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Outage outrage: Why customers are frustrated with Spectrum's credit policy

Some Spectrum customers are not happy with the way the company is handling credits for its widespread fiber optic network outage that happened over the weekend.

While the company will credit your next bill if you were affected by the outage, you're going to have to work for it.

Instead of just automatically crediting the hundreds of thousands of Western New Yorkers affected by Friday and Saturday's outage, it will only issue credits if you call the company, request one and detail your issue.

And that hasn't been easy, some customers have said.

"Every time I call ... I have to go to an anger management class," said Todd Hopkins of North Tonawanda.

Some customers described being put on hold for more than 15 minutes, only to get a credit as small as $3. Some said they wouldn't bother calling to receive a credit at all, saying the refund isn't worth the time it would take to resolve the situation. Others who did call said the process of claiming the credit was more annoying than the outage itself.

Most wondered why Spectrum didn't just credit customer bills automatically, considering the outage was so widespread.

Why put customers through another hassle?

"Spectrum should just give all their customers in the affected areas a $10 credit on the March bill and be done with it," said Tricia Powers of North Tonawanda. "In terms of customer service, it would be the right thing to do."

Carleton Chute of Niagara Falls agreed.

"You shouldn't even have to call, they know they were down," he said.

Spectrum said customers are required to call for the credit because not all customers were inconvenienced equally.

"The vast majority of customers lost TV service. However there is some variation on impact, which is why we will work with customers on a case-by-case basis," said Lara Pritchard, a Spectrum spokesperson. "Our customer service team is best equipped to communicate directly with customers, detailing any credit, timing and application."

Those variables have resulted in a wide disparity in customer compensation. Those who lost cable for six to seven hours, for example, reported receiving credits starting as little as $2.50 and going as high as $15.93.

When calculating a credit, agents take into account a customer's location, lost services, time frame and the package or bundle they pay for (select, silver or gold), Spectrum said.

Spectrum did not post a notice about the outage to its official Twitter page or on its website homepage on Saturday, and it didn't send automated messages informing customers of the outage. As a result, some customers assumed the problem was unique to their account, they said. They reported rebooting their receivers and calling Spectrum repeatedly, only to find the phone lines jammed.

Roughly 2 million subscribers in New York and New England were affected by the outage, which lasted from Friday night until about 5 p.m. Saturday. Spectrum blamed a winter storm Friday for damage to its fiber optic network. To claim your credit, call 1-855-707-7328.

Spectrum Cable says it has restored all services

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