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Time Warner rate hikes not sitting well with customers

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In a letter to customers last week, Time Warner Cable announced rate hikes of up to $9 a month, attributing some of the increase to higher sports programming costs and local broadcast fees. Residents and elected officials are reacting negatively to the news.

Time Warner also attributes increased costs to improvements to the network.

Buffalo Common Council Member Richard Fontana says any time there is an increase, the council hears from residents.

“People are sick and tired of paying for the big NFL contracts, sick and tired of paying for all the charge-backs from Hollywood. Residents can’t afford to have these increases on their bills,” said Fontana, the Lovejoy District representative.

Fontana says Time Warner enjoys a high saturation rate in the city because for many low-income residents, cable is a better investment than going out to pay for entertainment like movies and shows. But with continuing rate increases, Fontana says some people are choosing to cut service altogether or change to another provider.

That’s the choice Nafeesah Woods made. She is one city resident who says she is tired of being a Time Warner customer.

“I no longer want to be and I’m not going to be. Dish Network will be here tomorrow. They’re on the way. I already set it up. Time Warner got their box back and everything,” Woods told WBFO.

Woods says she felt like she was being robbed, paying $196 a month for a home service bundle through Time Warner. She says the same bundle she’s getting from Dish will cost only $92 a month.

Michelle James of the Tonawanda says rather than go through the hassle of changing providers or negotiating for better rates, she will likely downsize her service.

“I’m thinking about getting basic cable," said James.

Fontana urges residents who are unhappy with the rate hikes to contact the Public Service Commission and voice their opposition. He says people should try to lock in special promotional rates and negotiate their fees with Time Warner.

Avery began his broadcasting career as a disc jockey for WRUB, the University at Buffalo’s student-run radio station.