How a cable bill of $90.34 will cost me $212,602

By Waqas Makhdum

I just learned about a very recent collection on my credit report which will raise my previously approved rate of 4.6% to 5.7%+ for a 30-year mortgage. The $90.34 cable bill appeared a few days ago and I must say that the timing is comical. My credit rating has dropped from 710 to 676 and I can end up with an additional $212,602 in interest over 30 years (assuming no refinance & rates staying same).

The collections agency “Credit Management, LP” said this was sent by Spectrum. Spectrum is the new brand of Time Warner. Let me sum up hours of phone conversations with Spectrum: I have been paying Time Warner (now Spectrum) for 13+ years through auto-pay and when I moved from San Diego, they offered to transfer my service …and they did turn on service at the new place. Except that Spectrum actually cancels your first account with the associated auto-pay before the last bill and creates a net new account for the new address due to their separate systems. For some unknown reason, they don’t charge your last balance through auto-pay. So in 60 days, my closed account was sent for collection. Spectrum or collections agency did not really attempt to contact me because the charge was so small.

For what it’s worth, I have paid the $90.34 balance but this will show as “settled” and not fix my credit. Spectrum’s billing folks can’t help take this off my history.

This situation leads me to wonder why Spectrum makes it difficult for customers to make last payments? Why can’t they use the same auto-payment account for the balance? Why don’t they transfer my one account and not make multiple accounts which their customers are likely to lose track of? And I know I’m not the only one to miss this detail about their processes and system limitations, so why can’t cable companies help people recover from snafus over such small amounts by expunging them off the credit reports?

We all love to hate cable companies, but they can do small efforts to make huge differences in how they impact their customers’ lives. That being said, Charter Communication/Spectrum’s value promise below — which is missing customer focus or empathy — doesn’t give much hope.

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