ALBANY - Don't feel like a deadbeat if you're having trouble paying that hefty cable bill this month - you are not alone.
ALBANY — Don't feel like a deadbeat if you're having trouble paying that hefty cable bill this month — you are not alone.
Over the past 12 months, Time Warner Cable sent more than 1.7 million past-due notices to residential customers in New York state — and shut off or suspended service to nearly 600,000 households — for falling behind on their bills.
The New York City cable giant revealed the numbers in a filing it is using to try to convince regulators to make it easier to shut off phone service to delinquent customers.
The majority of Time Warner Cable subscribers who had their service shut off were able to either pay their bills or set up payment plans that allowed their service to be restored.
Many are repeat offenders, the company said, and therefore the total number of delinquent customers may be inflated. However, the number of past-due notices sent to customers has topped 100,000 every month since April of 2012.
''We do everything we can to work with customers to help them maintain their services," said Time Warner Cable spokeswoman Joli Plucknette-Farmen. "And we encourage customers that are past due on their payments to contact us to explore potential payment arrangements so they can continue to enjoy our services."
The statistics, which cable companies typically do not make public, were revealed earlier this week by the Albany-based consumer advocacy group PULP, Public Utility Law Project of New York.
''The large number of customers shut off each month for bill collection purposes suggests that they are having trouble affording their Time Warner bills," PULP Executive Director Gerald Norlander wrote the PSC earlier this week.
The most difficult month for Time Warner Cable customers was in January — just after the holidays — when 200,000 New York subscribers were sent past-due notices.
Nearly 73,000 customers had their service shut off or suspended that month, although it was subsequently reinstated for 61,000 of them.
PULP is especially concerned with the number of Time Warner Cable's telephone customers who have lost service since it is considered an essential public need.
According to Time Warner Cable, the numbers of shut-offs and suspensions are customers who get any combination of its TV, Internet and home phone service, although roughly half those customers whose service was shut off or suspended were phone customers.
Time Warner Cable — whose average residential customer bill is $105 per month — had $11 billion in revenue for the first half of this year.
The company said the average amount owed on the bills of upstate customers whose accounts were shut off during January, when the company's collection activities were at their peak, was $211.29.
As of the end of June, Time Warner Cable had 14.6 million residential subscribers, down about 93,000 households over the past quarter. Phone service, an extremely competitive market sector because of cellphone alternatives, is a relatively small part of the company's business with just 4.9 million residential subscribers.
The company is also in a protracted battle with CBS over broadcast rights that has left many Time Warner Cable customers fuming.
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