The city of Fort Worth, Texas, has fined Marcus Cable
$5,000 over service-related grievances.
Moreover, city officials plan to continue monitoring
Marcus' performance, and they could levy penalties of up to $10,000 if service does
not improve, sources said.
The city was reacting to 856 complaints received during the
fourth quarter of last year and to another 286 during the first quarter of 1998.
"We found that they were not in compliance with the
customer-service standards contained in the franchise that we both agreed to," said
Pat Svacina, assistant to Fort Worth city manager Bob Terrell.
Marcus executives have told the city that the problems were
the result of a $116 million rebuild of the local system, as well as an inability to
handle a flood of calls brought on by the company's introduction of a new billing
Ross Heupel, the MSO's manager of corporate
communications, said Marcus has addressed the response-time issue by doubling the number
of customer-service representatives at its local service center.
As of last week, Marcus had brought in 57 new CSRs, with
another 15 in training, for a total of 122, Heupel said.
"This a major rebuild, and we know that customers have
questions," Heupel said. "But it was when we put in the new billing system that
the telephones started ringing."
Meanwhile, Svacina said city officials plan to consult with
their telecommunications lawyers to see if billionaire Paul Allen's plans to acquire
Marcus will allow them to strengthen the customer-service standards that the MSO must
"We want to make sure that there isn't any
substantial change in the company's management or philosophy," he said.
Allen has said that Marcus' management was a major
reason why he bought the company, and Marcus officials said they expect to remain in