of the maybe-they-don’t-murder-their-customers dept
Back when I was writing exclusively about the broadband sector, you literally couldn’t go a week without a story about a cable broadband technician who fell asleep on the job, blew up houses, occasionally murdered people or was arrested for torture, and spraying kittens.
The problem was multiple: First, the executives at these companies were so fixated on growth for growth’s sake and wanting to please Wall Street that they routinely failed to scale their investments in customer service. They also loved using a variety of low-quality, low-cost subcontractors, both for the cost savings and because the multi-layered proxy relationships often offered less liability for failure.
US cable broadband customer service has improved somewhat in recent years, although the sector still has some of the lowest customer service ratings of any industry in America (consider for a moment the competition the sector faces for that title).
Case in point: A court ruling this week ordered Charter Communications (which uses the Spectrum brand name) to pay $1.1 billion after a Charter technician murdered an 83-year-old woman in her home after trying to break her stealing credit cards.
The lawsuit alleges that Charter weakened its review process during its merger with Time Warner Cable:
According to the complaint, filed by the victim’s family, Charter scrapped an employee screening program introduced by Time Warner Cable when Charter bought the MSO in 2016.
The plaintiffs also said that a cursory look at Holden’s background would have revealed his history of firings for forgery and harassment of colleagues.
The case also revealed that Charter appears to have forged a document to try to force the family away from the courts and into binding arbitration:
The jury also found that “Charter knowingly or intentionally committed fraud with intent to defraud or harm plaintiffs,” Renteria wrote. The family’s attorney previously said that “Charter Spectrum’s attorneys used a forged document to try to force the lawsuit into closed arbitration, where the results would have been secret and damages for the murder up to the amount would have been limited by Ms. Thomas’ final invoice.”
On the plus side, $1.1 billion is a lot less than the whopping $7.37 billion that Charter was originally on the hook for. Charter plans to appeal, claiming the “crime was unpredictable.” And while the lawsuit says the technician was fired multiple times for forging documents and harassing employees, Charter claims a criminal background check “turned up no arrests, convictions or other criminal conduct.”
Filed under: Cable TV, High Speed Internet, Installation, Murder, Technology, Telecommunications