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 job, blow up homes, occasionally 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.