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NY attorney general sues Internet provider over speed claims

ALBANY, N.Y. (WHAM/AP) When it comes to speed, the New York Attorney General says millions of cable customers aren't getting what they pay for.

"Spectrum-Time Warner is ripping you off," said Eric Schneiderman Wednesday as he announced he had filed suit against the two companies which merged last year.

The lawsuit alleges that the cable and internet provider failed to deliver on promised internet speeds and reliability. Schneiderman said not only did top executives know about the problems, they deliberately ignored the advice of engineers of how to fix them.

"They conducted a deliberate scheme to defraud and mislead New Yorkers by promising internet service they knew they could not deliver," Schneiderman said.

There is no dollar amount attached to the lawsuit. Schneiderman says he is seeking compensation for customers and full disclosure of the "scheme."

Subscriber Colleen Dachille told 13 WHAM's Jane Flasch she is often left frustrated and feeling like she is doing something wrong when she uses the Internet.

"It's slow and sometimes freezes up and sometimes you want to kick it," Dachille said. "I'm retired, so sometimes I just walk away and try again later."

Andebrhan Haile says he became so frustrated with slow speeds, he cut off his service two months ago. "I cut it off because what they promised me, it didn't happen."

It takes just a couple of seconds to run a test to see if you're getting all the speed you pay for.

The AG's Office conducted the test tens of thousands of times on behalf of customers as part of a 16-month investigation that began in January 2012. Investigators subpoenaed e-mail communications of top executives.

"Executives knew that their Internet service was far slower than promised," said Schneiderman.

The suit alleges the company offered speeds up to 80 percent slower than promised and charged up to $109.99 a month for premium or "turbo' plans. It also spells out an even bigger ripoff for WiFi customers because the company did not have the hardware to handle the promised speeds.

"The company had the audacity to charge subscribers $10.00 a month to lease modems knowing they would not provide the speed," said Schneiderman.

Last year, Schneiderman's office asked Stamford, Connecticut-based Charter to fix the problems following its acquisition of Time Warner Cable.

Charter and Spectrum TWC said the investigation and resulting lawsuit are the result of "old" problems which occurred before the merger.

"We are disappointed that the NY Attorney General chose to file this lawsuit regarding TWC's broadband speed advertisements that occurred prior to Charter's merger...Charter has already made substantial investments in the interest of upgrading the TWC systems."

Schneiderman disagrees but says even if all problems have been corrected customers are owed a refund for a service that was less than they paid for and expected.

"These shockingly-slow speeds are a result of a calculated corporate strategy," he said. The lawsuit contends that even when engineers suggested solutions such as new hardware and more bandwidth they were told via e-mail it was "too expensive."

It's the same thing many subscribers are now saying about their bill. "Why should we pay for something we're not getting?" said Dachille.

AP-WF-02-01-17 1520GMT

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