Article 43


Sunday, January 12, 2020

Screwed By Charter

image cable company monopoly

I got a home security system managed by (Charter) the local cable company.

For the service I had to buy their ZIGBEE sensors up front, and pay a monthly fee for monitoring.

The system worked well for years.

What I’m just learning now - is the sensors are firmware locked to Charter’s system, and can’t be reused by any other monitoring company.

Charter is GETTING OUT OF THE HOME SECURITY BUSINESS leaving me with over a thousand dollars of perfectly good sensors that will soon be worthless and thrown in the garbage.


Spectrum Kills Home Security Business, Refuses Refunds for Owners of Now-Worthless Equipment

By Dell Cameron
January 9, 2020

Spectrum customers who are also users of the company’s home security service are about a month away from being left with a pile of useless equipment that in many cases cost them hundreds of dollars.

On February 5, Spectrum will NO LONGER SUPPORT customers who’ve purchased its Spectrum Home Security equipment. None of the devices the cameras, motion sensors, smart thermostats, and in-home touchscreens - can be paired with other existing services. In a few weeks, itll all be worthless junk.

While some of the devices may continue to function on their own, customers will soon no longer be able to access them using their mobile devices, which is sort of the whole point of owning a smart device.

On Friday, California’s KSBY News INTERVIEWED one Spectrum customer who said that he’d spent around $900 installing cameras and sensors in and around his Cheviot Hills home. That the equipment is soon-to-be worthless isn’t even the worst part. Spectrum is also running off with his money.

The customer reportedly contacted the company about converting the cost of his investment into credit toward his phone or cable bill. The company declined, he said.

Spectrum is owned by Charter Communications, one of the largest telecommunications companies in the U.S. It acquired the home security business in 2016 during its merger with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.

Charter discontinued the marketing of the home security products shortly after the merger, indicating its plan to exit the business has been in the works for some time. Nevertheless, Spectrum customers were only notified that the service would be ended last month.

A Charter official told Gizmodo on Friday that the company was aiming for a smooth “transition” and claimed only a small percentage of customers would be affected.

Spectrum is hoping to smooth things over with exclusive “offers” from other home security companies, including Ring, which is owned by Amazon. The Ring deal includes a free alarm security kit, but will require Spectrum customers to purchase a year of professional monitoring at a cost of $340.

Rings kit INCLUDES an alarm base station, keypad, three contact sensors, one motion sensor, and one range extender, plus installation at no additional charge. The deal does not include security cameras, but customers will receive 25 percent off any Ring camera or doorbell over $100.

Spectrum is offering a similar deal through Abobe at a cost of $179 per year. The deal INCLUDES one gateway, three mini-door or windowsensors, one motion sensor, a key fob, a keypad, a streaming camera, and a “Secured by Abode” sticker.

The offers notwithstanding, many Spectrum Home Security users will soon find themselves out hundreds of dollars. Spectrum apparently believes it can afford to aggravate these customers, some if not most of whom will have no choice but to continue paying Spectrum for internet service.

Adding insult to injury, Charter and other major internet service providers have enjoyed a massive windfall under the Trump administration thanks to the sweeping 2017 tax breaks passed by the 115th Congress, not to mention the deregulatory efforts of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under Chairman Ajit Pai.

Since 2017, the FCC has worked to roll back numerous consumer protections implemented under the former administration, arguing that a “light-touch” regulatory regime will spur new investments, jobs, and inevitably lower costs for consumers. Those promises, however, have largely failed to materialize.

AT&T, one of the country’s largest ISPs, enjoyed a round of positive press for doling out $1,000 bonuses to employees after receiving a $3 billion tax break, is now engaged in sweeping layoffs and is reportedly forcing American workers to train their own foreign replacements.

The FCC did not respond to a request for comment.


I called the folks at Charter and asked them to unlock the sensors.

The representative may have flat out lied to me.  He said they are reusable by any zigbee aware system, and all I need to do is pop out the battery or wait until service is turned off.  I called a week later and told the same thing by a different rep.

I also called at least a dozen alarm companies, some local and and few of the big companies like ADT to take over monitoring.

They all say the sensors are unusable by anyone but Charter, and I need to buy a whole new system.

Next I instant messaged the Charter folks over at Twitter.

