Lexington, Kentucky, continues to be a sore spot for Charter Communications in its rebranding of acquired Time Warner Cable systems. And on Thursday, Charter reps met with local residents to try to hash out some of the issues.
According to one local report, as many as 200 Lexington residents turned out to voice their concerns about rebranded Spectrum service and pricing Thursday.
“Welcome, Spectrum, to the lions’ den,” Lexington Mayor Jim Gray reportedly said, as he introduced company representatives Tuesday night.
According to the Lexington Herald Leader, Gray did little to calm the angry cats, remarking to the crowd, “It’s not a very competitive business, and that’s one of the reasons that we have these challenges with customer service today. We have had very, very poor technical service, very poor customer service and price increases with no notice. No one should have to scrub their monthly bills for hidden fees.”
Often transitioning former TWC customers coming off steep promotional discounts for base TV and internet service tiers, Charter has faced a difficult road in integrating many TWC regions.
"We are focused on best serving our customers, and many of the concerns raised were around customers who are rolling off of promotional packages that they received under Time Warner Cable and into legacy TWC retail pricing," Charter said in a statement emailed to FierceCable this morning.
"A customer can choose to keep that TWC package at the regular price, or choose a Spectrum package which we believe will provides them a more robust package of services for a greater value," Charter added. "At Spectrum we offer high-value products at very competitive prices, and consumers have embraced our customer-friendly approach in legacy Charter systems, where we have gained TV customers over the past 12 months, even with robust competition."
Nowhere has Charter's challenge to convert customers to the Spectrum brand been more acute than in Lexington, with one local newspaper columnist recently accusing the No. 2 U.S. cable company of “raising new standards for customer contempt.”
At least Thursday’s meeting gave Charter reps a chance to get some messaging points across.
For example, Marva Johnson, VP for state government affairs for Charter’s South Region, tried to appeal to the economic nationalist leanings of the decidedly red region, noting that Charter is in the process of repatriating thousands of overseas call-center jobs.
Meanwhile, Jason Keller, Spectrum’s senior director of government affairs, played up Spectrum Internet Assist, the cable company’s subsidized internet product, which delivers 30 Mbps broadband service for $14.99 per month to eligible low-income families and seniors on Supplemental Social Security.
“We need to close the digital divide,” Keller said.
Lexington city services rep Roger Daman told local ABC affiliate WTVQ-TV that the meeting was a good first step toward correcting some of the concerns people have about the cable TV service.
And Geoff Reed, Lexington’s commissioner of general services, told the Herald-Leader that city officials are “very hopeful that things will improve.”
Of course, if they don’t, Reed said the city will look at terminating Charter’s franchise agreement.
“We’re very concerned and we’re exploring these avenues,” he said. “They’re uncharted water, but we do intend to go there.”