CLEVELAND — Many of us have been complaining for years about the rising cost of cable and internet, especially all of the hidden fees.
Now there's a new charge hitting thousands of customers in Northeast Ohio who cancel their service. And it doesn't matter if you need to cancel because you are moving out of state, or only used the service one day into your billing cycle.
It's something that definitely came as a big surprise to Katie Huskey.
She signed up for Spectrum's internet service a few years ago when she cut the cord to save money.
As a young professional, it still took a bite out of her budget, but the real sticker shock came when she cancelled her service, after moving to Chicago. It's also why her dad Rick Huskey was the one who called us about the issue.
He told us, "I think they're being a bully in terms of charging people for services that they are not providing."
You see, Spectrum recently changed their billing policy. Used to be, when you cancelled you would be prorated, meaning you wouldn't pay for the whole month -- only for what you used. But now if you cancel, even if it's just one day into the billing cycle, you're on the hook for it all. Katie cancelled just four days in and was charged $71.00. In the past, it would have only been $9.46.
When the Huskeys called to complain, Spectrum said it sent a notice in the April bill. But what really angered them was the way it was done.
"They didn't put it in multiple inserts, or multiple billing cycles." says Rick. "They didn't send you a separate insert, they didn't highlight it in any way. They certainly didn't make a commercial like they do those other commercials, where they're up at four in the morning to give you the great service."
But in an online clip called "How to Video: Your Spectrum Bill" Spectrum tells customers "We want your experience to be as simple and as satisfying as possible, so we've designed our bill with you in mind."
Huskey disagrees, saying the bill was designed with the company in mind; not the customer. He points out, the stuff they "want" you to see is in bold type and a different color. But not that new billing policy.
Wireless and Telecom industry analyst Jeff Kagan says, "Charging them for a whole month is frankly ridiculous in a competitive marketplace."
He adds that with so many choices out there, it's going to hurt them in the long run, but their immediate concern is their shareholders.
"Many of them are losing significant market share and losing it quickly," says Kagan. "They need to find a way to increase their profitability and this is one way Spectrum is doing it."
The Huskeys paid the bill because they didn't want their daughter's credit to take a hit. But they're not happy.
"It's not because it cost my daughter $70 dollars," says Huskey. "It's because they didn't want people to know that they did this change. And no one knows about it until they cancel."
We asked Spectrum about the change and why it wasn't prominent in the bill. They emailed the following statement:
"This is a common approach to billing among other providers of monthly subscription services. Our commitment to our customers is unchanged; every day we strive to deliver superior products and services like our 100 Mbps minimum broadband speeds with a customer-focused approach that includes no annual contracts or early termination fees, nationally uniform pricing and easy-to-understand bills."
If you have a problem with your internet or cable service you can file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission.
Here's a link: