July 24, 2014

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Spotty cable service has Lorain residents turning on provider

LORAIN — Some Time Warner Cable customers say the company doesn’t get the picture about bad reception.

City Council members are considering holding a public hearing next month to ask Time Warner to address customers’ complaints about pixilated images on their television screens.

“There’s no commitment. There’s no information. They feel like they’ve got you over a barrel,” Councilman Dan Given, D-at large, told fellow Council members at Monday night’s meeting. “They basically tell you to shut up and send them a check.”

Given said his request for a hearing was in response to an email from Loraine Ritchey, co-chairwoman of the Charleston Village Society, a neighborhood improvement group, and calls from a few other constituents.

Time Warner Cable, which serves about 1 million customers in Northeast Ohio and had annual revenue of $19.7 billion last year, pays about $600,000 in annual franchise fees to Lorain, according to Mayor Chase Ritenauer.

Because of the payments, Given said, Council members have, “an obligation to see if we can increase and provide better service to our people within this community.”

Ritchey said Tuesday that she received about 100 complaints from residents countywide after making a Saturday post on lorain.com. In May 2011, Time Warner spokesman Travis Reynolds told The Chronicle-Telegram a “technical issue that was corrected overnight with a software update” addressed complaints of frozen or pixilated images from Lorain County and other Cleveland-area customers.

Reynolds on Tuesday said he was unaware of any recent widespread area problems.

“That would lead me to believe that this is kind of a couple of instances at various houses,” he said.
Ritchey, who sent a complaint letter in June 2011 to Glenn Britt, Time Warner chairman and CEO, said the company is downplaying the problem.

“They’re aware. They lie,” she said. “This is a spiel they give and they have been giving that spiel for the last year and a half. It’s been over two years that this is happening.”

Ritchey, who pays a nearly $150 monthly fee for cable and computer service from Time Warner, wrote a follow-up letter to Britt on Monday and one to the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC letter notes that the customers pay a regulatory fee to the commission in their bills.

“Therefore, I would like your assistance to determine whether or not Time Warner Cable will be upgrading their service to the area, stopping the freezing and pixilating issues or stop charging for a service that is not satisfactory,” Ritchey wrote. “I have searches on my blog every day from all over the United States with the same complaint. Obviously, there is a huge problem.”

Given said Tuesday the purpose of the proposed hearing isn’t to beat up on Time Warner Cable.

“Maybe if we make them aware what’s going on, we’ll have better service and happier customers,” he said.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.