Suit against TCI Communications over late fees now a class action

August 08, 1996|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

A Baltimore City Circuit Court judge yesterday certified as a class action a lawsuit against the city's cable television franchise that contends that the company's late-payment fees are a ruse to charge more for cable than regulations allow.

Three plaintiffs represented by Washington attorney Philip S. Friedman said TCI Communications of Baltimore charges a $5 late fee if payment is not received within about 10 days of billing. Now that Circuit Judge Gary I. Strausberg has certified the lawsuit as a class action, all subscribers who have paid a late fee since November 1991 are plaintiffs in the suit.

The suit was originally filed against United Artists Cable, but the company changed its name to TCI in October. It is not scheduled to come to trial until next year.

Friedman said the cable company takes in $1.2 million a year in late fees from 30 percent of its subscribers. The lawsuit claims the late-payment fee bears no relation to the expense the company incurs when its customers do not pay on time.

A similar lawsuit also filed by Friedman against District Cablevision in Washington is scheduled for trial Sept. 30.

Pub Date: 8/08/96

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