Time Warner Cable’s Modem Fee Officially Makes Absolutely No Sense

Time Warner Cable recently ticked off customers by announcing a new monthly fee for customers who continue using their TWC-supplied modem. In a head-scratcher of a twist, the company now says customers who have its phone service must keep the modem, but will have to buy a separate modem to handle Internet service to avoid the fee.

See, while Time Warner Cable has provided customers a list of commercially available modems they can buy to replace the one supplied by the cable company, none of those modems will handle the TWC voice service.

But rather than merely waiving the fee for voice customers, TWC thinks it makes perfect sense to tell customers to go out and buy that additional modem and then hook that device up to the one they already have. This somehow would negate the monthly fee, even though that old modem is still sitting in the customer’s house.

When it announced the fee, TWC tried to explain the additional cost by saying it “will allow us to service or replace the equipment as needed and helps provide a better user experience.”

So… how does that work if the customer is still using that modem and not paying extra for it?

“[T]he way we have decided to charge this fee is, we’re charging it for use of the Internet portion of the modem,” a TWC rep tries to explain to the NY Times, presumably while tap-dancing, juggling and trying to sell bottles of snake oil. “It’s a business decision… It’s a matter of starting to treat this equipment the same way we treat our other equipment.”

One customer tells the Times that when he called up TWC to get an explanation for this discrepancy, the customer service rep forgot to mute his call when she was waiting to transfer him to a supervisor. “She was discussing our conversation with a co-worker and said that they have to come up with something better, because ‘He has a valid point.’”

The customer says he’s considering a class-action lawsuit against TWC. Unfortunately, he is apparently not familiar with Section 15 of the Time Warner Cable subscriber agreement, which takes away that right by forcing customer into binding arbitration:

You may bring claims only on your own behalf, and not on behalf of any official or other person, or any class of people.