First they dismissed the issue not unlike the phone reps did, then reminded me how much they love their customers:

Me -> @Ask_Spectrum
I understand you guys are getting out of the home security business.  I called a bunch of alarm companies including the big guys like adt and brinks to take over monitoring. They all say they can’t because the sensors are locked to your system.  The folks at STOP THE CAP say the same thing.

I called your company and the rep tells me that’s not correct, that any company can reuse them.  I have over a thousand dollars invested in these sensors. 

Whose telling the truth here?

Ask Spectrum
Thank you for contacting us today. 
As far as another company accepting our equipment, we have no control over that. 
The agent misspoke as it is up to the third party companies whether or not they will utilize our equipment or not. ^JK

The question is are the sensors vendor locked, yes or no?

Ask Spectrum
We don’t have that information. 
It is the choice of the vendor if they want to use them or not. ^JK

It’s all over the internet that Charter is discontinuing home security and leaving customers with bricked sensors because they’re firmware locked to your system so they can’t be reused. 
I called Charter asking to unlock them.  That didn’t work. 
So I’m asking you to please unlock them.

Ask Spectrum
Unfortunately, you would need new equipment.
We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience. -AZ

What’s your company’s reason for refusing to unlock them for reuse?

Ask Spectrum
Due to security reasons, our devices are non transferrable to other companies.
This previously helped us keep our service as secure as possible. -AZ

Will you please buy them back?

Ask Spectrum
We will not be buying back any purchased equipment.
We apologize for this inconvenience. -AZ

How about we split the bill 50/50 for the price paid?
Your half can be an account credit?

Ask Spectrum
We are not providing credit for any purchased equipment. -AZ

This is another expression of capitalism at its worst.

Only in America can companies be so brazen, arrogant and get away with stuff like this.

A Slashdot poster POINTS OUT:

No idea. I’ve not read their contracts. But it’s a complicated case. Not all things need to be written in a contract. For example if a contract is completely one sided it can be ruled invalid even if both parties sign. Such would be the case if I bought something with the expectation to have it for a reasonable amount of time, only to have it killed within a few months and not get my money back.

Many countries don’t just rely on contracts, but rather codify this in law. E.g. the Sales of Goods Act in Australia would require something to be fit for purpose or require redress. The classic case that this law is based on was someone (don’t ask me to remember the exact details, I did law 20 years ago) who bought carpet for their office only to have it wear through after 6 months of rolling on it with chairs. They were entitled to get the entire carpet replaced. Or Microsoft’s Xbox365 with it’s red ring. There’s a reason they were forced to replace these units in Australia regardless of if they were out of warranty or not as the expectation for fit for purpose was that a console lasts until the following model is released.

In Europe not only do devices come with 2 year warranty but they need to remain functional, and spare parts available from 2 years from purchase or the customer can get a full refund.

These kinds of consumer protection laws are missing in America, but I’m wondering what a good lawyer could argue.

What other buyer beware lessons are learned here?

Charter also has a mobile phone service.  You can BUY AN IPHONE FROM THEM, and pay monthly for service.

No thanks.  I’m AFRAID they can just as easily pull the same stunt with the phone so it can’t be used by another carrier, if/when they decide to pull out of THAT BUSINESS

Fool me one shame on me.
Fool me twice shame on you.

And - about the cloud:

Slashdot AGAIN:

There’s a good side to this. We need several high profile stories like this. Best buy killed their cloud service for insignia products last fall and now this.

Maybe a few more repeats and enough people getting burned this way and people will start to understand how stupid it is to buy hardware that relies on somebody’s cloud service that can be shut down at any time.

To add insult to injury - after they’re done screwing customers with this move, THEY MAY:

Dubbed “Spectrum Home Security powered by Ring,” the company would charge a $190 up-front cost for equipment, feature DIY installation and carry a $10 per month monitoring solution fee


it remains active in other aspects of the smart home. Last November, Charter announced it had adopted OpenSync, an open source framework originating with Plume, that is being used to power a new in-home WiFi management service initially introduced in Austin, Texas. Charter has also teamed with (and invested in) Cujo AI on products that will center on in-home network monitoring and security services

I’m sure they realize that no way, no how - will I sign up for their replacement service. 

Or an iPhone.

Or whatever else they decide to market.

What really burns me up after this is Charter’s a monopoly for high speed internet service in my town, so even though I’m dying to take that business elsewhere - I can’t.


Government Slaves Article

Channel 7 Syracuse Video

Help me out and write the Charter big shots

Posted by Elvis on 01/12/20 •
Section Dying America
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