DURHAM — Whether it is electricity, water or cable modem service, customers expect that when rates for the service go down, the change will appear automatically in their bill. As a Durham woman found out, that is not always the case.
More and more people are trading dial-up modems for high-speed Internet access. Competition for new customers is fierce, but an "old" customer of Time Warner's
service feels that a pricing policy is not fair and she wants to get the word out.
Chris Rasmussen was happy with Time Warner's Road Runner service until recently.
"I think it's a total rip off," she said.
Her issue? Rasmussen was paying almost $60 a month for Road Runner without subscribing to Time Warner's cable service. Customers who have both services pay $45 a month for Road Runner -- $15 less.
Rasmussen did not have a problem with that until her twin boys came along and she needed to save money. She canceled her satellite service and added cable to get the lower Road Runner rate.
"The customer service lady said 'Oh yeah, you'll save lots of money this way,'" Rasmussen said.
Days later, on a fluke, Rasmussen went to Road Runner's Web site and noticed the change that set off her anger.
"It used to be if you don't have cable, this is how much it costs, and if you do have cable, you get a savings and it didn't have that anymore. It just had one price," she said.
Rasmussen called Time Warner again and was told the price was now $45 for everyone.
Rasmussen describes the conversation:
"I said 'When did that start?' And they said 'Oh, October first.' And I said 'How come I haven't seen anything change in my bill?' And they said, 'Oh, you have to call up and ask for it.' And I said 'What? You have to call up and ask!'"
Rasmussen wanted to get the word out, so she called Five On Your Side.
"Who would know? If you already have Road Runner you're not going out there and looking at the price every day," she said.
Five On Your Side contacted Time Warner Cable.
"We've been very open and honest with our customers," said spokesman Brad Phillips.
Phillips said that the company advertised the new price on television, newspapers, in bill stuffers and on its Web site.
"We've answered the questions when we receive their calls. We put the pricing out for them to take advantage of, and again, if a customer contacts us and wants to take advantage of a new promotion or a new price, we encourage them to do that," Phillips said.
"Everyone needs to know if they have Road Runner only that they should call and get the new price," Rasmussen said.
Time Warner will not be reimbursing Rasmussen or other Road Runner subscribers who did not know about the change. The company said that those subscribers agreed to pay the higher price.
Ultimately, Rasmussen decided to cancel her cable subscription order and return to satellite.