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April 18, 2007

Charter blocking Qwest #s?

Here's the story I was working on when I asked for Charter telephone customers for help earlier this week.
Cablephone_battle

Basically, Qwest Corp. believes the telephone side of Charter Communications has been blocking its customers from calling Qwest. Charter says no way. A volunteer called me a few minutes after putting out my request. They called a Qwest at customer service number and got through. Qwest says Charter lifted the blocks on Rochester on Friday, but they are still mad.

Here's some from the story. I'll have more in print Thursday:

Is it a case of just crossed wires or a business putting up a roadblock to hurt its competitors?

Telecommunications giant Qwest Corp. believes the telephone service arm of Charter Communications in Minnesota blocked Qwest’s customer service numbers in Rochester and Duluth so Charter customers could not call to switch.

“Charter customers calling a Qwest toll free number are greeted with a message that informs them, ‘the toll free number you have dials is not accessible from this line,” wrote Qwest corporate counsel Jason Topp in a letter to Charter threatening legal action. It was dated April 13.

“Charter doesn’t block 800 numbers,” said Anita Lamont, a Charter spokeswoman in St. Louis. “This came out left field.”

The Topp letter says Qwest contacted Charter on March 29 about the issue after the company had checked out a report from a customer trying to switch to Qwest.

“…Charter confirmed the blocking was occurring,” Topp wrote in the letter.. Lamont denies that.
“We first heard of this alleged issue when we got a call late Friday (April 13). Then we got the letter. When we tried to get in touch with the sender, his voice message said he would be out of the office until Thursday (today),” she says.

Charter says complaints between companies typically go through account managers to be worked out, before attorneys become involved.

“That didn’t happen,” Lamont says. “It is highly unusual how the escalation went from point A right to point Z.”

While the Qwest numbers are available to Charter telephone customers, Charter is not satisfied. Joanna Hjelmeland of Qwest says Charter made the Rochester numbers accessible on Friday.

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Jeff,

You should do a story on Charter's Bundle & Save.

I made the mistake of taking their 12 month bundle & save 14 months ago for $127 a month.

At the end of the year, my bill went up $10. Then my next bill came for December-January. It jumped to $230!!!!! I called Charter to ask about the huge increase in my bill. The guy at Charter basically told me to quit my whining, stop be a cheap (explicative), and pay my bill. He went on to tell me that in order to take advantage of the bundle & save deals Charter is currently advertising that I would need to cancel my service for 6 months and then come back to Charter in July.

I did cancel my service, but I won't be coming back in 6 months to Charter.

Charter has been doing their bundle & save for a little over a year now, I think you should do a story on Charter and how folks who bundled with Charter won't be saving a single penny, but in fact will be paying more when the year is up.

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