Time Warner Cable Tells Customers “Oh, By The Way, You Now Have A Monthly Modem Rental Fee”

A friendly notice from TWC

Time Warner Cable is irking an awful lot of customers, who recently opened their mail to find out that they are now going to be assessed a $3.95 monthly fee for renting the modem that is already in their home.

Of course, one can go out and spend their own money on a modem to avoid the fee, but the cheapest one you’ll find that is on TWC’s list of approved modems will run you at least $50, meaning it would be more than a year until you realize any savings.

Pricier modems will run close to $150, so you’re talking about more than three years before that initial investment pays off.

Consumerist reader Ed, who sent in the above image of his postcard from TWC, says, “When I called to complain they said it was a fee applied to all accounts to cover software updates to the modem and there was nothing they could do about removing it.”

Here’s how a rep for TWC explains the charge to the NY Times:

“As we continue to deploy more and more cable modems, many of these modems need servicing or replacing, get damaged and some are not returned… The monthly lease charge will allow us to service or replace the equipment as needed and helps provide a better user experience.”

If only we’d all known that a $3.95 monthly fee was the one thing separating Time Warner Cable customers from receiving acceptable levels of service! If so, then we at Consumerist should expect to see a corresponding decline in the number of complaints we get about the company, right?

But wait — Comcast charges their customers a $7/month fee for modems and we get mountains of complaints about that company. We sure hope this isn’t a cash grab from TWC, which is feeling the sting of cord-cutting customers and a decline in pay-per-view porn purchases.

It’s worth noting that any customer who thinks that TWC might have crossed a legal line by instituting a fee for a product once it’s already placed in millions of customers homes will not be able to sue the company, as it is one of the growing number of businesses that forces customers into mandatory binding arbitration.