By: JV Staff
No region in the country has been harder hit economically than the Greater New York City Metropolitan area as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. With unemployment skyrocketing and many small businesses collapsing under the weight of the economic downturn. New Yorkers are looking to cut costs and save a dollar anywhere they can. Some larger businesses have proven to be strong community partners by finding ways to accommodate or assist their customers during these difficult times.
Some companies, however, are doing business as usual. For one cable company that serves the Northeast region of the United States, business as usual translates into gouging their customers for every possible cent as often as possible. This shady practice usually does not come with a warning and the product one receives is of poor quality. And let’s not forget that the lackluster customer service can generate a huge amount of frustration. According to many local customers, these business practices have continued throughout the Coronavirus pandemic.
RCN Corporation, based in New Jersey, is a major regional cable provider that primarily serves the Boston-New York-Philadelphia-Washington, D.C. corridor. In 2014, the company reported that their network provided cable internet access to nearly four million people.
A number of RCN subscribers, both here in New York City and beyond, are not happy with the service. On the Better Business Bureau’s website, which allows customers to rate businesses on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best, and 1 being the worst, RCN’s customer review-based rating is 1. The Better Business Bureau features hundreds of complaints that have been filed against the company in just the last three years alone. The majority of these complaints allege that the company engages in unfair billing practices, routinely overcharges customers and somehow manages to sneak hidden fees into their bills. Customers were never made aware of these hidden charges and rate hikes when dealing with customer service representatives that, according to many complaints, are highly ineffective and in some cases, quite rude.
The reviews aren’t any better on the website consumeraffairs.com, another forum where consumers can post their gripes and issues they have with businesses. Consumer Affairs also offers contributors the opportunity to review a business on a similar 1 to 5 scale. RCN’s rating of 1 at Consumer Affairs matches its rating at the Better Business Bureau. Many of the reviews that RCN customers have left about their cable/internet provider on the Consumer Affairs website have been posted recently, during the COVID-19 crisis.
On April 17th, one New York, NY based RCN customer said:
“My RCN bill for cable & internet increases in price almost every month. I’ve tried several times to call to speak to customer service and cannot get through to anyone. I have one of the most basic packages and it has increased from a little over $100/month at the beginning (2 1/2 years ago) to over $200 now. Beware of this company and the advertised prices at the beginning of the service. Very dissatisfied with this company.”
A May 1, 2020 post from a consumer who lives in Long Island City said:
“As a lot said, the bill goes up time by time without informing the customers and it’s off the chart! If I can live with these all, there’s one thing that really frustrates me. I cancel the service last month due to moving and I made a call to their customer service. The lady told me the last bill of $73 will be refunded to me in full. Yet I waited about a month it’s not refunded at all.
“I made a dispute to Chase Bank who refund it for me. Then I received a letter telling me I did not pay the balance owed and threaten me to incur related cost to collect this debt and report to Credit Bureaus. I chatted online with their customer service again and being told I received the wrong message when I cancel the service. Then I received a bill of the last month which is $86.36. This company is not consistent with their own customer service.”
At fairshake.com, the top three complaints against RCN include the raising of monthly rates without prior notification, promotional rate offers that are not honored by the company, and poor service.
Fair Shake is a company which offers to help consumers lodge legal complaints against businesses.
According to fairshake.com, “Customers complain that their monthly rates are raised by RCN without their knowledge. Some people have seen their charges go up by as much as 50% of their fees are noted when they review their bills. While you may be able to get a lower rate if you call their customer service, you will get a rate that is still higher than what you were paying. And if you are an existing RCN customer, you can’t get these great promotional rates that they give to new customers.”
Fair Shake also states: “When new customers review their bills they often find that the special rates are often higher than what was advertised online. Fees, taxes, and other charges increase the monthly fees considerably more than what they were expecting. Other customers claim that they cancelled their service within the advertised 30-day guarantee, only to be charged for equipment or other fees.”
During these times of economic hardship for many New Yorkers and Americans, consumers are encouraged to thoroughly research before contracting with any cable/internet service provider.