Glenville customers of Time Warner Cable will receive the lion’s share of $2.2 million in refunds, thanks to an eagle-eyed resident noticing that the company was overcharging.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Thursday announced a settlement with the company following a two-year investigation by the state that grew out of an inquiry by Glenville officials. The town in January 2011 was about to adopt a new 10-year franchise agreement with the cable company when a resident raised the issue at a Town Board meeting.
He told the board that he had reviewed his bill and the town’s contract with Time Warner and noticed that the company was passing on 5 percent of its franchise fee to customers instead of the 2 percent specified in the agreement.
March 9, 2011: Glenville, Time Warner mired in cable quarrel.
April 14, 2011: Glenville protests cable company fee.
October 8, 2012: Glenville officials seek new cable contract.
Glenville officials postponed any action on a new franchise agreement and referred the matter to the state Attorney General’s Office for investigation.
Time Warner officials said at the time that they are legally allowed to pass through 5 percent to customers based on federal law and court regulations. The town disagreed, saying that there is nothing prohibiting a municipality from setting a lower pass-through rate.
The Attorney General’s Office reached a settlement requiring Time Warner to pay $2.2 million in refunds to 18,437 customers and stop charging subscribers’ fees that exceed the amounts permitted under their municipalities’ franchise agreements. As part of the agreement, the company also agreed to pay $200,000 in fees and costs to the state of New York.
The settlement requires Time Warner Cable to refund overcharges collected since March 2007, with interest, to current subscribers.
As a result of the settlement, Time Warner customers will receive credits on their bill within 90 days, with the amount proportional to their monthly subscription charges. Individual overcharges vary by customer and town, but average $119 with accumulated interest.
Glenville customers would be getting nearly $1.2 million in refunds, according to town Supervisor Chris Koetzle. He said he was excited that roughly 7,640 Glenville customers would be getting back their money.
“I feel vindicated after so many people said ‘you can’t beat Time Warner.’ From the very beginning we knew that our residents were overcharged,” he said.
The investigation by the Attorney General’s Office found that the company stopped overcharging customers and made $1.4 million in refunds to subscribers in eight towns in 2007 and 2010 but continued overcharging in 10 towns and villages, including Glenville.
Time Warner Cable officials reviewed all of its New York franchise agreements it purchased from now-defunct Cablevison in 1995 and found no other municipalities where overcharges had taken place from 2007 to 2013.
Time Warner spokeswoman Jennifer Reed Holick said the company was not taking questions on the matter. It issued a statement saying “Time Warner Cable is prepared to be in full compliance with the settlement agreement entered into with the Attorney General’s Office. Impacted cable customers will receive a credit proportional to their monthly video charges on their statement within 90 days.”