Cable bills are already stacked with unnecessary fees for things as silly as activation, deactivation, or rentals. Consumers are regularly gouged for things like regional sports, too. But right now, there aren’t any sports to watch, and cable customers are still being charged for it—something New York Attorney General Letitia James has correctly characterized as “grossly unfair.”
This week, James sent letters to seven major cable and satellite providers—including Altice, AT&T, Charter, Comcast, DISH, RCN, and Verizon—asking them to reduce or entirely waive the live sports-related fees they’re continuing to incur despite the clear lack of any sporting events during the coronavirus pandemic. This is especially callous given that so many New Yorkers are facing financial difficulty or are out of work as a result of the city’s lockdown.
“At a time when so many New Yorkers have lost their jobs and are struggling, it is grossly unfair that cable and satellite television providers would continue to charge fees for services they are not even providing,” James said in a statement. “These companies must step up and immediately propose plans to cut charges and provide much needed financial relief. This crisis has brought new economic anxiety for all New Yorkers, and I will continue to protect the wallets of working people at every turn.”
The reality of the situation is, in a word, bullshit. No one should be paying for a service they’re not getting in the first place, but the price-gouging by cable companies is already out of control. An investigation by Consumer Reports last year found that company-imposed fees—which can again, include anything from regional coverage and sports fees to rentals for hardware—can tally up to roughly a 24 percent increase over the price advertised to consumers. Cable companies are making a killing of about $450 per customer per year in these fees, the investigation found, and those insane fees are only going up.
Right now, with a recession underway and so many people struggling to make ends meet, Big Cable’s excessive greed is the last thing that consumers should be dealing with right now. If the executive snakes running these companies had any kind of conscience, they’d waive not only sports fees but those that aren’t directly linked to providing consumers with the service they need.
Everyone’s just trying to get by right now. They shouldn’t have to be dealing with this shit on top of it all.