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Spectrum Gets An Earful At 2-Hour Hearing

Spectrum customer Doug Vanwinkle addresses company representatives at a public performance evaluation on August 24, 2017.
Spectrum customer Doug Vanwinkle addresses company representatives at a public performance evaluation on August 24, 2017.

Mayor Jim Gray says the city is working to increase competition for cable and internet service in Lexington. The announcement came at a public hearing prompted by mounting customer exasperation with Spectrum and Charter Communications.

More than 125 local Spectrum customers came armed with a litany of complaints Thursday night, a fact not lost on Gray.

"Welcome Spectrum... to the lion's den," he joked during short introductory remarks.

Following a brief presentation where provider representatives highlighted the company's expanding network, workforce, and investments in infrastructure, customers stood up one by one to tell a different story. Among the themes: unpredictable bills, questionable internet speeds, and poor customer service.

One customer, Christian Torp, complained that the company repeatedly charged him for his own equipment.

"I've probably over the years spent 30 or 40 hours on it," he told WUKY. "I'm a father and an attorney. I don't have the time to spend dealing with their fraud."

Many in the audience were seniors, reacting to what they described as unannounced rate hikes and unreasonable package deals that put TV service out of reach for those on fixed incomes. Charter spokesman Mike Hogan said some of the concerns boil down to confusion arising from the switchover from Time Warner Cable.

"Some of them were customers where they've had Time Warner Cable packages where they were promotional packages that have rolled off," he said.

Yet the drumbeat of dissatisfaction is echoing in the ears of city leaders. General Services Commissioner Geoff Reed told the crowd, if Spectrum doesn't show improvement, the Urban County Council could take more dramatic steps.

"The council can take action to fine. The council can take action to revoke the agreement that we have with Spectrum," he explained. "Obviously there are problems to be confronted if you go down those roads and there's options."

For now, Mayor Gray appears eager to find ways to give Lexingtonians more options.

Charter Communications, and its subsidiary Spectrum, acquired Time-Warner Cable in 2016 and now serve more than 700,000 customers in Kentucky.

Copyright 2017 WUKY

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now known as Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and Program Director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.