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Sen. McCaskill Hammers MVPDs Over Customer Service, Fees

Related: Senate Report Cites Charter, Time Warner Cable Overcharges

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) slammed cable operators for customer service at the opening of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations hearing on customer service and billing.

McCaskill released a report outlining the issues addressed and problems discovered related to a year-long investigation and based on information supplied by MVPDs. "All of the companies in this investigation have increased their prices since 2011, with the cost of some packages increasing by as much as 33%," said the report, "while all of the providers notified customers of upcoming price increases, this notification was not always effective."

She also narrated a "nightmare" customer service call she recently placed to try to get a fee removed from her bill, suggesting she was given the runaround before a customer retention rep took various steps to keep her from dropping the service. (She got $120 bucks in credits and cancelled a $7.99 fee.) She said the industry had a long way to go to cure its customer service problems. Most of the witnesses conceded the same, but said they were working dilligently to improve.

The first witness out of the gate was Tom Karinshak, senior VP, customer service for Comcast, who acknowledged that Comcast and the industry in general have not always made customers service the priority it should have been, adding: "I am sorry for that."

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.