ADAMS -- Roughly 10 residents derided Time Warner Cable’s service at a Selectmen’s meeting attended by company representatives, and used the opportunity to call for other options to break the cable provider’s "monopoly" on the area.
Angered by the recent loss of several channels, residents one by one stated their complaints and Selectmen followed up with questions.
Some residents were so annoyed, they held up the proceedings to applaud criticisms of the company.
"[Costs] continuously go up and we continuously get less," said resident Heather Blanchard. "I wish I could switch, but I can’t because nobody else offers the local channels."
The residents named the lost channels as C-SPAN, CBS and the public education and government access channels -- 15, 16 and 17. Extra charges had been attached to the latter three channels, they said.
"For those who cannot afford [the extra charges], they have lost the only local information, government and educational programming available in our viewing area," said North Adams resident Rachel Branch. "This is unthinkable, unacceptable and unconscionable."
John Mucha, director of government relations with Time Warner, said the company has switched the local access channels from analog to digital, a step that caused residents with older television sets to lose the channels.
He said they could regain them by contacting the company for an adapter, which he said Time Warner would provide customers free of charge -- until January 2015. Then, the company will begin charging 99 cents per month for the adapter.
Resident Robin Loughman complained that she’d tried doing just that, but was told she would be charged a fee for installation. Others had had the same experience, she said. Mucha apologized and told her it wouldn’t happen again.
Resident Michael Hutchinson complained the company charges him a $6 per month rental fee for his modem, when he could simply buy his own for $68. But he said they won’t allow him to buy the modem from them for $68 or replace it with another he buys himself.
"That adds up to a pretty darn good payout," Hutchinson said.
On the official side, Selectman Richard Blanchard questioned the company’s policy of charging "loyal customers" more while offering deals to entice new ones.
Selectman Arthur "Skip" Harrington wondered why businesses get charged three times as much for Time Warner Cable Business Class.
Selectman Joseph Nowak said, "My belief is if you charge people a lower rate you would get more volume. I hear from a lot of people: We’re getting gouged."
To reach Phil Demers:
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