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Charter to issue refunds to Burbank subscribers

Ryan Carter

Burbank wants Charter Communications to pay up. And it will.

The City Council voted unanimously on a resolution Tuesday that

will require the cable-television firm to refund what will amount to

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about $2 to each of its 30,000 Burbank subscribers.

The council was prompted by the company’s rate increase from

$12.84 to $13.49 from March to May this year, officials said. The

increase was implemented three months before the company was legally

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able to do it under Federal Communications Commission regulations. As

a result of failing to give adequate notice of the increases, Burbank

subscribers were overcharged $60,000, officials said.

“You might think 65 cents is not a lot of money, but from

regulators’ and Charter’s perspective, it comes out to between

$55,000 to $60,000 they’ve taken from the community that they perhaps

should give back,” Burbank Asst. City Atty. Richard J. Morillo said.

Charter officials said the problem came not from an attempt to

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bilk customers, or a faulty rate, but rather through not getting

written approval from the city during a filing period announcing

intentions to raise rates late last year.

“It’s an issue of the technicalities of the filing process, not an

incorrect rate,” said Christa Crafts, manager of government relations

for Charter.

The rebates will be given with a 5% interest rate tacked on. But

the $13.49 increased rate will remain, officials said.

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Through the city’s exclusivity contract with Charter, the city has

some say in regulating rates. The overcharge was flagged by a

consulting firm hired by the city as officials prepared for

negotiating a new contract with Charter in 2005.

After an hourlong debate on the same issue at the Glendale City

Council meeting Tuesday, the rate order could not even get a second

motion to pass, meaning that Burbank will get rebates, but Glendale’s

49,000 Charter subscribers will not.

“We’ve had customer-service issues for so long,” Burbank Mayor

Stacey Murphy said. “This is why our community gets so upset at

Charter.”

Crafts stressed the company was not fighting the city on the

issue.


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