This is not likely to be a surprise to people who have ever subscribed to cable television. Cable TV companies have long been known for their tendency to raise prices on a regular basis and whenever a convenient excuse comes along that could make their price-raising activities look a bit more legitimate, they just cannot help themselves. In this case, two cable giants have raised their monthly fees by as much as $10 for something they are calling “Broadcast TV” fees. According to Charter and Time Warner cable, these new fees are the result of the fees that the companies have to pay to broadcast networks for the privilege of delivering their programming content to cable subscribers.
This didn’t sit very well with at least one cable customer who decided to file a lawsuit alleging that the prices that subscribers pay are often quite different from the prices that the companies state in their advertising. Again, anyone who has subscribed to cable TV knows that the prices they advertise for their programming packages do not include all the extra fees that get added to the bill that the subscriber actually ends up paying. It probably comes as a bit of a shock when someone signs up for a package that has been advertised for $29.99 only to find out the real monthly cost is $49.99! That’s not the type of thing that makes for a happy customer.
What seems to be most irritating for the consumer who brought the lawsuit is that the companies are not making this “network fee” known as part of their advertising. The consumer also argues that one of the core functions of cable TV is to provide access to local broadcast programming.
It appears that nobody is arguing against the claim of the cable companies that they have to pay certain fees to include programming from the big broadcasters, and consumers would probably even agree that those costs need to be reflected in the bill. It’s the surprise factor that is most upsetting to so many consumers. When you see an advertisement on TV or hear one on the radio that says you can sign up for cable and pay just $19.99 per month and later find out you really have to pay significantly more than that, it’s upsetting. Most people have to live within their means and must spend every dollar carefully. If you are going to tell consumers you will give them cable for $29.99 per month, you had better give them cable for $29.99 per month! Sounds like basic marketing and advertising common sense, but apparently that kind of wisdom is lost on cable giants like Charter and Time Warner.
Most cable customers are probably quite accustomed to seeing the litany of fees that show up in their cable TV bill which the cable companies provide so that they can see how many ways they are being fleeced. Even the government gets involved by creating taxes on cable service that they come up with fancy names for so people will feel like they are contributing to something worthwhile. A lot of consumers are quite tolerant and perhaps that’s just because they are so accustomed to being taken advantage of. It’s kind of refreshing to see that at least one consumer is willing to take a stand and old these companies accountable. Is it really so much to ask for when you expect a company to tell you honestly how much they charge for their service?
For more detail on this story, head on over to The Consumerist.