March 15, 2012 9:59am PT by Eriq Gardner
Time Warner Cable Customers Press Lawsuit Over Missing Linsanity
It's tough being a New York Knicks fan. Headed into the team's Feb. 4 match-up with the New Jersey Nets, the Knicks had a 8-15 record when an unheralded point guard from Harvard named Jeremy Lin stepped off the bench and scored 25 points. The team reeled off seven straight wins to get to 15-15, but many Knicks fans couldn't see it because Time Warner and MSG were locked in a standoff over carriage fees. The dispute was settled on Feb. 17, bringing MSG back to television in much of the NY region.
But some fans haven't forgiven Time Warner Cable for robbing them of the opportunity to see 49 days of Linsanity.
In an amended class action, a group of plaintiffs demand that the cable distributor reimburse them for more than $5 million in service fees and charges for withholding programming.
The named plaintiff in this lawsuit is Harold Hoffman, who says he was induced on the phone by a TWC representative to sign up in 2008 for service with the promise he would receive programming on the MSG and MSG+ networks.
Hoffman says he had little choice if he wanted to see televised games featuring the Knicks, Rangers, Islanders and Devils. No other cable service was available for his Englewood, New Jersey residence, and because he didn't own his property, he wasn't empowered to consent to the placement of a DirecTV satellite antenna on the property.
So he signed up for TWC, and when the games were taken off the air for 49 days beginning at the beginning of this year, he couldn't deduct from his billing statement the component of charges allowable to MSG and MSG+.
He's filed a lawsuit on behalf of all similarly situated individuals for redress.The games are now back on, but his lawsuit continues.
There have been other lawsuits like this over the years, such as a class action filed by Cablevision customers when Fox went off the dial, and none has been successful. But usually, it's because customers forgive and forget rather quickly after the cable company and broadcaster decide to kiss-and-makeup. Maybe Linsanity is different?
Meanwhile, superstitious Knicks fans might begin to wonder whether it was really a positive development that the MSG dispute was solved. Since TWC customers finally got a chance to see Lin, the team has gone 4-9, the coach has stepped down, and the team's new superstar point guard has averaged less than 15 points in March. Fortunately for TWC, there's no legal right of action for cooler heads prevailing.