Think You Couldn’t Hate the Cable Company More?

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You might want to read the fine print on the terms of service you have with your cable company. Chances are that your cable company slipped in some jargon that has you relinquishing your legal rights and could potentially have you paying out the nose.

Cable companies are one of the most-hated industries, with consumers often complaining about poor customer service and the quality of service overall. And now there’s this. MarketWatch says:

“In a lot of places consumers have little or no choice about what cable company they go with, so cable companies feel like they can add in one-sided terms [to their service agreements],” says Scott Michelman, an attorney for Public Citizen. And they often get away with it, he says, “because almost no one reads the fine print.”

So, what kind of dastardly details may be included in the fine print? According to MarketWatch:

  • Billing dispute? Make it quick. Some companies, Time Warner Cable included, allow customers just 30 days to dispute a bill. “Since billing disputes are among the most common issues consumers face, this is a provision that’s extremely unfriendly to consumers,” MarketWatch said. Comcast and Verizon allow 60 days to dispute a charge.
  • Cable on the fritz? Too bad. Don’t expect a refund if your cable goes out. Some cable companies say their services aren’t guaranteed to work, so you’re out of luck if something happens. For instance, Comcast says its services are “not fail-safe.”
  • Act first, communicate later (if at all). Your cable company may be able to cancel services and channels, and change its rates, without telling you.
  • Sue us? Good luck. Many cable companies, like Time Warner Cable and Verizon, have mandatory arbitration clauses included in their terms of service. Essentially, this is waiving your legal rights, and agreeing to arbitration out of court.

Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson explains more about forced arbitration in this video.

Have you thoroughly read your terms of service with your cable company? Did anything surprise you? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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Comments & discussion

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  • Jason

    I had lots of problems with service interruptions when I had Charter internet. In a typical month my service would be out 5-6 days. After a couple months of frustrations and endless pointless service calls, I finally cancelled my service. I explained that I use my internet for a business and I need a consistent connection. Charter had the audacity to charge me an early termination fee. They claimed that lack off reliable internet was not a reason to cancel my service and I should be happy that they credited my bill when I complained. Needless to say I don’t do business with Charter anymore.