New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has filed a lawsuit alleging that Charter Communications and its subsidiary Time Warner Cable have defrauded New York customers by failing to deliver the internet speeds and performance levels promised to them.
The suit was announced in a press release on Wednesday, and seeks to compensate users for "five years of broken promises." The release went on to state that the damages could end up in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
"The allegations in today's lawsuit confirm what millions of New Yorkers have long suspected—Spectrum-Time Warner Cable has been ripping you off," Schneiderman said in the release. "Today's action seeks to bring much-needed relief to the millions of New Yorkers we allege have been getting cheated by Spectrum-Time Warner Cable for far too long."
The Attorney General's office conducted a 16-month investigation, looking at internet speed tests and internal communications, to come to its conclusion that subscribers weren't getting the performance they paid for. The complaint noted that some New York customers paid as much as $109.99 per month for premium plans, and never even achieved the speeds promised by lower-tier plans.
"The suit alleges that subscribers' wired internet speeds for the premium plan (100, 200, and 300 Mbps) were up to 70 percent slower than promised; WiFi speeds were even slower, with some subscribers getting speeds that were more than 80 percent slower than what they had paid for," the release said.
And the problem is ongoing. Even now, Schneiderman said in the release, "Spectrum-Time Warner Cable continues to offer Internet speeds that we found they cannot reliably deliver."
The core failures, the complaint alleges, are in the provider's hardware and network. In terms of hardware, the press release said that the leased modem equipment was "deficient" and "could not deliver the promised speeds." Additionally, as of February 2016, the suit also alleges that more than 250,000 subscribers, who were paying for 200 Mbps and 300 Mbps plans, were given routers from Time Warner that couldn't deliver speeds higher than 100 Mbps.
Time Warner's network, the press release said, wasn't designed to reliably deliver the speeds and performance it promised. The suit also claims that Time Warner didn't make the necessary investments to improve its network, and that it rigged test results for performance.
Across New York State, there are roughly 2.5 million Time Warner Cable subscribers.
The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers
- New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is suing Time Warner Cable for allegedly defrauding New York customers by not providing the internet speeds they paid for.
- The modems and routers leased by the provider couldn't handle the promised performance, the lawsuit claims.
- The suit also claims that Time Warner didn't make enough improvements to its network to meet the needs of paying subscribers.
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Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.