Charter Settles Suit with Make-Goods

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Charter Communications Inc. will offer consumers throughout the U.S. free premium services, high-speed-data connections or service upgrades to settle a class-action lawsuit over wire-maintenance fees and charges for unneeded converters.

In a notice advising consumers of the settlement, the St. Louis-based MSO stressed it is not admitting fault with the settlement agreement. Charter is ending the suit to avoid the “significant cost in time and money” from litigation.

The settlement amount may reach as much as $200 million, based on the compensation selected by customers across the country. Charter was sued by two South Carolina consumers in 2001, but that suit was joined to another challenge filed in Georgia and ultimately certified as a class action.

The suit alleged that Charter charged consumers for a wire-maintenance plan but did not give sufficient notice that the plan was not mandatory; and accused the cable company of charging some basic and expanded-basic customers for converters they did not need.

Charter, in an agreement tentatively approved by the court in South Carolina, has agreed to give consumers a choice of services, including: six free months of a premium service; a free cable modem and service for six months; or six free pay-per-view or video-on-demand selections.

Consumers are now being notified of the settlement, which is to be finalized in November.

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