Is Charter Telling Customers Their Router Is Broken Just To Rent Them One?

Earlier this week, a reader wrote in to tell us how a customer service rep at Charter Communications tried to convince him to keep his cable service my telling him a whopper of an untruth about cable companies taking over all the streaming video services on May 1 or some such nonsense. Now, another Charter customer says the company is misleading them and other customers into believing that their routers don’t work and they need to rent one from Charter.

Over at Reddit, a Charter internet customer writes in to say that after a year of things working just fine, his LinkSys router doesn’t seem to work correctly with his cable modem. The 10mbps service they pay for was coming in at 2mbps, if at all. But when they plugged their computer directly into the modem, it worked just fine.

The customer picks up the story with their call to Charter:

They asked what brand router we had, and when we told them they said that it was too old and incompatible (WRTG54, not that old at all), and pressured my roommate (the primary account holder) into renting one from them that would work better. I mean really pressed the issue with him. Obviously, we said no, that we’d been using the Linksys for years and it had been fine.

Well, here we are the next day with NO internet. I could not get an IP address AT ALL on our Linksys router. So, I tried another Linksys that I had sitting around. AGAIN, no IP address AT ALL. Charter told us that since the modem works when plugged directly into the machine that our routers must be bad and we needed to rent one from them. Again, we told them no. I suspected that they might have blocked the spectrum of Linksys MAC addresses, so I cloned my PC’s MAC address to the Linksys and it INSTANTLY connected. Our bad, out of date, incompatible Linksys router suddenly is getting the 20mbps speeds that our PC’s were getting.

I am aware that the modem “grabs” the MAC of whatever it’s plugged into when it’s powercycled. For example, moving the ethernet cable from my machine to my roommates would NOT work unless the modem was powercycled after the move to “grab” the new MAC address. This is not the issue here. Charter is actively blocking the MAC addresses of Linksys devices at our home after we told them we had a Linksys and refused to buy their router because ours was “broken.”

Obviously we’re fine because I know how to clone a MAC address (a VERY simple process in a Linksys device) but so many other people don’t. Is this even legal? At the very least, it’s shady and disgusts me.

And, as the customer suggests, when you google “charter +linksys” you find several more instances of Charter customers complaining about their LinkSys routers suddenly no longer working.

So the big question: Is this just a technical glitch or is Charter deliberately blocking certain equipment in an attempt to get customers to rent their hardware?

Charter Tried To Con Me And Lied About It [Reddit]