Charter Communications license up for renewal

Are you a Charter customer? (More than 1,100 Southborough families are.) Are you happy with your service? Not so happy? If ever there was a time to make your opinions on Charter known, now would be it.

Charter’s contract with the town expires this month. Representatives from Charter and Southborough’s Cable Advisory Committee went before the Board of Selectmen late last month to discuss renewal.

“I wish we could report that we hear nothing but good things about Charter from their subscribers in town,” Cable Advisory Committee Chairman Paul Ferguson said, “But in fact we routinely hear from residents who are extremely frustrated by persistent equipment, service quality, and customer service issues.”

Ferguson told selectmen that as part of the renewal process, he hopes that Charter will be “forthcoming about what they intend to do to address these issues.”

In addition to answers about service issues, the Cable Advisory Committee is also hoping for more money from Charter.

Under its current license, the cable company pays the town $25K per year for operational support. That’s compared to Verizon which pays 4% of gross revenues earned from town subscribers. Ferguson didn’t say what that amounts to, but the implication was it’s more than $25K.

Ferguson said the Cable Access Committee recommends adopting the same 4% rate with Charter.

Both Verizon and Charter also made one-time payments of $100K for equipment and facilities. Ferguson wants to see another $100K from Charter as part of the renewal.

One of the things the Cable Access Committee would like to do with those funds is set up a broadcast studio that Southborough residents could use to produce their own programming. Area towns including Northborough, Westborough, and Hopkinton have public access studios.

As part of the license renewal process, selectmen want to hear from you. If you want to share your experiences with Charter or your opinions on their service, submit them in writing to the attention of Town Administrator Jean Kitchen (Southborough Town House, 17 Common Street) by Tuesday, February 9 at 7:00 pm.

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Matthew Brownell
12 years ago

Personally, I can’t dump Charter fast enough.

First, there is the outrageous pricing and contract renewal circus they force their customers to slog through. I signed up for the Triple Play (Internet/Phone/TV) more than 2 years ago for ~ $99/month, net of taxes.

Granted, this was an aggressive Charter price to attract new subscribers. But at the 12-month turn date, my Charter Triple Play package rate suddenly skyrocketed to nearly ***$175***, net of taxes. Worse – when I called Charter ( their Call Center is located somewhere in the Mountain states) to get a better package rate, I was told by an indifferent Charter customer relations agent that I would have to wait at least **3 months**, paying **FULL** tariff on my service, until I could re-commit to a better rate under a 1 or 2-year renewal. (???? !!!!!! )

Last July, our Charter home phone service was down for nine (9) days before competent restoration of service. Charter had five (5 !!!) separate service techs dispatched to our home on separate days to look at the wiring, modem, outside demarc, etc. before the problem was fixed.

Good God. The only salvation is that last month, our street was lighted with Verizon FIOS, and we can ditch the Charter Dog forever.

Townie
12 years ago

I also have Charter and have had nothing but hardware and service issues. My question is WHEN the contract is not renewed, what is going to happend to my contract with Charter?? and what kind of deal am I going to get with Fios, since it’ll be the only service in Southborough??

John
12 years ago

I switched when Fios came to town. Don’t think for one second that Verizon doesn’t have problems. One customer rep: Sign onto our website and use our FAQ site”. I probably could if Fios was up and running.

Dan
12 years ago

Please, PLEASE…drop the contract with Charter. Let me begin to list the litany of reasons I have been desperately waiting for Verizon FiOS so that I can dump Charter:

1. Charter once turned my service off for no reason and claimed I had not paid my bill on time when I had it on AUTO pay. What had happened was that my credit card expired. I updated the credit card online the day I was notified and I even talked to customer service, and they said I was all set. Weeks later my service was shut off. It took me over an hour with customer service to get it turned back, and only after asking to speak with a supervisor.

2. For a period of months, my Charter DVR would randomly not work with a message saying that it was not activated and I would have to call customer service to get it turned back on, which usually took 15+ minutes. This happened 3 or 4 times, I still don’t know why.

3. The DVR’s have software that is slow and difficult to use. The UI looks like it is from the early days of DOS on my 286 computer.

4. The HD channel selection is weak compared to the competition.

5. No 1080p

Must I add that this company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection?

I could go on. Let me just leave it at I have rarely dealt with a company of such utter ineptitude in the area of customer service. Add to that expensive pricing and sub-standard services and I can’t think of any reason TO keep Charter. If it was not for the monopoly they have in our market, I am sure I speak for many who will literally switch in a heartbeat.

