LANESBOROUGH — From a lack of high-speed internet to getting Chicopee weather forecasts, local Spectrum subscribers aired their grievances to the communications company Thursday evening.
During a 90-minute Zoom forum, Spectrum customers chatted their questions and concerns to two cable company representatives. Selectman Michael Murphy, the moderator of the forum, also relayed issues that townspeople emailed to him before the meeting.
Murphy called for the forum after receiving a number of calls and emails in recent months from Lanesborough subscribers unhappy with the quality of the service, such as internet speed, especially compared with the other Spectrum franchises in Berkshire County. Spectrum covers North Adams, Pittsfield, Great Barrington and several large towns surrounding those hubs.
Tops on the complaint list was the availability of better internet service, according to Murphy, a longtime former Lanesborough Cable Advisory Committee member.
“I would like to know why internet speed offered to other Spectrum customers is 200 mbps (megabits per second), but here it is 100 mbps for the same price,” said Michelle Johnson.
George Dion, the Albany, N.Y., field office manager for Spectrum, said the internet service provided depends on whether the subscribers are new after 2016 or “legacy” Time Warner holdovers from when Spectrum’s parent company, Charter Communications, bought Time Warner five years ago. Legacy customers generally have older equipment and are billed based on the Time Warner service they had before the merger.
“You could still have a legacy account for legacy speed,” Dion said of the discrepancy in internet service.
John Maher, Spectrum’s regional director of government relations, said that even if customers have the higher speed, the number of wireless devices online at once in a household could slow the service.
The legacy issue also cropped up in other areas discussed, such as the outdated on-screen program guide.
“We have the oldest and most inferior guide,” Murphy said. “It usually has wrong information.”
Dion said legacy customers need a new converter box to get the true Spectrum program guide.
Customers who have questions about their status, including whether they have legacy accounts, can call Spectrum and talk with a sales representative about revising their service.
Lanesborough also gets its cable feed via Chicopee, rather than through Pittsfield, which explains why the local weather forecast defaults to Chicopee, 60 miles to the east, company officials said.
Chicopee is not the Berkshires, Murphy reminded them.
“For us, we are seeing weather that has already gone by,” he said.
Customer service complaints ranged from unknowledgeable representatives answering phone calls in the Albany office to unresolved technical issues.
“I have made five different calls one time and got five different answers,” Murphy said.
Several subscribers, through Murphy, said they want the option to speak with someone in one of Spectrum’s three Berkshire offices, Pittsfield being the closest, if they have an issue with their cable, internet or phone service.
Maher said ongoing training is taking place so local Spectrum representatives are more familiar with Lanesborough, especially the legacy account subscribers.
Though Dion noted that the technicians who answer a service call are from the Berkshires, some customers say that doesn’t guarantee results.
Murphy cited one person who told him two years of tech visits have failed to solve cable problems in that home.
Despite any ongoing issues, Spectrum officials urged customers to keeping calling if a problem persists, especially if it is an isolated one.
“Unless the problem is townwide or a neighborhood issue,” he said, “we won’t know about the problem.”