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Spectrum Plays Hardball, Even With Nursing Home Residents

Posted: Updated:
BROOME COUNTY, N.Y. -

Mike Keenan has worked in long-term care for 30 years. Has negotiated hundreds of contracts. But, nothing prepared him for Spectrum Cable.

“Spectrum had taken the position that even though we had a contract in force until December 2018 that we needed to sign a new contract immediately. If not, they threatened that we would lose service at our Good Shepherd Fairview in Binghamton location and our Good Shepherd Villages at our Endwell location."

— Mike Keenan, President & CEO, Good Shepherd Communities

Both contracts include cable and internet.

Keenan said he repeatedly told his Spectrum sales representative the Good Shepherd did not want to sign a new contract, just the hardware that would continue service for more than 425 residents. Spectrum's digital upgrade program means customers have to pick up digital adapter boxes in order to receive service.

Keenan said Good Shepherd was told the service would be "cut off" on March 12, 2018, if they didn't sign a new contract -- nine months before the current contract expired.

On February 27th, he said he received calls from staff at Good Shepherd Fairview that cable was being turned off.

“All of a sudden we were losing cable TV service.”

Keenan said his Spectrum rep, based two-and-a-half hours away in Rochester, apologized and said the company didn’t realize the nursing home was in Binghamton and not part of another service hub.

“I think it’s a shame when people don’t know their customers or where they are even located.”

Keenan contacted Spectrum the next day. On March 1, Spectrum, for the first time, offered an amendment to the contract, providing Good Shepherd Fairview with digital adapters. By March 4, cable was fully restored for some 160 residents.

“Many of the residents are frail, some of them may be bedridden and their TV means everything to them.”

With one problem fixed, Keenan, in an email, suggested the companies get a similar amendment done for Good Shepherd Villages to avoid another shut-off.

But the email response was much different. Keenan was told  “It all needs to go through legal. And they’ll need to start each one from scratch”

Keenan found that confusing because the contract for Good Shepherd Villages is identical to Good Shepherd Fairview's.

“I said that’s fine, it’s been through legal once. It should breeze right through...It’s the same contract.”

By March 12, Keenan never received that amendment.  264 residents at Good Shepherd Villages lost service at midnight that night.

Spectrum trucks appeared at the villages after Keenan asked the state Public Service Commission to intervene.

Now, he is working to get boxes for all the residents' TVs. Spectrum supplied one per house.

Another battle with a company playing by a new set of rules.

“Time Warner Cable was saying ‘we need our customers’. The experience I have had with Spectrum is Spectrum is saying ‘You need me’.