Charter Customer Sues Over Hidden Fees, Claims 'Massive Billing Fraud'

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A Charter customer has sued the cable company, alleging that it falsely advertises a lower price than it actually charges and falsely tells customers that extra fees tacked onto their bills are mandated by the government. The complaint, filed in California State Superior court in San Diego, takes aim at the “Broadcast TV” and “Sports Programming” surcharges that are added to customers’ bills despite not being included in the advertised rate. “Charter is committing massive billing fraud by disguising price increases above the advertised and promised service package price in the form of the bogus ‘Broadcast TV and Sports Programming Surcharges’ line item on customer bills,” said the lawsuit filed last week by Michael Song. The plaintiff is a subscriber in California, where Charter, the second largest cable company in the US after Comcast, operates via its newly acquired Time Warner Cable (TWC) subsidiary. Song is paying an extra $8.75 a month from those two fees combined. In addition to subtracting the fees from the advertised price, Charter falsely tells customers that it collects the fees to comply with government mandates, the lawsuit says. A Charter/TWC bill from last month is included in the complaint, and it says, “TWC imposes surcharges to recover costs of complying with its governmental obligations.” Song’s complaint also has a transcript of a chat with a Charter customer service agent, who claimed that Charter pays the broadcast fee back to the government. The customer service agent apparently has only a limited grasp of English, but the chat transcript helps illustrate one of the ways in which customers are being misinformed about their bills. Song’s lawsuit repeatedly refers to the Broadcast TV and Sports Programming surcharges as “bogus” and “hidden,” since they subtract a portion of the standard monthly charges from the “services” section of the bill.

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