Cable Customer Rights and Protection

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Why does Seattle have the Cable Customer Bill of Rights?

Cable Customer Bill of Rights. In early 1999, the Seattle City Council held numerous public hearings and received many comments about cable services. You told us that you wanted better service - and we listened. The City's Office of Cable Communications worked with City Council to develop your Cable Customer Bill of Rights to ensure that cable customers in Seattle would get competent, responsive service from the cable companies. The Bill of Rights also established procedures and remedies if you haven't gotten competent, responsive service. The Bill of Rights was most recently updated in April 2015.

Seattle is currently one of a very few cities that has a Bill of Rights for its citizens who subscribe to television cable services and other services provided over cable company infrastructure.  We believe that the Bill will help us -- you, the cable companies, and the City of Seattle -- work together for excellent customer satisfaction.

Some aspects of cable and internet services are not under City regulatory authority, such as pricing, channel content, and network speed.  Service issues related to these aspects can be sent to the Federal Communications Commission at the FCC Consumer Help Center.

What does the Cable Customer Bill of Rights Do?

Our primary goal is to help you get the best service possible! To achieve this, the Bill of Rights establishes levels and quality of service to ensure your satisfaction. Specific areas covered in the Bill are Courtesy, Accessibility, Responsiveness, Services for Customers with Disabilities, Customer Information, Customer Privacy, Safety, Satisfaction Guarantee, a Complaint Procedure and Credits to Customers when their rights under the Bill are violated.

The Bill calls for employees of the cable companies to "be courteous, knowledgeable and helpful" and "provide effective and satisfactory service in all contacts with Customers."

The Bill of Rights requires cable companies to meet standards for Accessibility. These include having walk-in service centers open weekdays until 7:00 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., as well as local or toll free telephone access lines available during normal business hours for service or repair requests or to answer questions about your bill. The Accessibility provisions also require that your phone calls are answered promptly and that you do not get a busy signal. Last, the Accessibility provisions require the cable companies to have dispatchers and technicians on call 24 hours a day, every day, for emergency purposes.

Responsiveness is also addressed in the Cable Customer Bill of Rights. The Bill requires standard installations for tv service to be completed within seven days of your request and within any available four-hour block of time. In the event of system outages, Responsiveness regulations require correction within 2 to 24 hours, depending on the extent of the outage and its source. Clear reception requirements are spelled out, as are regulations for treatment of your property, including landscaping. Responsiveness provisions also discuss billing procedures, including credits, refunds, and deposits as well as what customer service representatives can do for you when you call with a complaint.

Services for Customers with Disabilities are required under the Cable Customer Bill of Rights. Your cable company provides these services at no charge. Under provisions of Customer Privacy, your cable company is prohibited from monitoring what programs you watch without your prior written consent. They are also prohibited from selling your name or information about you to anyone else, without your prior written consent.

The Cable Customer Bill of Rights also specifies that when the cable company installs your service, they must provide you with various types of information, including a complete version of the Cable Customer Bill of Rights; products and services offered and their prices; installation and service maintenance policies; and policies about your privacy. Your cable company is also required to provide information on programs carried, channels and any changes to programming or channel positions.

Safety provisions in the Bill of Rights require that cable installation and equipment meet laws guaranteeing your safety and that of your property. In the event that a potential unsafe condition is reported to your cable company, they must respond immediately to correct the unsafe condition.

The Cable Customer Bill of Rights also values Customer Satisfaction, requiring your cable company to guarantee your satisfaction for new or additional cable service.

How Do I Get the Cable Company to Help Me?

Another major component of the Cable Customer Bill of Rights is procedures for your cable company's handling of your calls. In addition to courteous service, under the Bill of Rights you are also entitled to a rapid response (all questions or complaints must be answered within 15 days). If you do not agree with the response, or do not hear from your cable company within 15 days, please get in touch with us, your City of Seattle Office of Cable Communications. You can call our Cable Hotline at (206) 684-8498  or submit the cable help request form. To help ensure that your cable company can provide good service, please follow the Tips for Getting Good Service listed below.

  1. If you have a question or complaint, always contact your cable company first.
  2. While we know you may be frustrated, if you are courteous with the customer service representative, they will be courteous to you.
  3. Always get the name of the person who handles your call.
  4. Make sure you give the customer service representative the name of the person on your bill - this will help them figure out who you are more easily. Please be aware, however, that your cable company is prohibited by Federal law from giving out account information to anyone but the account holder. It would be helpful then to have the account holder get in touch with your cable company, or to have more than one person listed on the account.
  5. If you have a question or complaint, get in touch with your cable company as soon as possible.
  6. If you are sending your complaint by mail, do not send it with your bill. Make sure you send it to the address listed at the top of the bill. Please do not sent it to the City. If you do send it to us, we will forward it, but it takes time and may end up putting your account into arrears.
  7. Be very specific about what it is you are asking about. If you have more than one question or complaint, it would be helpful to write them down so you can remember all your points when you talk to the cable company. It is also helpful if you can tell your cable company specific dates, times and duration when you may have had interrupted service, no show appointments, poor reception, etc.
  8. Be specific about what it is you want the cable company to do. If you need service, ask for it. If you deserve a credit, tell them.
  9. If you did not receive an answer to your question or complaint from the person who takes your call, ask to speak with a supervisor.
  10. If you are still not satisfied, and if you are a Seattle resident, please get in touch with us with the cable help request form or through the Cableline at (206) 684-8498.

Information Technology

Rob Lloyd, Interim Chief Technology Officer
Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 2700, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 94709, Seattle, WA, 98124-4709
Phone: (206) 684-0600
Phone Alt: Cable TV & Internet Discount Information: (206) 684-8498

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