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When Customers Dispute Porn Charges

The Problem: A couple from Gwinnett County, Ga., complained to their provider, Charter Communications, that their November bill contained nearly a dozen charges for “pornographic” pay-per-view titles (such as Hustler TV Headcase) they had not ordered. They also took their complaint to the local television station, WSB-TV in Atlanta.

The Response: Charter escalation manager Michael Henry in the South Carolina call center spent an hour on the phone with the couple, explaining that pay-per-view and video-on-demand orders are linked to the serial number of the box in the home, and that it’s unlikely the charges were not legitimate. Generally, the next step is to check an account history to see if there have been other adult purchases. If there is no history, Henry said, he offers to remove the charges and explains how to block content. Charter can remove the coding that enables VOD as an option, and it can set a limit of $0 for PPV purchases, preventing future orders. The consumers were credited for the amount of the adult content, Henry said, to try to “rebuild the customer experience.”

The Unexpected Result: The TV station aired a story detailing the consumer’s assertions and claimed credit for the dropped charges. But Charter officials said they were working on a resolution before the TV report aired.