NY sues Charter/Time Warner Cable, alleges false promise of fast Internet
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman today filed a lawsuit against Charter and its Time Warner Cable (TWC) subsidiary, claiming that the Internet provider "allegedly conduct[ed] a deliberate scheme to defraud and mislead New Yorkers by promising Internet service that they knew they could not deliver."
State officials said they conducted a 16-month investigation that reviewed internal corporate communications "and hundreds of thousands of subscriber speed tests," concluding that Spectrum-TWC customers were "dramatically short-changed on both speed and reliability," the attorney general's announcement said. The 87-page summons and complaint filed in the New York State Supreme Court is available here.
"The suit alleges that subscribers’ wired Internet speeds for the premium plan (100, 200, and 300 Mbps) were up to 70 percent slower than promised; Wi-Fi speeds were even slower, with some subscribers getting speeds that were more than 80 percent slower than what they had paid for," the announcement said. "As alleged in the complaint, Spectrum-TWC charged New Yorkers as much as $109.99 per month for premium plans [that] could not achieve speeds promised in their slower plans."
Charter became the country's second largest cable company last year when it purchased Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, and it has 2.5 million customers in New York state. A Charter spokesperson gave Ars a statement, saying the company is disappointed that Schneiderman filed the lawsuit and that it concerns events that occurred before the merger.
"Charter made significant commitments to NY State as part of our merger with Time Warner Cable in areas of network investment, broadband deployment and offerings, customer service and jobs," the company said. "In addition, Charter was among the highest rated broadband providers in the 2016 FCC Broadband Report. Charter has already made substantial investments in the interest of upgrading the Time Warner Cable systems and delivering the best possible experience to customers. We will continue to invest in our business and deliver the highest quality services to our customers while we defend against these allegations involving Time Warner Cable practices."
Contrary to Charter's statement, Schneiderman says that the bad behavior didn't stop after the Charter/TWC merger. "Spectrum-TWC continues to underserve their subscribers by failing to make the capital investments necessary to live up to their promised speeds," the announcement said. "These investments would include substantially upgrading Spectrum-TWC’s network capability and replacing large numbers of deficient modems and wireless routers that subscribers currently pay Spectrum-TWC up to $10 per month to rent."
The lawsuit says the "relevant period" extends from January 1, 2012 to the present. The suit asks for a judgment directing Charter to pay civil fines of $5,000 for each violation and provide refunds to customers by "disgorg[ing] all monies resulting from the fraudulent and illegal practices."