Cox bills Gilbert man for six years of service

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By Jim Carr By Jim Carr

GILBERT, Ariz. -- Paul Cillis and his wife like to enjoy television every once in awhile.

"We like a lot of action movies, basically,” Cillis said. “That's what we're in to."

They get their programming from a satellite provider and have been happy with the service for several years.

But Cillis said he just discovered that he's also been paying Cox Communications for cable TV, a service he never ordered and certainly did not want.

"To me, it's outright fraud,” he said.

Here's the problem: Back in 2006, Cillis and his wife ordered Internet service from Cox. He said it's the only thing they wanted from Cox and nothing else.

But after looking over his Cox bill recently, he realized that he's not only been paying for Internet service, but also basic cable TV.

In fact, Cillis said he's been paying around $25 a month for the past six years, a service he never received because his house is not even wired for Cox Cable. But, Cillis said he's apparently been paying for cable anyway.

"That's defrauding the consumer if they can just add services to a bill,” a frustrated Cillis said. “And if the consumer doesn't realize the service is added and just pays the bill, they just keep the money."

Over the past six years, Cillis estimates he's paid around $1,500 extra for the service, so he asked Cox to refund him the money.

He said Cox acknowledges they never provided him with Cable TV, but said reimbursing him for one year is all they would do.

"I’ve been paying for six years and you want to reimburse me for a year?” he exclaimed.

3 On Your Side asked Cox to look into the matter. They maintain that Cillis and his wife signed up for some kind of Internet and cable promotional package, so that's how they billed it.

A spokesperson also sent me a company policy that says, "Payment of your Cox bill confirms your subscription to services..." which means just because Cillis paid his bill month after month, he was confirming he had cable, even though he did not.

Cox says they will still extend their offer of reimbursing him for one year, which amounts to $206.

Cillis said he deserves all six years -- not just one year -- and he plans on suing to get his money.

"It's pretty cut and dry to me,” he said. “I paid for something I wasn't set up to receive, nor did I ask for it."

This is a good reminder to always review your bills thoroughly before you pay them.

Cillis said he is still pretty upset over the ordeal.

A complete unedited version of the letter from Cox Communications is below.

Hi Gary,

We looked into the Cillis' account and have listed a chronological account of their services. 

Important facts to note in your coverage:

-The Cillis' signed up for a promotional package that included video services, in order to get a special price on their Internet.
-We/Cox communicated with them several times, near the end of the promotional pricing of the package they signed up for.  Cox’s correspondence was very clear that the promotional pricing would be coming to a close. 
-Prior to your inquiry, Cox provided $206.79 in credits in a good faith gesture because we appreciate their business.

For more detailed information…here is some additional info.

1.     Customer connected service January 31, 2006.   At that time, the  Cox Internet service was $49.99 per month.  We had a video promotion at that time which gave the Internet service for $39.99 per month, if the customer signed up for Basic Cable. This additional savings was offered/accepted by the customer.

2.    Near the end of the Internet/Video promotion, two letters were mailed to every signed customer, advising that the campaign would soon be over.  The letter urged the subscribers to call our Care Center for changes in service questions, as they would start incurring basic cable charges to their account on the July 2008 bill. Subscribers were also sent emails advising them of the upcoming change.

3.    While some of the customers signed up on this particular promotion did not use our cable service in lieu of their satellite or DISH service, the $10.00 per month savings per month was substantial enough to prove many subscriptions to this package.

4.    Cox addresses every billing dispute on an individual basis; and we follow the company guidelines in place for account credit.    Our monthly bill states that “Payment of your Cox bill confirms your subscription to services and possession of the Cox equipment listed on your bill.”  This statement also says under “Customer Information” that you must contact us no later than 60 days from the bill’s due date with disputes.  The customer did not contact us to discuss or dispute their billing for over five years.

5.    Our Billing Department applied $75.00 credit to the account; equivalent to three months of  disputed service.  As an extension of this courtesy, an additional nine months of credit, $ 206.79; was offered to the customer, but they declined, and requested a six year credit for the disputed service.   

6.    The Cillis’s received a Cox statement in the mail every 30 days, and paid it.  We are willing to extend the courtesy credit of $206.79, offered by our Customer Care Department.

Hope this helps clarify their situation for you.
Take care,

Cox Communications Arizona

Andrea Katsenes
Director of Media & Public Relations