Consumers take swipes at Comcast cable service; lawyers line up against TWC

Maybe Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) wants to become a broadcaster because being a cable company is no cakewalk. As an MSO, the Philadelphia-based media behemoth is taking a beating throughout the land.

Absecon, N.J. City Councilman Drew Fishman has invited Comcast to attend a council meeting "and explain their services and pricing" and, he says, so far, "They say they'll cooperate. They'll meet with us. But they won't come to a public council meeting."

Fishman, a Comcast subscriber, said he's had his own "serious concerns about their entire bookkeeping system" after he was allegedly "charged double for a tax. It was only 74 cents, but how many hundreds of thousands of customers paid it," he told Shore News Today. "A full audit needs to be done and an examination of their business practices."

In Florida, the Avalon Lakes homeowners association is getting nicked for $44 monthly for cable service to vacant and foreclosed homes as part of a $44,000 a month deal it has with Comcast. The association wants the bill reduced to reflect the market and Comcast spokesman Bill Ferry told the Orlando Sentinel that's a possibility. "Sometimes the terms of the contracts are modified if necessary," he said.

In Salem, Va. and parts of Roanoke County a crowd of about 300 people, "largely older adults," as the Roanoke News described them, flooded city council to discuss their feeling about Comcast. They weren't, naturally, positive feelings. "After more than an hour of hearing customer complaints, two visiting Comcast representatives--Robert Jacobs vice president of franchising and government affairs, and Paul Comes, director of government affairs--offered their regrets and told the crowd they simply hadn't realized there were so many customer issues," the newspaper reported.

Because it's the biggest, Comcast often gets the brightest spotlight, but No. 2 MSO Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC-WI) is having its own problems in Texas where a Washington, D.C. lawyer has picked up the gauntlet (and the fees) for McAllen and other cities over the cable operators move to digitize public TV channels. The issue has been brewing, and reported, since early in August when McAllen sent TWC a letter, but a Time Warner spokesman called hiring a lawyer "surprising" but without impact on the operator's decision to go digital Oct. 1.

For more:
- see this story
- and this Orlando Sentinel story
- Roanoke News has this story
- and The Monitor this story

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Uh, oh, lawyers getting involved in Texas' public access feud
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