Back in October, before it got credit for being a good corporate citizen post-Hurricane Sandy, Time Warner Cable managed to infuriate a whole lot of its folk when it announced it was adding a $3.95 modem rental fee to customers' already bloated bills. Still, despite being angry, most battered and life-sapped customers quickly moved on. But not all of them. Today two different class action suits were filed against the country's second largest cable company over the fees.
"It’s a massive hi-tech consumer fraud accomplished by low-tech methods," Steven L. Wittels, one of the lead lawyers behind the suits, said in a statement. "Send customers confusing notice of the fee in a junk mail postcard they’ll throw in the garbage, sock them with a $500 million dollar a year rate hike, then announce on your website that customer satisfaction is your #1 priority. That’s some way to deliver satisfaction."
The lawyers in the suits, which were filed in New York and New Jersey, guesstimate that the modem "lease" fees will cost the company's customers a collective $40 million a month. The suits seek injunctions to stop company from "billing customers for the privilege of leasing old modems that the company typically wrote off as worthless years ago." Further they argue the new fees violate consumer fraud laws in both the Empire and Garden States and breaches customer contracts.
We've reached out to Time Warner Cable, a company whose good work since Sandy has been difficult for us to process, for comment on the suits but have yet to hear back. When we do we'll update here.