Laramie City Council Approves New Charter Agreement
Charter Communications has another decade of access to infrastructure in the City of Laramie’s rights-of-way after the City Council endorsed a reworded franchise agreement Tuesday evening.
The City Council voted unanimously against the original ordinance in March citing Charter’s initial unwillingness to address customer complaints in annual performance review meetings. After over a month of negotiations, company representatives agreed to new language in the City ordinance establishing yearly meetings to be held at the City’s discretion.
City Councilor Joe Shumway says it was important for the City to advocate on behalf of local customers, but the Council never wanted to tell Charter how to run its business.
“I don’t think we regulate them any more than we regulate Walmart,” says Shumway.
Shumway says Charter has taken other steps to improve local service, including the establishment a local telephone number for customer service issues and the installation of new equipment earlier this year.
“They’ve been bringing not only the local manager but also vice presidents, and listening to us and also responding very quickly to customers’ concerns,” says Shumway. “Not that they solved all of them – because they didn’t.”
City-wide service outages in February elicited a vocal response from Charter customers throughout Laramie, and Council Joe Vitale said in March the franchise agreement was the only leverage the City had to encourage Charter to improve local service and address customer complaints.
“The franchise agreement really doesn’t address performance or quality-of-service issues,” said Vitale. “But since the easement is important to them and quality of service to the citizens are important to us, that’s about the only bargaining chip we’ve had.”
Charter representatives were not immediately available for comment.