Complaints Drop in L.A. But Could Spike with Hikes

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Los Angeles— Complaints about cable service here have fallen off compared to 2001, but they could spike again now that the city's operators have announced rate increases.

According to quarterly statistics recently presented to the city's Board of Information Technology, Los Angeles logged 2,197 complaints from consumers in the first three quarters of this year.

More than 2,000 additional calls were logged as inquiries, such queries from subscribers who called to ask if there are competitive alternatives to the current operators.

The calls are linked the city's four major operators: Adelphia Communications Corp., Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications Inc. and AT&T Broadband (acquired by Comcast Corp. in November).

Charter Communications Inc. has one system in the city, which serves 78 customers in Malibu.

The most frequent complaints are about rates and billing disputes, followed by outages. About a quarter of the calls are linked to programming charges, but other failings also irk consumers.

According to the statistics, one in 10 callers to the city are mad because, lacking a satisfactory response from a CSR, they were denied the opportunity to speak to a supervisor.

The report also gave a snapshot of the cable business in Los Angeles. In the nation's largest media market, cable serves 621,783 customers as of the third quarter. That's a drop of 10,282 customers in just nine months, according to the city's statistics.

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