Spectrum Kills Home Security Business, Refuses Refunds for Owners of Now-Worthless Equipment

Spectrum’s customer service number, in case you need it for some reason.
Photo: Getty

Spectrum customers who are also users of the company’s home security service are about a month away from being left with a pile of useless equipment that in many cases cost them hundreds of dollars.

On February 5, Spectrum will no longer support customers who’ve purchased its Spectrum Home Security equipment. None of the devices—the cameras, motion sensors, smart thermostats, and in-home touchscreens—can be paired with other existing services. In a few weeks, it’ll all be worthless junk.

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While some of the devices may continue to function on their own, customers will soon no longer be able to access them using their mobile devices, which is sort of the whole point of owning a smart device.

On Friday, California’s KSBY News interviewed one Spectrum customer who said that he’d spent around $900 installing cameras and sensors in and around his Cheviot Hills home. That the equipment is soon-to-be worthless isn’t even the worst part. Spectrum is also running off with his money.

The customer reportedly contacted the company about converting the cost of his investment into credit toward his phone or cable bill. The company declined, he said.

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Spectrum is owned by Charter Communications, one of the largest telecommunications companies in the U.S. It acquired the home security business in 2016 during its merger with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.

Charter discontinued the marketing of the home security products shortly after the merger, indicating its plan to exit the business has been in the works for some time. Nevertheless, Spectrum customers were only notified that the service would be ended last month.

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A Charter official told Gizmodo on Friday that the company was aiming for a “smooth transition” and claimed only a small percentage of customers would be affected.

Spectrum is hoping to smooth things over with “exclusive offers” from other home security companies, including Ring, which is owned by Amazon. The Ring deal includes a free alarm security kit, but will require Spectrum customers to purchase a year of professional monitoring at a cost of $340.

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Ring’s kit includes an alarm base station, keypad, three contact sensors, one motion sensor, and one range extender, plus installation at no additional charge. The deal does not include security cameras, but customers will receive 25 percent off any Ring camera or doorbell over $100.

Spectrum is offering a similar deal through Abobe at a cost of $179 per year. The deal includes one gateway, three mini-door or window sensors, one motion sensor, a key fob, a keypad, a streaming camera, and a “Secured by Abode” sticker.

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The offers notwithstanding, many Spectrum Home Security users will soon find themselves out hundreds of dollars. Spectrum apparently believes it can afford to aggravate these customers, some if not most of whom will have no choice but to continue paying Spectrum for internet service.

Adding insult to injury, Charter and other major internet service providers have enjoyed a massive windfall under the Trump administration thanks to the sweeping 2017 tax breaks passed by the 115th Congress, not to mention the deregulatory efforts of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under Chairman Ajit Pai.

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Since 2017, the FCC has worked to roll back numerous consumer protections implemented under the former administration, arguing that a “light-touch” regulatory regime will spur new investments, jobs, and inevitably lower costs for consumers. Those promises, however, have largely failed to materialize.

AT&T, one of the country’s largest ISPs, enjoyed a round of positive press for doling out $1,000 bonuses to employees after receiving a $3 billion tax break, is now engaged in sweeping layoffs and is reportedly forcing American workers to train their own foreign replacements.

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The FCC did not respond to a request for comment.

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Dell Cameron

Privacy, security, tech policy | Got a tip? Email: dell@gizmodo.com | Send me encrypted texts using Signal: (202)556-0846

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