Report: Another 665K People Just Dumped Cable TV

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Are consumers getting bolder about cutting the cord?

That’s the takeaway from Leichtman Research Group, a media and research firm, which found the 11 largest pay-TV providers, making up about 95% of the pay-TV market in the U.S., lost about 665,000 net subscribers in the second quarter of 2016.

Though the second quarter is traditionally a slow time, this quarter’s lows surpassed the previous quarterly low set in last year’s second quarter, Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst of the firm, said in the statement.

According to Leichtman, Charter, Time Warner Cable’s new parent company, lost a significant number of customers (143,000), while DISH lost 281,000. AT&T U-verse fared the worst, with 391,000 customers dropping subscriptions.

Interestingly, Leichtman said the only company to add any customers in the second quarter was AT&T’s subsidiary DIRECTV, which net 342,000, bringing its total to about 20.5 million customers. Per Leichtman’s press release, “net additions reflect pro forma results from system sales and acquisitions, and reporting adjustments — therefore, comparing totals in this release to prior releases may not produce accurate findings.”

Credit.com reached out to every company in the release for comment, some of whom were unavailable.

Maureen Huff, spokesperson for Charter, pointed to this phrase from the cable company’s press release for the second quarter of this year. “On a pro forma basis,” it read, “total customer relationships increased 173,000 during the second quarter, compared to 54,000 during the second quarter of 2015, and for the 12 months ended June 30, 2016, grew by 1,251,000, or 5.1%.”

“Verizon lost Fios subscribers due to the strike,” wrote Eric Wilkens, senior analyst, External Communications, in an email. “We’ll be back to normal levels in the third quarter.”

Writing via email that “the report doesn’t put the numbers into context,” an AT&T spokesperson said the company is the world’s largest pay-TV company with over 25.3 million subscribers, including U-Verse and DIRECTV (U.S. and Latin America operations). What’s more, “the company added 342,000 U.S. DIRECTV subscribers.” A total of 391,000 U-Verse subscribers were lost during the second quarter, the spokesperson added.

Said John Hall, corporate communications for DISH, via email: “I don’t think we’ll have anything to add beyond what we’ve said on our most recent earnings call.”

Comcast, Altice, Mediacom, Cable ONE and Frontier did not respond to Credit.com’s request for comment.

When Considering Cable

Cable providers have had a lot more competition in recent years, given the growing availability of streaming services. These services don’t generally require a credit check and typically feature much lower monthly rates — though subscribers may not get access to all their favorite shows and live television events.

If you’re thinking of switching cable providers, it’s important to know where your credit stands, as it isn’t uncommon for cable companies to run a credit check when you apply. If you have bad credit, you may even be asked to pay a larger deposit. You can view your free credit scores, updated each month, on Credit.com. And if you’re not sure how to make sense of them, check out our tips for understanding your credit score here.

Image: BackyardProduction

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Time Warner Cable & Charter Overcharged Customers $7.2 Million a Year, Senate Finds

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A U.S. Senate investigation just gave consumers a reason to cut the cord. According to a report released Friday, TWC overcharged customers nationwide an estimated $639,948 between January and April this year, with the projected yearly total pegged at $1,919,844.

On top of all that, Charter, TWC’s new parent company as of May, told the Senate’s Subcommittee that it “over-billed customers by at least $442,691 per month,” which works out to $5,312,292 per year.

That’s $7.2 million in faulty charges. So what caused it?

Over the course of a six-and-a-half year timeframe analyzed by the subcommittee, “Time Warner Cable and Charter made no effort to trace equipment overcharges to their origin unless customers specifically asked them to and did not provide notice or refunds to customers,” they said in the report. Worse still, “Time Warner Cable and Charter did not automatically refund or credit customers for equipment overcharges they discovered.”

Fortunately, TWC and Charter have agreed to amend their policies. However, for its part, TWC said it “will not investigate when it began overcharging those customers unless customers bring specific concerns to the company’s attention.” The new policies will alert customers to overcharges and help them decide whether to take a credit or refund.

In response to a request for comment, a Charter spokesperson provided the following statement via email:

“An audit of our set-top box charges over the last nine months found them to be over 99% accurate. To move us closer to 100% accuracy and permanently resolve this issue, we have installed new controls to ensure discrepancies are caught and eliminated on a daily basis. Charter customers who were incorrectly charged for set-top boxes are being notified and given a 12-month credit for these fees. … We will put controls into place to catch such instances daily [at TWC], as we now have installed at Charter, but that will take approximately 60 to 90 days. Until then, we will proactively issue a one-month credit to any TWC customer that the current monthly process reveals was overcharged.”

