Cable confusion

Wednesday, April 25th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Cable television customers in Tulsa are paying more for service this year, because Cox Communications is offering more channels in the rebuild areas around town. But some Tulsa customers say they're getting the higher bills, but can't get the channels, so they called KOTV Consumer Six.

Consumer Reporter Diane White has the story. The picture is clear, up to a point. Tulsa resident Steve Story is a Cox cable customer, but isn't getting the newest channels most Tulsa customers started getting in January. "This is the February bill - and then the March and April bill." But he is getting the same new charges; his bill went up in March, about $3 a month. He called Cox and learned there was a delay in his neighborhood. "There's this little strip between Garnett and 169, all these houses down through here it just seems like they weren't sure when it was going to get done and no one could tell us when it was going to happen they just kept saying it was coming. And then now we noticed we started getting charged for it and we still aren't getting the channels."

About 1200 customers have the same problem. They live between Garnett and 169 and 61st and 71st Street. This is a problem Cox Communications inherited from TCI. That company originally connected those 1200 customers to its Broken Arrow Distribution Center. But they were part of the Tulsa billing system. That's why Cox billed them for channels that they're not getting yet. When Cox discovered the problem a few months ago, they started working on rebuilding the cable in this neighborhood. But they can't change their billing.

Cox has 125,000 Tulsa customers in its computer system, and General Manager John Bowen says they "can't create a special program for 1200 customers," because there's "no way to manually exclude these people from the billing cycle" Steve Story did get a $10 credit to cover him through May, but he did have to call and ask for it. "At some point I hope we actually get all these extra channels." Cox says that should happen by Mid-May.

Cox Communications says it is close to finishing its rebuild project in Sapulpa and Owasso, and will soon begin working on adding the new channels in Broken Arrow.