Guy Sues Time Warner Cable For Deceptive Acts & False Advertising Over Bogus Promotional Rates, Hidden Fees
from the transparently-non-transparent dept
On or about the next day, Plaintiff called the defendant's customer service number to complain about the overbilling. Plaintiff specifically informed TWC that the prices and services billed for were neither advertised, explained, nor agreed to. After waiting on hold for some time, a representative claimed that the $34.99 was a "promotional price" that should not have been on the website anymore and that the "modem lease" fee and installation fee were "standard" and could not be taken off. Inexplicably, the representative nevertheless agreed to remove the $47.99 "Internet, Install fee" from the bill.A few calls later, TWC promised to lower the price to the advertised $34.99, but did not (of course). After many more complaints, TWC did temporarily lower his bill to $19.99 (plus the "modem lease fee").
Zielinski also notes some other practices that he suggests are unfair or deceptive, such as leasing certain modems that the company insists will not work on its system if you buy them (thus pressuring people into the lease fee):
Another page on TWC's site, taken down at an unknown point in the last few months, contained a list of which modems TWC will "approve" if owned by a consumer and which modems TWC will "lease" to consumers. The list of modems which are compatible with its services is substantially larger than the "approved" list. Many modems which TWC falsely claims "will not work" because they are not on the "approved" list are the very same ones that TWC "leases" to consumers and charges them non-advertised fees for. Exhibit H.He also claims that Time Warner Cable sold him a speed upgrade, which was never actually delivered, though the company continued to bill him for it.
For some modems, the only distinction between whether consumers can use it to receive TWC services is whether TWC or the consumer owns the modem. If the consumer owns it, TWC will not allow the consumer to use it, but if TWC owns it—and can charge the consumer a monthly "modem lease" fee for it—the modem is perfectly acceptable to TWC. There is no legitimate technological reason for this distinction.
Many of the modems which TWC falsely claims "will not work" with its services are substantially cheaper than the ones on the "approved" list. TWC's false statements about which modems are compatible with its services, and its refusal to "approve" consumer-owned modems which are actually compatible with its network, have no legitimate technological justification, and are intended to deter consumers from purchasing compatible modems and to coerce them into paying exorbitant and unnecessary "modem lease" fees.
Despite TWC's email, Plaintiff observed that his upload and download speeds did not seem to have improved in any noticeable way. He began conducting a series of speed tests and discovered that his upstream and downstream speeds were the same as they were before the upgrade, even though he was now being charged $10 per month more for TWC services.One interesting note in all of this: early on, Zielinski made the decision to pro-actively opt-out of TWC's mandatory arbitration clause, which most customers just accept, and which would significantly limit the ability of most users to go to court. Here's one of the exhibits in his lawsuit filing:
Plaintiff then contacted TWC customer service using its online chat portal and spoke with several representatives attempting to resolve the problem.
The first representative revealed after checking Plaintiff's account that the modem TWC had previously provided was not compatible with the higher speeds. According to that representative, in order to receive the services advertised, Plaintiff would have to travel at his own expense to the local TWC office and swap out the modem for a newer one.
The second representative proposed the preposterous solution of giving Plaintiff a one-day credit for the services TWC was apparently incapable of providing, then canceling the upgrade and going back to the lower speeds.
When Plaintiff requested to speak to a third representative, that person initially said the first representative was wrong and that the modem was compatible with a "Turbo" Internet access line, then after a speed test showed the same sub-advertised performance it had a few minutes before, changed his mind and said the modem was not compatible.