NY AG: Spectrum/Time Warner Cable cheated customers, FCC

FILE - In this Feb. 2, 2009, file photo, a Time Warner Cable truck is parked in New York. Time Warner Cable says a problem that occurred during routine maintenance caused a nationwide outage of its Internet service for hours, early Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
FILE - In this Feb. 2, 2009, file photo, a Time Warner Cable truck is parked in New York. Time Warner Cable says a problem that occurred during routine maintenance caused a nationwide outage of its Internet service for hours, early Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) — Time Warner Cable, now Spectrum, has been ripping off its customers for years, according to the New York Attorney General.

Not only did they do it for the all-mighty dollar, the state’s attorney general said today the company knew it was failing to meet the promises it made to its customers for years, and yet continued to advertise for services it could never provide.

RELATED: Reports: Time Warner Cable, Charter overcharging customers

“For years, Spectrum/Time Warner has been promising one thing and delivering another,” said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

In a blistering lawsuit and subsequent press conference, the state’s top lawmaker said Spectrum, worked a scheme to deceive its customers, the market and even the federal government from January 2012 through the present.

“Time Warner built its multimillion-dollar ad campaigns around the promise of fast, reliable internet service,” he said. “But the reality is that the internet service was neither fast nor reliable.”

Between January 2012 and this year, the state took in tens of thousands of customer complaints, and did some of its own digging, Schneiderman said. They conducted speed tests, talked to current and former employees and obtained internal corporate memos.

“But after a 16-month investigation, we’ve found that the company conducted a deliberate scheme to defraud and mislead New Yorkers by promising internet service the company knew it could not deliver,” he said.

Spectrum/Time Warner is the state’s largest internet service providers. In 2016, the company earned $1 billion from two and a half million New Yorkers, or about one-third of the state’s residents who receive internet service.

Television and radio ads of Spectrum — and to a larger extent, Time Warner Cable — promise “super fast speeds” of up to 300 megabits per second, generally understood as the speed of data downloaded from the internet.

That’s not the reality, according to Schneiderman.

Between 2012 and this year, the state found top-tier subscribers, who paid up to $110 per month for speeds of up to 300 megabits per second, were getting actual speeds 70 percent lower. And if you’re one of the company’s wireless customers, which is about 90 percent of its market, Schneiderman said, top-tier payers were getting speeds that were 85 percent lower.

For the average customer, who was paying for 100 megabits per second, in most cases, were seeing speeds less than half that fast.

Schneiderman said company executives were told by internal engineers — and even customer service representatives — the company was incapable of delivering the internet services it was promising their customers. But executives said it would be too costly to fix, Schneiderman said. For example, the modems for which most pay a $12 monthly charge are incapable of handling advertised speeds, even if the company’s infrastructure delivered it.

“Spectrum/Time Warner executives knew that the hardware they were leasing to subscribers was technologically incapable those subscribers were paying for,” he said.

The lawsuit also alleges the company was not only deceiving its customers, but the federal government. Schneiderman said Spectrum/Time Warner manipulated the results of a speed test by the FCC to hide from regulators the fact their equipment could not deliver as promised.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for customers, but Schneiderman said it’s still far too early to determine what, if any, they would be.

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