Fayette County

Updated: Disgusted with Spectrum’s customer service, Lexington sets hearing

Charter Communications Inc. owns Spectrum, which provides cable TV and internet service in Lexington.
Charter Communications Inc. owns Spectrum, which provides cable TV and internet service in Lexington. AP

The city of Lexington will hold its first-ever performance evaluation of Spectrum Aug. 24 at the new senior center in Idle Hour Park, city officials told the Lexington council Tuesday.

Lexington Chief Administrative Officer Sally Hamilton said Tuesday after months of back-and-forth between the city and the cable and internet company over repeated concerns about Spectrum and its parent company Charter Communications, the city has decided to ask for the performance evaluation, which is allowed under the city’s 2014 cable franchise agreement.

Hamilton announced the city’s decision at the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council work session Tuesday.

“We have been receiving numerous complaints,” Hamilton said.

Those complaints include channels disappearing without notice, equipment that does not work, long lines at Spectrum’s Palumbo Drive location and being charged for high-speed internet and receiving much slower service.

Hamilton said the Aug. 24 hearing will be open to the public.

“That performance evaluation will allow the public to air their differences,” Hamilton said. “We do not have a lot of rights under the franchise agreement, but we can demand respect.”

Councilman Kevin Stinnett said he thought the city should look at hosting the meeting at a much larger venue. Hamilton said the senior center can hold more than 800 people. They can have a second hearing if necessary, she said. The city would provide a moderator and staff to make sure the meeting is orderly. Hamilton said they are going to put forms on the city’s website so people can list their issues prior to the meeting.

Topics to be covered at the meeting will include but are not limited to: customer complaints, system performance and customer service.

Hamilton said officials with Spectrum and/or Charter have said they will be at the meeting.

The city’s franchise agreement and federal communications law gives the city little leverage with the cable company.

The city sent Charter a letter on May 24 asking Charter to address ongoing customer service issues and its decision to lay off 56 people at its call center in Lexington. Charter sent a response on June 5. That letter mainly outlined investments Charter has made in Lexington, Hamilton said.

Hamilton sent a second letter on June 14 that asked for a meeting with Charter and to schedule a date for government officials to inspect its complaint records, which is allowed under the franchise agreement. It also asked for other reports.

Hamilton said the city met with Charter on June 27. Charter agreed to allow the city’s cable compliance officer to inspect its complaint logs. Charter was given until July 14 to respond to the June 14 letter.

Since the June 27 meeting, the city also sent Charter a letter asking the cable company to delay a decision to move its government access channel called GTV3 to Channel 185. Charter is moving all government access channels as part of the switch that is set to take place July 25. Other channels that will be moved include: Fayette County schools will move from channel 13 to channel 197; the Fayette County Public Library channels 20 and channel 97 will move to 200; University of Kentucky’s channel will move from 16 to channel 184. Two other public access channels will move from channel 14 and channel 245 to channel 201.

Michael Pedelty, a spokesman for Charter and Spectrum, said the company has already notified its customers the switch will occur on July 25. It can’t delay the date for the switch now because it will create too much confusion, Pedelty said.

“We’ve already communicated the date of this and other channel changes to our customers and will continue working with the city in advance of the change to promote the new channel numbers — making these changes on multiple days will add an unwelcome element of confusion for viewers,” Pedelty said.

As part of a settlement agreement with the city signed at the same time as the 2014 franchise agreement, the cable company agreed to give the city $20,000 if it moved its government access channel. That $20,000 is for re-branding and education efforts. City officials have said Charter has agreed to give the city the $20,000 but it has not received the money.

In an email, Pedelty stopped short of saying the city would receive the $20,000.

“In addition to the steps we’ve already proactively taken to communicate the new location of the impacted channels, we will work with the city to promote the new government and community channel numbers.”

Beth Musgrave: 859-231-3205, @HLCityhall

If you go

What: Performance evaluation of Spectrum and Charter Communications

When: 6 p.m. Aug. 24

Where: Lexington Senior Center, 195 Life Lane, Idle Hour Park behind Southland Christian Church on Richmond Road

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