As a customer of Earthlink’s cable modem service, I’ve been happy being relatively immune to the frequent and outrageous price hikes imposed by Time Warner Cable on its customers. I’ve heard grumblings recently from my friends unfortunate enough to still be Time Warner Cable customers that their Internet rates were going up. Thinking I was once again free from this nonsense, I chirped at how my rates weren’t rising.
Then a friend pointed out the insert in this month’s bill, clearly stating that, yes, my rates would be going up. How much, you say? By thirty-eight percent!
That’s right: Internet service that has been $41.95 per month would now be $57.99, an almost 40% jump in one month.
Incensed, I took to the phone and spoke to an Earthlink rep somewhere overseas. She repeated the new rates and also said I would have to rent the cable modem, even though I’ve had the modem for six years and never paid a dime for it before. She didn’t have to ask twice when she offered to transfer me to TWC/Earthlink’s retention department at 877-456-6840.
I spoke with Rick in the Retention department, who chopped my rate down to $34.95 per month for another year. He reiterated that Earthlink customers do not pay to rent their cable modems, so the modem rental fee apparently doesn’t apply. This is in direct contradiction to what the Earthlink rep told me, as well as the insert in my TWC/Earthlink bill which states under Equipment Charges that the “Earthlink Modem Lease” is $5.99.
The cable company jacks its prices up nearly forty percent overnight. Can you think of a better example of the need for broadband competition? Last week’s news that Google Fiber is looking to expand into the Triangle area is music to my ears right now as it will show there’s at least one broadband company actually investing in its service. Time Warner Cable wants to raise my rates for the exact same service, and it would’ve charged me to rent a modem it had long since paid for.
Broadband competition is the only way to bring innovation to Internet service. AT&T U-Verse is here, Google Fiber may soon be here, and there might be other opportunities on the horizon. Time Warner Cable and its suitor, Comcast, are two of the most hated companies in America. With this kind of disrespect for its customers, it’s no wonder.