The $2.2 million in refunds represents the amount, plus interest, that TWC overcharged subscribers in the towns of Glenville, Livonia, Stafford, Oakfield, Geneva, Thompson, Lima, Batavia and the villages of Waterloo and Ellenville.
It was the folks of Glenville that first alerted NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to possible overbilling in 2011. The town alleged that TWC was in violation of franchise agreements it had purchased from Cablevision in 1995. Under these agreements, the cable provider pays a certain percentage of its revenue (3-5%) from town residents to the municipality but is then limited to how much of that cost can be recouped by charging subscribers; some agreements stated the cable provider could not bill customers for this cost, while others capped it at 2/5 of the cost.
But the AG’s investigation found that Time Warner Cable had indeed been wrongfully passing on this cost to subscribers in these areas.
Time Warner customers will receive credits — the amount will vary depending on the size of the customer’s subscription package, but will average $119 — on their bill within 90 days.
“For too long, Time Warner Cable has been overcharging fees to its customers in direct violation of their local franchise contracts,” said Schneiderman. “This agreement brings millions of dollars in refunds to upstate consumers who overpaid their bills. Many New York families operate on a tight budget and every dollar counts. My office will not tolerate cable companies that ignore their contractual obligations and overcharge New York subscribers.”
Schneiderman’s office says that Time Warner Cable had already been through similar messes before, having to issue refunds to residents of eight municipalities in 2007 and 2010 for a total of $1.4 million. As part of this settlement, the company has reviewed all of the remaining franchise agreements it purchased from Cablevision and says it found no further instances of overcharging.
In addition to the refunds, TWC has agreed to fork over $200,000 to the state for costs associated with the case.