Xpress pay for cable. I received a consolidated bill from Time Warner for $130 (same serviceds plus HBO and SHO) - and a few weeks later I received a separate bill from Road Runner. After spending two hours on live-chat and two more on the phone, I finally got the charge removed. A simple error that companies make from time to time... but having a general knowledge of business logistics, there has to be a cause for these double billings, and unless ANOTHER contra-account (IE. revenue) is documented, the discrepancy would have raised eyebrows at Time Warner.
The errors above, though negligent, are excusably not criminal. However, my next issue with Time Warner is what got me writing. Late-2007, I moved to a residence only supported by satellite TV, so I had to cancel with Time Warner. Less than a month of cutting service with Time Warner (I told them I was moving out of the country to save myself some time), I was sent a bill through Time Warner's PayXpress for $793.46 for equipment, which they automatically deducted from my credit card I used to AUTOPAY on my monthly bills. I returned the items to one of their equipment drop-off locations, and eventually got the money returned to my credit card account. Also, due having pre-paid for my last month, and cutting service a few days early, they even sent me a credit check for around $30-$50 - and my account with Time Warner was successfully closed - or so I thought.
Last month I checked my credit report and I see a negative collection account from Time Warner with a bogus account number (probably assigned by collections), and at the time, the amout was for $0. My credit score dropped around 50-70 pts. I called the collections agency and they told me it was an error, and to call Experian to have it removed - thus I wasn't to concerned.
A month later, I pulled an updated credit report (through IdentityMonitor), and was surprised to see that the amount was for $228, for an account that was opened Oct-2008, a year after my account was supposed to be closed. I called the CBA Collection Bureau, collections agency, and to no surprise, received no help. I asked her what documentation she had for this "claim", and was told that they only had my name, the address from my credit report, phone number, and social. They told me I needed to obtain some written statement from Time Warner in order for them to remove the collectoins account from my credit report. I called Time Warner Cable was told by the rep that I needed to talk to collections. I asked for the department responsible for overseeing their contracted collections companies, but he was convinced I was some deadbeat trying to get out of a bill. He told me that I Time Warner Cable is trying everything they can, but that ultimately, the burden of proof was on me.
I would have to find a receipt for the return, or pay my bill and take an unjustified blow to my credit. I've tried to access my PayXpress online accounts to see which one of my four addresses with Comcast and Time Warner the box in question was for, but I'm told my records are "unavailable" at the time. Federal law requires that they furnish the appropriate documents, but similar to any criminal organization, it seems as though manipulative practices can continue profitably by having another company or employee take the charge.
At this point, I don't know which party is more irresponsible, but there needs to be some sort of check on this exortive business practice. Is Time Warner Cable more to blame than Comcast for sending the credit dogs on me? Or is it the collections agencies acting without proper verification, clearly violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?
Shouldn't the owner (Time Warner) be liable if their dog(contractees) hurt someone (my credit)? How could they ask me to procure a receipt when there is no PO, SO, or the SKU of the "unreturned" cable box? I'm not arguing that there should be a statute of limitations on bills sent for services rendered. I merely want Time Warner Cable and debt collection agenicies to stop exploiting this . Given the condition of today's financial sector, it would be detrimental if we Americans llose even more hope.
Audit Check LA
Los Angeles, California
U.S.A. Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on Time Warner Cable