Cutting your cable bill can be tougher than it looks

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Kathy Farmer tried cutting costs by cutting channels from her Time Warner Cable package, but when she took a close look at her new leaner bill, she was shocked to find new charges she had never seen before.

“I had all these channels that went up into the hundreds. I never watched any of them,” said the South Buffalo grandmother, so she downsized her channel lineup to about 60, and cancelled her digital home phone’s free long distance.

All told, Farmer just about cut her bill in half, then she took a second look at her cable bills, and found a new charge, “Long Distance Intra state” that was showing up each month, itemized in the section for credits and one time charges, “and I couldn’t find out what the charges were, or what the credit was.”

Eventually, after many phone calls to Time Warner Cable–now Charter Communications–Kathy was told she gets charged for every phone call she makes outside of her local “824” exchange–the first three digits in her phone number—no matter where she calls.

The grandmom was incensed, “If I call the girl across the street, or my neighbor, my daughter, my granddaughters across the street, I pay a charge on every phone call because their exchange is not the same as mine.”

Kathy figures she has paid about $300 for the new intra state charges, which she said were not on her previous bills when she had the more lucrative account with Time Warner Cable, “I downsized and I don’t have long distance,” which nearly defeats the purpose of downsizing in the first place.

Farmer is also wondering what is the point of having cable, if she can get a better deal for TV and phone service somewhere else? After all, she says, who pays for local calls anymore?

“I might as well have a payphone in my house because unless your exchange is 824, I pay for it.”

A Charter Communications representative contacted Farmer, and as of this week, she is no longer being charged for local phone calls. If Kathy follows up, she might get credit for her previous local calls.

Farmer is still negotiating. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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