US Cable Giant Charter Hit With $7 Billion Verdict After Tech Kills 83-Year-Old Customer

from the do-not-pass-go,-do-not-collect-$200 dept

A decade or so ago you couldn’t go even a week without a major U.S. cable company finding its technicians in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. You’d routinely see technicians that fall asleep on the jobblow up homesoccasionally murder people and get arrested for torturing and spray painting kittens (seriously).

And while major U.S. cable companies have made some small inroads with their historically abysmal customer service, apparently there’s still some work to be done. Charter Communications (which sells service under the brand Spectrum) recently found its name in headlines due to an uncharacteristically massive $7.37 billion verdict handed down against the company after one of its technicians murdered an 83-year-old customer.

The employee had taken to robbing customers as a side gig. The lawsuit (pdf) claims that Charter had eliminated a more rigorous screening process when they merged with Time Warner Cable, letting the employee and his history slip through the cracks:

According to the complaint, brought by the victim’s family, Charter got rid of an employee screening program put in place by Time Warner Cable when Charter purchased the MSO in 2016.

The plaintiffs also said that a cursory look at Holden’s background would have revealed his history of firings for forging documents and harassing coworkers.

Again, U.S. cable company customer service is some of the worst in the United States. Cable giants routinely rank worse than nearly any other industry (an incredible feat if you stop and think about all the terrible companies in the United States), and even government agencies like the IRS.

There are usually several reasons. These companies are all so consolidation and merger crazy they’ve expanded at a breakneck pace for years. Rarely are they willing to spend the money to ensure customer service scales with that growth. They’re also keen on using a chain of low-cost, legally firewalled subcontractors to ensure they’re not liable for substandard repair and install work.

And, of course, when you’re the only broadband option in town, your local monopoly means you don’t really have to try very hard. So, as a result, Comcast and Charter often… don’t. The result isn’t always murder, but it happens more often than you’d think.

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Companies: charter, charter spectrum

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Comments on “US Cable Giant Charter Hit With $7 Billion Verdict After Tech Kills 83-Year-Old Customer”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

So why is it that when I hear someone calling for a med tech, I fully expect a person to show up and not TV or something?

Presumably because of the indefinite article “a”. The countable form of “technology” is not generally abbreviated “tech”, whereas “technician” and “technologist” are (and, in medical contexts, those two are not necessarily the same).

Anonymous Coward says:

Just keep in mind that there is a good chance that the punitive will be reduced by the judge.
The goal is a reasonable balance between compensation (which is still $337.5 million) and the punitive, precedent suggest that the cap of the punitive part is around #3 billion (9x) and that the norm is $1 billion (3x).

Further the judge has not yet ruled on if the compensation is considered reasonable, and if not reduced it to a reasonable level. If the compensation part is reduced it is most likely that the cap/norm value of the punitive part will be reduced as well further lowering this big number.

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