I can’t wait for the day I can call and cancel Charter service. Please don’t renew the contract. PLEASE.

Donna McDaniel
12 years ago

I guess I’m glad that I’m not the only one at my wit’s end about Charter, though I have to say they’ve been taking money off my bill presumably because I’ve complained so many times. I think I spend more time on the phone with them than my friends and relatives! I’ve learned to just keep saying “agent” when that robot suggests I can go on the web to find the answers—WELL NOT WHEN CHARTER IS DOWN, I CAN’T!!

BUT here’s what worries me–Verizon will not install FIOS to places that have underground wiring and are multi-family housing… Southborough Meadows, where I live, is both (duplexes are considered multi–). Can’t go back to AOL.. I have Vonage, too, so want cable for that.

JZP
12 years ago

Our household is the home of two telecommunications professionals who have played nontrviial roles in shaping Internet services since the days of early commercialization of the ‘net to today. It was always on one level amusing for both of us to drive the networks of various national three-letter-acronym service providers from a little cablemodem in the woods, and especially because we could not get DSL. However, when VZ received their video license we jumped ship without hesitation.

All services have problems, and there is not one that charges *enough* for what they seek to deliver, but the data issues on VZ’s fios service have been miniscule. This was not the case for the Charter service we had previously VZ did have serious DVR/set-top box quality issues but we seem to have leveled out. The onsie-twosie fee increases should not go unchallenged, however.

Rather than just yell at Charter and get a “better deal”, do we have another suitor waiting in the wings? If not, there’s only so much available to us. I would love to see a timeline for DOCSIS3 deployment and IPv6 from whatever entity gets the franchise.

In general, localities *under*value their rights of way. It would be quite progressive for Southborough (and other metrowest communities) to examine in what way we could profit from providing fiber paths diverse from the common railroad & interstate routes.

Kelly Winand
12 years ago

I would love to switch from Charter. A couple months ago we were without phone service for several days. Each time we called we got the voice recording that there was a power outage in our area, blah, blah, blah. After a couple days of calling we were told the outage in our area had been fixed and we should have had power restored. A couple days went by and when that didn’t happen we called again and actually had a rep tell us they had to get 100 calls about an outage in our area before it could be fixed?!! Finally someone came out (after we were told that were the problem on our end, we would of course be charged), and surprise! It was a problem with the cable line coming to our house. They had to run a temporary cable line from the top of the street, all the way down our side yard, and were told they would have to dig up our front yard in the spring to replace the original. (I’m sure that will go well). Our signal is constantly going out so that we have to restart the computer multiple times a day (this has been going on for years) and now several times a day our TV goes static for up to 30 seconds (we have several televisions and it happens on all of them, so we know it’s not the TVs themselves).

We were so happy when Verizon came to our street and put down lines, but that was a year ago, and each time I call them to ask when we’ll ever have Verizon on our street, I get no answers. At this rate we’ll be in a nursing home by the time Verizon gets around to hooking up our street, so we are seriously considering switching to either Direct TV or Dish Network, but don’t know much about them. Anybody out there happy with these providers?

Former Townie
12 years ago
Reply to  Kelly Winand

We don’t live in Southboro but have had Directv for over three years and we are very happy with it. The installation was quick, serviceman was professional and we have no trouble reaching them if we have any questions. You can add or drop premium channels like HBO or SHOWTIME anytime you want .

Shirley Jarvis
12 years ago

I recently switched from Lakefield, my internet & phone provider to the Charter bundle which supposedly was going to save me money. My first bill was for $186.22 which included installations and had a flyer included to switch to their 2 year price guarantee bundle to save up to $70 per month. I was told my next bill would be considerably lower because the hookup was one time only. My next bill was for $188.31. When I complained I received a credit of $42.13. Now my internet has been raised $10.00 and my phone was also raised $10.00 per month since the December billing. My money saving bundle is now costing me $150.00 per month. If I try to opt out of this program they are threatening to charge me $150.00 to change my service.

I have been looking into going back to Lakefield for internet & phone service and using Dish Network or Direct TV.

How can anyone be licensed to cheat people the way Charter is?

Ian Wallace
12 years ago

My question is why would anybody want to keep charter as the cable company?

The only people I can think of is Dish, Fios and Directv.

I only wish our new home had Fios available as the service and quality was superb at our old home.

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