ATLANTA–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Today EarthLink, a leading provider of internet and online services, filed a complaint in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York against Charter Communications Operating, LLC (Charter), which operates under the trade name Spectrum, for engaging in a scheme to mislead EarthLink service subscribers to switch internet providers. EarthLink has brought forward this action to seek damages sustained as a result of Charter’s wrongdoing.
In violation of its legal and contractual duties, Charter has falsely informed EarthLink customers, among other things, that (a) EarthLink is “out of business”; (b) Charter has “taken over” EarthLink; and (c) EarthLink internet service “wasn’t available” in markets where it was. These false statements have reduced connectivity options for customers when they need it most, damaged EarthLink’s reputation and brand, and directly resulted in lost customers.
As an Internet Service Provider (ISP), EarthLink offers high-speed internet, premium email, web hosting, and privacy and data security products to consumers across the United States. EarthLink has key partner relationships with several of the nation’s largest providers, enabling the Company to offer connectivity services to millions of households nationwide. As a result of the merger between AOL and Time Warner in 2000, Earthlink entered into a High-Speed Service Agreement with Time Warner that allowed Earthlink to sell its branded high-speed data service over Time Warner’s (now Charter’s) cable network. To date, EarthLink has paid Charter and its predecessor, Time Warner, several hundred million dollars (and more than $150 million in the last five years alone) in order to use Charter’s cable network and to compensate Charter for handling billing and service issues.
“Charter is engaged in a campaign of deception with the purpose of misleading consumers about their internet options. Charter has spread false rumors about the financial health of EarthLink in order to grow its customer base and eliminate competition, ultimately enabling Charter to increase prices in the future. Charter’s efforts have reduced service accessibility and increased consumer costs during the midst of a global pandemic, when the budgets of middle-class families are already being stretched to their limits. Access to affordable, reliable and high-speed internet is an economic lifeline for millions of Americans who are working or learning from home and are unable to access traditional office spaces or classrooms,” said Damien Marshall, partner at King & Spalding and counsel to EarthLink.
The complaint cites statements from several EarthLink customers whose costs have been increased and access to affordable, reliable, and high-speed internet has been reduced as a result of Charter’s actions. A number of false statements by Charter customer service representatives were made to EarthLink customers including:
- “Spectrum made an unauthorized charge to my EarthLink Internet account which could not be reversed by EarthLink. Consequently, I had to switch to Spectrum * * Wish that EarthLink had internet service in my area independent of Spectrum.”
- “I was switched by spectrum . . . they told me earthlink wasn’t in business anymore * * I would really like to find a fast internet. . haven’t so far.”
- “I was told by Spectrum that I could not keep EarthLink Internet because I dropped my TV subscription with Spectrum. I still don’t understand why and wish I was still with EarthLink. * * Maybe you can find out why they made me leave EarthLink and forced me to pay more for Spectrum internet?”
- “Our CATV system stopped carrying EarthLink internet unless we paid double for it.”
EarthLink offers secure, fast, and affordable internet access with coverage available to more households and small businesses in the U.S. than any other Internet Service Provider. EarthLink also provides premium email and privacy and security products for Consumers, while delivering digital marketing solutions and website design for Small Businesses. Founded in 1994 and headquartered in Atlanta, GA, EarthLink is now redefining the next revolution in telecom with a customer-centric, asset-light model focused on partnerships and an enhanced customer experience that includes no data caps, no throttling, and no mandatory bundles. To learn more, visit earthlink.net.