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CABLE CUSTOMERS COMPLAIN ABOUT LATE-FEE ASSESSMENT

City officials want Insight Cablevision to give local customers more notice before charging them a late fee on unpaid cable television bills.

Insight, with its main offices in Sandy, has 14 years left on a contract with the city to provide cable television.Richard Manning, city recorder, said several residents have complained that Insight is giving late-fee notices without providing adequate time to make payment before the late fee is as-sessed.

Jim Brooks, a Springville cable subscriber, said Insight gives subscribers only about seven days to respond before assessing a $5 late fee. If payment is not received in time, the company sends out a technician who charges a $15 late fee or disconnects the service.

"It's just a built-in way for them to make more money," Brooks said.

An Insight official said the company does not charge a late fee until the subscriber is 45 days past due. Bills are mailed out the end of each month, and payment is due on the 10th day of the following month. If a customer is one month past due, the bill will contain a notice saying payment must be received by the 15th or a late fee will be assessed.

However, residents complain that timing between the late-fee notice and actual assessment is too short. With bills being addressed to a bank in Phoenix, Ariz., a customer must act immediately to register payment on the company's computer system before the grace period expires.

On March 5, Mayor Delora Bertelsen sent a letter to Insight informing the company of the complaints and asking company officials to review its grace-period policy. However, Insight has not responded to the letter.

"An extension from 10 to 15 or 20 days would more easily fit into a family budget and ease this sort of dissatisfaction with cable TV," the letter said.

Brooks also is dissatisfied with Insight's service and said the company has more than doubled its rates over the past five years. When he first subscribed to Insight, he said, he was paying $8.50 a month for basic service. The service is now $20.95 per month. Insight's contract has no provisions limiting its rates.

"I think the city ought to tell them if they don't change the way they're doing things, they'll let somebody else bid to provide service here," Brooks said.

Last month, owners of the Kearns Hotel, 90 W. 200 South, asked Insight to install cable television prior to the renovated-hotel's grand opening, but Insight refused. The company said the hotel was not within distance of a cable as required by its contract. Insight installed service to the hotel only after city officials measured and determined that the cable was within the required distance.

For the most part, however, Manning said complaints about Insight have decreased substantially since the company finished installing lines. During construction, city officials received numerous complaints about Insight workers being careless with private property, he said.