Texas-Sized Mess for Charter

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Nine north Texas communities are demanding more than $4.5 million in
liquidated damages from Charter Communications Inc. for failing to answer calls
promptly.

Officials at the cities -- Fort Worth, Denton, North Richland Hills, Hurst,
Keller, Burleson, Southlake, Benbrook and Duncanville -- said they are tired of
waiting for the operator to answer its phones in a timely fashion.

The communities are pursuing maximum damages: $3 per subscriber, per month.
That could total $4.7 million distributed among the nine cities.

Charter has made investments in the systems, upgrading the plant it bought
from Marcus Cable. The operator closed down two smaller call centers in
Duncanville and Denton in favor of a larger, state-of-the-art center in Fort
Worth.

But consumers still say they can't get through on the phone.

City officials said Charter has often reassured them that things will
improve. But there has been so much turnover among the local organizational
ranks at the systems that nothing ever gets done, regulators said.

Charter spokesman David Andersen said the MSO is in absolute agreement with
officials: The goal is consistent customer service.

But Charter disagreed with some of the assessments of past performance by the
cities and their independent auditor. The operator has asked for 120 days to
analyze the findings of the consultant, C2 Consulting Services of Dallas, which
provided the report that led to the damage assessment.

Andersen expressed confidence that a meaningful agreement could be reached
that benefits both sides.

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