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Charter Communications to pay $255,000 to thousands of Washingtonians over hidden fee

Christian Fernsby ▼ | July 24, 2020
Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced that Connecticut-based telecommunications and mass media company Charter Communications will pay more than $255,000 to Washingtonians after failing to disclose its Broadcast TV Surcharge to customers who ordered the company’s services online.
Charter Communications
Washington   Charter Communications
Thousands of Washington consumers purchased Charter services online without realizing that Charter planned to add a monthly “Broadcast TV Surcharge” to their bill totaling as much as $6.05 per month.

Topics: Charter Communications

The $255,660 in consumer restitution will be directly returned to current Washington subscribers who were impacted by the hidden fees through credits on their bills. Thousands of Washingtonians will receive a credit on their bill.

Customers who receive a bill credit will get a notice on their bill referencing the Attorney General's consent decree. Every current subscriber who was harmed by Charter’s conduct will receive direct restitution in the form of a credit.

“Charter told its online consumers they would pay one price, and then charged them a higher price,” Ferguson said. “Hidden fees violate the Consumer Protection Act. I will continue holding powerful interests accountable when their unfair and deceptive conduct costs Washingtonians money – and I will fight to get that money back in the pockets of hardworking Washingtonians.”

The Attorney General’s Office began its investigation into Charter in 2017, after reviewing their website as part of the office’s Honest Fees Initiative.

Since at least 2012, Charter has charged a monthly “Broadcast TV Surcharge” to Washington cable television customers. The fee reflects charges the company itself is charged by local broadcast stations to carry their stations. Charter periodically increases the surcharge to reflect increases in the fees it must pay local stations.

When customers purchased Charter services online, the company did not disclose the Broadcast TV Surcharge. Charter also failed to disclose the fact that the fee is periodically increased prior to the customer’s purchase.

As part of today’s resolution, Charter will return a total of $255,660 in the form of bill credits to current subscribers who subscribed online to Charter’s cable television services since Jan. 1, 2012. The credits must be applied in the next 120 days.

Finally, Charter must pay $739,400 to the State Attorney General’s Office. Attorney General Ferguson will direct part of this payment to the State General Fund. The rest will be used to recoup the cost of the investigation and continue the work of the Honest Fees Initiative.