NY Attorney General: TWC “Has Earned The Miserable Reputation It Enjoys Among Consumers”

Image courtesy of Photo Nut 2011

Last fall, the New York Attorney General launched an investigation to find out the answer to one big question: are New Yorkers actually getting anything like the internet speeds their providers claim, and that they pay for? The investigation is still underway, but early results say that from one provider at least, the answer is a big fat “no.”

Preliminary results say that there’s a reason that Time Warner Cable is still so widely hated by its New York customers: their service does actually stink. But of course, the company was recently acquired, and is now well on its way to becoming Charter Spectrum service, and not TWC at all.

So that’s why Attorney General Eric Scnheiderman’s office today issued a letter to Charter all about Time Warner Cable’s crappy service, and the hope that it will improve pronto.

The letter, penned by long-time internet advocate Tim Wu, now serving as a special advisor for the AG’s office, spares no words before taking TWC to task.

“We write now to underscore our hope and expectation that [the takeover] announcement reflects more than mere rebranding,” the letter begins, “and signals your intent to substantially improve the reliability, performance, and speed of the Internet delivered to customers.”

Wu then calls the initial results of the investigation “troubling,” saying that it appears TWC has “been failing to take adequate or necessary steps to keep pace with the demand of [their] consumers.”

Customers are experiencing degraded performance when streaming video-on-demand through services like Netflix or losing connections to online gaming as a result, the letter continues.

But it’s not just that the advertised speeds are dropping out — it’s that consumers aren’t physically able to get them at all. “It appears that TWC has been advertising its WiFi in ways that defy the technology’s technical capabilities,” Wu writes, “and has been provisioning some of its customers with equipment that simply cannot achieve the higher bandwidths the company has sold to them.”

The letter also calls TWC’s performance in its crowdsourced speed-tests of NYC residents “abysmal,” saying that not only did they not meet their marketing, but they also performed worse than the city’s other broadband providers.

“In short,” Wu concludes, “what we have seen in our investigation so far suggests that Time Warner Cable has earned the miserable reputation it enjoys among consumers.”

Still, it’s not all gloom and doom: the missive ends with hope. “You promised to ‘redefine what a cable company can be,'” Wu writes. “We hope your company will take the opportunity to work with NYAG to clean up Time Warner Cable’s act and deliver the quality Internet service New Yorkers deserve and have long been promised.”

[via the Wall Street Journal]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.