Time Warner Cable agreed today to pay $2.2 million in refunds to 18,437 customers in 10 upstate communities after a two-year investigation found that the company overcharged subscribers, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.
The settlement requires Time Warner Cable to stop charging fees that exceed the amounts permitted under their municipalities’ franchise agreements, the attorney general said. Time Warner Cable also agreed to pay $200,000 in fees and costs in New York.
The settlement includes subscribers in the upstate towns of Glenville, Schenectady County; Livonia and Lima in Livingston County; Batavia, Stafford and Oakfield in Genesee County; Geneva in Ontario County; Thompson in Sullivan County; and the villages of Waterloo, Seneca County, and Ellenville, Ulster County.
“For too long, Time Warner Cable has been overcharging fees to its customers in direct violation of their local franchise contracts. This agreement brings millions of dollars in refunds to upstate consumers who overpaid their bills,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “Many New York families operate on a tight budget and every dollar counts. My office will not tolerate cable companies that ignore their contractual obligations and overcharge New York subscribers.”
Customers affected should receive credit on their bills within 90 days, and on average come to about $119 per subscriber, he said. Schneiderman said it appears no other town was affected.
Schneiderman said Glenville officials brought the issue to his office’s attention in January 2011. The investigation found that Glenville customers and those in the other communities were being overcharged on franchise agreements that Time Warner Cable had acquired from Cablevision in 1995.
Time Warner stopped the fees in 2007 and 2010 to some communities and made a $1.4 million refunds, but it continued in other places, Schneiderman said.
A franchise agreement is a contract that local governments negotiate with cable companies to give them the right to offer services and use public facilities, he said. In some cases, though, customers were being overbilled as part the deals, he said.
There was no immediate comment from Time Warner.