Charter Accused Of Charging Fees To Activate Service That Is Already Active

Image courtesy of Adam Fagen

It’s been the better part of a year since Charter leapfrogged to the top of the giant cable company pile by gobbling up Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. The transition, though, has been far from effortless for Charter, which now finds itself facing a potential class-action lawsuit brought by a former Bright House subscriber.

The crux of the complaint [PDF] is that when Charter took over the Bright House footprint in Florida, it charged existing Bright House customers new-customer activation fees — even though they already had service.

The customer filing the lawsuit had existing WiFi service from Bright House long before Charter acquired the company in May, 2016, the suit explains, nor did she ever order any kind of new or upgraded service from Charter after the acquisition. And yet somehow a $9.99 “WiFi activation fee” has mysteriously appeared on her bill.

She paid the bill, the suit continues, but Charter and Bright House continue to “attempt to collect the illegitimate debt (and in fact have collected the illegitimate debt) directly from Plaintiff and Class Members” in violation of the law.

The Tampa Bay Times reports that it knows of at least 20 customers hit with this $10 fee for activating a service that was already active.

A spokesman for Charter told the Times that the customers were charged “due to a billing-code error,” and that the company would, “proactively and automatically credit any customer who was incorrectly charged.”

The Times notes that while several customers told its reporters they were able to get the charge reversed, they all had to call and deal with customer service first.

As a result of all this, the lawsuit is seeking class-action status, to represent every Bright House legacy customer from whom Charter collected or attempted to collect the $10 fee, and damages of up to $1000 per violation.

The plaintiff in this lawsuit might be fighting a losing battle, as Charter is one of many companies — including virtually the entire telecom/cable sector — that forces customers to sign away their right to bring a class action lawsuit. One Charter customer is trying to avoid that clause by suing the company but not seeking any monetary damages.

Customers of the former Bright House Networks aren’t the only ones displeased with their provider being bought out. Subscribers of the former Time Warner Cable are cutting and running in many cases, Charter admitted in an investor call late last year, largely due to price increases for service.

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