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Fees to Pay Bill Over Phone Are Common, Even in Cable

1/09/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

When Verizon Wireless floated — then,
on Dec. 30, rescinded — a $2 fee for making single
payments online or over the phone, some stories
pointed out such fees are already in place at many
telecommunications providers, including cable companies.

Often the fee is a lot higher, at least for over-the-phone
payments.

Website DSL Reports noted that Comcast, at least in
some markets, has charged a fee to customers who pay
their bills in person, when a company representative
handles the transaction (as opposed to dropping a check
in a payment box).

Comcast spokeswoman Jenni
Moyer said some markets might
charge a fee for in-person payments,
but that is “not across the board, to
the best of my knowledge.”

Moyer also said Comcast, the top
MSO, had no plan to charge a fee
for one-time, online bill payments.
Nor does No. 2 Time Warner Cable,
spokesman Alex Dudley said.

Fees for paying over the phone,
though, are standard practice for
some MSOs, including Comcast and
TWC.

A Boston Globe roundup on Jan.
5 noted that triple-play provider
RCN charges “$4.50 to use its automated
phone system, and $6.95
to make a payment through a customer service representative
on the phone.”

Comcast charges $5.99, the Globe noted (and Comcast
confi rmed), and DirecTV and Dish each charge $5 for
payments over the phone.

Time Warner Cable, in at least some markets, charges
$4.99 to pay over the phone — or even to process a payper-
view event order a customer calls in.

The TWC fees prompted a rebuke from Bunnie
Riedel, executive director of American Community
Television, a not-for-profit group that supports
public-access channels.

Riedel reviewed TWC policies in
California, Texas, North Carolina and
Ohio, and found $4.99 fees for “Agent
Assisted Payment” or “Agent Assisted
PPV.” That’s too much, she said, and
might even be more than the cost of a
PPV movie.

“If you think about who’s calling to
pay over the phone, it’s typically people
who are late or on the verge of being
late,” Riedel told The Wire. “If they
are late, they are assessed a late fee, but
to pile on an additional charge for the
privilege of giving an agent your credit
card information over the phone is ridiculous.”

Moyer and Dudley said their companies
offer an automated option to pay
via credit card over the phone for free.

Traver Trades Cable
To Build Next-Gen
Internet Down Under

Gary Traver, former head of Comcast Media Center in
Denver, is now an Aussie media maven.

Traver recently relocated to Melbourne to take a
consulting job
for Telstra, the
country’s largest
telco. He’s
helping Telstra
build its media
business as it
embarks on a
project with the
Australian government
dubbed
the National
Broadband
Network, which
aims to deliver
fi ber-to-thehome
Internet
access to 93%
of the population
by 2021.

“I call it Australia’s
response to network neutrality,” Traver wrote in
an email to The Wire.

Why Down Under? “I have always wanted to take an
assignment in another country,” said Traver, who left
CMC in 2010 after 10 years. He’s had some opportunities
over the years, “but the timing has never been right
until recently.”

The weather is a bit barmy, Traver allowed: Summer
has started in Australia, and temperatures can swing
between the 50s and 100 degrees (Farenheit).

“Even though Melbourne is at the same latitude as Denver,
it has some tropical vegetation,” said Traver, who’s
an avid cyclist. He’s digging the city’s culture and diversity
and added that it has “unbelievable transportation.”

“Our kids are out of the house, and this is a great
time to experience and explore another part of the world
before grandkids come,” he said. G’day, indeed!

Moving On, and Up:
Pac-12 Inks Marquez,
Cox Taps New GMs

The coming of 2012 saw upward and outward moves by
several people in cable, including the following:

Arturo (Art) Marquez was named top affiliate
marketing executive at the startup Pac-12 Networks
sports programmer, which cited Marquez’s experience
with launches of the NFL and MLB Networks. His title
is senior vice president of affiliate sales and marketing.
He moves from MLB Network, where he was SVP
of distribution, affiliate sales and marketing. Pac-12
has partnered with Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox
Communications and Bright House Networks in the
upcoming August launch of a national network and six
regional sports networks. Marquez only has to sign up
the satellite-TV and telco-TV operators and the rest of
cable.

Marilyn Burrows,
the Cox SVP
and general manager
in Las Vegas,
was promoted to
SVP and GM of
the company’s
Central Region (Arkansas,
Kansas
and Nebraska),
filling the vacancy
created when
Janet Barnard became
chief operating
officer at Cox Enterprises’ Manheim auto-auctions
unit (as noted in the Nov. 21 Wire). Duffy Leone, operations
SVP for Cox’s California systems, becomes the
new SVP and GM in Las Vegas.

Jeff Pomeroy, the longtime Turner Sports PR ace,
has set up shop as president of JDP Communications
in Atlanta. Crucially, he already has clients, including
the owners and producers of the U.S. Army All-American
Bowl and Kenny Smith Entertainment Group. Smith,
the former National Basketball Association star, is an
analyst on TNT. In other PR shop talk, Jim Boyle, the
former longtime Discovery Channel communicator, has
co-founded Boyle Public Affairs in the Washington, D.C.,
area, bringing on former Discovery PR folks Krista Van
Lewen
and Karen Baratz among his associates.

OPEN ‘HOUSE’ ON SHOWTIME

Don Cheadle, wearing a lot more clothes than in the opening
scene of his new Showtime series, House of Lies, and
co-star Kristen Bell posed for paparazzi at last Wednesday’s
premiere party and screening at the AT&T Center in
Los Angeles. The raucous comedy about rampaging management
consultants debuted last Sunday (Jan. 8).

September