Exchange with Charter Lobbyist

I remain very concerned about Charter Communication’s poor corporate citizenship and willful violation of our franchise agreement.  I know the community shares those concerns.  In the interest of transparency here is my exchange today.  Given Charter’s outlandish profits in Rochester I feel the 3 items I am asking for are very reasonable.

Dear Councilman Wojcik, Charter’s desire is to have strong and positive relationships with the City of Rochester leadership. We feel that by establishing a forum for a more direct and free exchange of ideas and viewpoints, it can lead to a more positive results for both of us. We would like the opportunity to meet with you to have a conversation about coming to an agreement regarding the issues currently before us, and to gain your input and ideas about moving forward in a more positive manner. We would really appreciate some time with you next Wednesday, October 29th, anytime between 10:00 am and 3:00 pm, along with our leadership team at a location to be determined. Our desire is to make contact before your next Council meeting on November 3rd, and if this suggested time is not convenient for you, please advise of your availability. Thank you for your consideration! LeeAnn

And here is my response:

LeeAnn,
Forgive me for being cynical about Charter’s desire to have a positive relationship with the city.  Based on the fact that you printed up channel change guides with relocated PEG channels prior to asking for or receiving permission from the city.  Then after permission was denied you went ahead and did it in violation of our contract.  So I am cynical but I also realize you are not personally responsible for corporate abuses.

As you are probably aware I asked staff to take the necessary steps to find Charter in violation of our contract at the Nov. 3 meeting.  As such it would be nice to see you not in violation of the existing agreement.

I will make some time on Wednesday, I suggest we meet at 10 AM at [redacted] or some other neutral location.

Per the discussion at our Council Committee meeting I look forward to you sharing the real wage distribution of the jobs that you claim to have created in the community.  After Charter made that statement I immediately asked the city clerk to enter that in the meeting minutes.  In the past Charter has not been willing to share that data, I assume because many of the jobs in the community paid a poverty wage, hopefully I am mistaken on that.  I am happy that I will have some answers as to the wages Charter is paying in the community so long as you deliver this data.

In addition if Charter is sincere about there are 2 critical corporate practices that will need to change.  I am interested in what you propose to do on both.

1) Reasonable accommodation needs to be made for you digital boxes.  $7+ per month in perpetuity for a box that costs maybe $30 total may allowed according to the lack of competition in your industry, but it will not create a strong and positive relationship with the city.

2) Charter has a defacto monopoly status in broadband in the community.  1/3 of our kids in school are on free or reduced lunch and yet their families must pay $55 per month for unbundled regular price broadband.  They can afford that and our kids lose.  Comcast would offer 5 MB internet to these families for $9.95.  I think that if Charter were to bring a similar program to Rochester that would help to build a strong and positive relationship.

I am very disappointed with Charter as a corporate citizen, but with living wages, fair treatment of digital connections, and affordable broadband for those in need I think we could build a better relationship.

Michael

I am also concerned about the customer service, but that didn’t make this list but I will bring it up.

One comment

  1. I ask each ime we have outages and can not use out landlines, our cable tv and our Internet like 2 weeks ago 3 out of 4 days, called in so that charter would know about it, which 1 their computer did not show as we were talking the they saw the city outages, like the other 2 days. when something needs to be checked on or seviced the normal time that charter sets up is 2-3 ays down th road and a time period of 4+ hours to sit and waite on. Also since im a PCA Home Healthcare 24 hours for my patient, if we wereto have a emergency like it happend last year when my patient to a fall and fractured her hip charter was down and would not come fix the phoe for another near 2 days. so our lifeline did not work with the hospital cause charter did not send anyone out as when you cal you will never get anyone from your state always nebraska, or texas, or washington state and you cant call the local numbers they dont put them on anything channel guides anything unless they are on such small print you cant even see it. if this is a game to them its not funny and almost cost us a life last year here. Then last 2 weeks with all the outages with the switch over to get ready for digital, some readyness with all the large outages during the day and evening. If you dont ask them at charter when your on the phone if you can get any credit off, they say not unless yourTV or other Net or Phones have been out for at least 4 hours. Why? they crashed me while working on my business on the computer lost a long distancephne call on the phone and the other were worried for hours and the lists go on. We have to have a landline in case the cell phone battery goes down and waiting for days is not the answer to this. Charter does not show much of any caring for its customer, and the rates go up every single year the more your a customer the more you pay, the longer you with the more it costs . thats bad business. I did get some credit back after having to call in when i got a callback from charter after i had to be told to request one or i will not get any credit back off my bill. 4 years ago when i left charter cause our bills contracts were going up each year at least 10 dollars a year per month or kre even though we were on a 2 year conytact. why do they run a special like 29-29-29 and its 192 a month but they cant tell you that it will be that total, they say they cant figure the charges as our state and local taxes change in MN each month. now after 1 year we are on a rate that caused our price to go up to 128 i was told by one person on a call the other said 133 same day i caled in two people same compuiter system i hope and 2 different prices told to me. now this digital bit on each TV boxes or no TV. we never ot our packaged amount of stations only on 1 rv before for years and the other one got the up to 70 channels before it was off. We have no choices on the channels we get on these packages half those on our package we will never watch. half at most we will so why not less costs based on the package and the customer can nock off channels on those packages to save money on their bill, cause if we add something its so much per channel, but we cant take away all this crappy stations . One way the charter rip off way overall. but charter keeps adding more costs, wounder what it will cost in a year again even though the CEO of charter says they have no more contracts , then why do we get new rates for the next year which is always higher, sounds like a yearly priced contract that we are held to based on Monopoly Charter in Rchester, MN Seems we pay a heck of a lot more than a lot of other cities here why is that we allow charter all those big blue buldings to set up all those charete r jobs in our city, and still get the stick across our bank books dont we Mike, the city council and the City laywer need to stand up against Charter made up rules and if charter does not want to play fair im sure that a lot of other companies would love to get the tens of thousands of customers here and give us better prices like they do al over the tri state area already compared to ours. Also Rchester city should be working hard to get more cable companies to come into the city for a choice for the customer and no contracting, make the rules for our city for them to adhere to, if they can make their rules up then we should try to set some policy also.

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