Mediacom_9/26_gc, Cable provider fields two hours of complaints

By Gus Bode

Robert Bauman is a restaurant owner in Carbondale and a subscriber to Mediacom’s cable services. He said his business has experienced 187 interruptions in service since July and there is nothing Mediacom can do to make it up to him.

Mediacom has provided credit to customers for interruptions but Bauman said he is not satisfied.

“I don’t want credit, I want service,” Bauman said. “I want the television to work.”


Bauman said the cable service also went off twice Wednesday.

Mediacom fielded complaints from irate customers for more than two hours Wednesday evening at a meeting at the Carbondale Civic Center. Mediacom has a contract with the city of Carbondale to provide cable service and is the only provider in the area until 2006. The communications company went through an upgrade to its cable system this summer that angered many members of the community.

Many people at the meeting complained that the company had passed the cost of the upgrade to customers and did not provide service equivalent to the old system. Loss of signals, changes in programming, and increased prices caused resentment and hostility toward the company.

Randy Hollis, government and community relations manager for Mediacom, said the upgrade did not go well but most interruptions in service are likely limited to individual customers. Larger outages this summer left up to 500 customers out of service at a time. Hollis said it is possible that some system problems still exist, but most problems are from the line to inside the house.

The representatives of Mediacom said decisions on programming come from corporate offices instead of local offices. They said the new programming stems from programming vendors, such as Fox and Time-Warner, which leverage channels into programming packages. “Multiplexing” also requires customers to buy all multiple channels, such as the six HBOs, instead of one.

Max Grubb, commissioner of the information and telecommunications commission, said people need to file complaint forms with the city to give the city some documentation and leverage at the contract renewal time. The present contract was enacted on Nov. 1, 1991, and has a 15-year term. Grubb said an average contract has a five to eight year term and he has never seen a contract for that long.

Mediacom bought Carbondale’s cable system from AT&T and was approved for a transfer of the contract with the city. AT&T went through the same process after buying the system from TCI in 1991.