If you’re thinking of switching cable providers, be sure you know where your credit stands. It isn’t uncommon for utility and cable companies to run a credit check when you apply, and you could potentially pay a larger deposit if you have bad credit. You can view your free credit scores, updated each month, on Credit.com. Not making sense of it all? You can read our tips for understanding your credit score.

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: Craig McCausland

The post Time Warner Cable & Charter Overcharged Customers $7.2 Million a Year, Senate Finds appeared first on Credit.com.

Time Warner Cable & Charter Overcharged Customers $7.2 Million a Year, Senate Finds

time-warner-cable

A U.S. Senate investigation just gave consumers a reason to cut the cord. According to a report released Friday, TWC overcharged customers nationwide an estimated $639,948 between January and April this year, with the projected yearly total pegged at $1,919,844.

On top of all that, Charter, TWC’s new parent company as of May, told the Senate’s Subcommittee that it “over-billed customers by at least $442,691 per month,” which works out to $5,312,292 per year.

That’s $7.2 million in faulty charges. So what caused it?

Over the course of a six-and-a-half year timeframe analyzed by the subcommittee, “Time Warner Cable and Charter made no effort to trace equipment overcharges to their origin unless customers specifically asked them to and did not provide notice or refunds to customers,” they said in the report. Worse still, “Time Warner Cable and Charter did not automatically refund or credit customers for equipment overcharges they discovered.”

Fortunately, TWC and Charter have agreed to amend their policies. However, for its part, TWC said it “will not investigate when it began overcharging those customers unless customers bring specific concerns to the company’s attention.” The new policies will alert customers to overcharges and help them decide whether to take a credit or refund.

In response to a request for comment, a Charter spokesperson provided the following statement via email:

“An audit of our set-top box charges over the last nine months found them to be over 99% accurate. To move us closer to 100% accuracy and permanently resolve this issue, we have installed new controls to ensure discrepancies are caught and eliminated on a daily basis. Charter customers who were incorrectly charged for set-top boxes are being notified and given a 12-month credit for these fees. … We will put controls into place to catch such instances daily [at TWC], as we now have installed at Charter, but that will take approximately 60 to 90 days. Until then, we will proactively issue a one-month credit to any TWC customer that the current monthly process reveals was overcharged.”

If you’re thinking of switching cable providers, be sure you know where your credit stands. It isn’t uncommon for utility and cable companies to run a credit check when you apply, and you could potentially pay a larger deposit if you have bad credit. You can view your free credit scores, updated each month, on Credit.com. Not making sense of it all? You can read our tips for understanding your credit score.

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: Craig McCausland

The post Time Warner Cable & Charter Overcharged Customers $7.2 Million a Year, Senate Finds appeared first on Credit.com.

Goodbye, Time Warner Cable: What Subscribers Should Know

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Say goodbye to Time Warner, and hello to Charter.

Time Warner Cable, holder of the worst customer-service score in any industry, according to a 2015 survey, is being phased out, spokesperson Alex Dudley told Bloomberg on Wednesday. The much-maligned brand will be a victim of Charter Communications Inc.’s $55.1 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable Inc., which closes this week. The deal was announced last year.

In the coming months, Charter will transition Time Warner Cable and Bright House to Spectrum, its own cable TV and broadcast services. It’ll take awhile, so customers won’t notice any changes right away. That said, Charter is acquiring about 16 million Time Warner Cable subscribers in markets like New York and Los Angeles, and about 2.5 million Bright House customers in states like Florida, Bloomberg reported.

Credit.com reached out to Time Warner Cable for comment on whether the change will affect automatic payments, but hadn’t heard back at press time.

As with any change to a service provider, it’s smart to keep track of payments throughout the transition to avoid being hit with late charges or, worse, missing a bill altogether, which can be reported to the credit bureaus and lower your credit score. You should also keep an eye on your mail for an important notifications about your plan.

Remember, if you ever switch cable providers, you should check your credit before shopping around. Many companies require credit checks and waive certain fees or offer better packages to those with good credit. You can see where you stand by viewing your two free credit scores, updated each month, on Credit.com. If your score’s in bad shape, you may be able to fix it by disputing errors on your credit reports, paying down high credit card balances and limiting credit inquiries in the short-term.

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: Craig McCausland

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