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City may sue Time Warner

City attorney exploring whether cable provider local residents have bemoaned is worth suing, as the city of L.A. has.

June 06, 2008|By Alan Blank

Costa Mesa officials might take legal action against Time Warner Inc. after the city of Los Angeles sued the cable provider for allegedly misleading subscribers and providing them with an unacceptably shoddy product and slow, incompetent service.

In response to that suit and a history of complaints from local residents dissatisfied with the cable provider, Costa Mesa City Attorney Kimberly Hall Barlow wants to find out whether similar actions might be in Costa Mesa’s best interest.

“I requested a copy of the city of Los Angeles’ filing so that I can assess if we need to pursue action of our own,” Barlow said, noting that she was checking into a possible breach of contract.

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Officials from the Los Angeles city attorney’s office said Time Warner could have to pay “tens of millions of dollars” in fines.

Time Warner is the only cable television provider available to Costa Mesa residents, according to the Costa Mesa’s telecommunications specialist, Dane Bora.

Community complaints became so vociferous earlier this year that the City Council called a public presentation where it questioned a spokeswoman from Time Warner. At that meeting, the council voted 5-0 to request that she compile statistics counting how many complaints the company received and how many customers canceled their service since Costa Mesa switched to Time Warner from Comcast in 2006.

Los Angeles’ lawsuit said Time Warner caused “major havoc and distress” by leaving customers waiting on hold for long periods of time, not responding quickly enough for service calls and raising rates in defiance of the city’s agreement with the company.

“The city of Los Angeles is not going to allow companies to rip off its residents,” said Nick Velasquez, a spokesman for Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo.

Kristy Hennessey, the Time Warner representative who gave the presentation at the Costa Mesa City Council session in February, said the problems customers were experiencing were merely a result of the transition from Comcast. Now that the “heavy lifting” of the transitional period is done, the service should be much better, according to Hennessey.

“All that is behind us. I feel really good about where we are today,” she said, adding that she was surprised and disappointed by Los Angeles’ suit.

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