After months of battling Time Warner Communications over poor cable television reception, the City Council has approved a settlement agreement that requires the company to give customers rebates and set higher service standards.
The agreement ends the city's six-month struggle to resolve problems with Time Warner that began in May after the company installed new transmission equipment and shuffled the order of the channels it carries.
Problems ranged from a one-day picture blackout to various picture and sound troubles reported by customers for weeks afterward. The city became so frustrated with the problems it even considered revoking its franchise agreement.
"We believe the agreement will minimize the possibility of the events that occurred during the month of May happening again, and the subscribers and the city are being compensated for their adverse experience," City Atty. Thomas W. Allen said Tuesday.
Under the agreement, Time Warner must provide rebates for up to four days of service for customers who experienced cable glitches in the period of May 2-17.
The company will send claim forms to its 2,300 subscribers this month, and rebates will be credited to customers' accounts within 45 days after the forms are returned to the company. Time Warner has already reimbursed some customers for the disruption in service.
In the future, the company must give the city 30 days' written notice before installing new equipment or shuffling channels, and it agreed to notify customers by mail of any changes to channel order.
Also, to resolve customer service problems, the company agreed to expand its office hours. Time Warner will keep its business office open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and for half a day on Saturdays, and will staff a 24-hour telephone line.
Subscribers in May complained that they had difficulty getting through to Time Warner service representatives because telephone lines were busy.
The company will also donate $3,000 a year for three years to city-sponsored programs.