Compensation for city cable subscribers OK'd

July 01, 1994

BALTIMORE -- Amid sharp criticism of cable service in Baltimore, the city's Board of Estimates approved a proposal Wednesday that would compensate subscribers by at least $13 each for overcharges from Sept. 1, 1993 through July 14.

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and Council President Mary Pat Clarke raised concerns about service provided by United Artists Cable, including the company's failure to connect 48 schools and the fact that subscribers must go to the headquarters to have their service turned back on.

"I don't want to go into everything, but you guys are really frustrating," Mr. Schmoke told Coles B. Ruff Jr., general manager of United Artists. "In terms of your practices and just dealing with folks in the city, people feel as though they're just totally jerked around by this company."

Stephanie M. Phillips, a Washington attorney hired by the Schmoke administration to review cable rates, said she believes the company's practice of itemizing the city's franchise fee separately on bills increases the costs to subscribers. Ms. Phillips suggested a review to determine if the company owes the city or subscribers money.

Mr. Ruff acknowledged some overcharges. The total amount of money refunded or credited to subscribers could be more than $1.3 million based on approximately 97,000 cable subscribers.

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