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In a case reminiscent of David vs Goliath, Durangoan wins award against Spectrum

Jack Turner challenged the communications giant in small claims court to recoup payments for shoddy service
A small claims court awards Jack Turner of Durango $814.85 plus court costs for 15 months of payments to Spectrum. (Courtesy of Jack Turner)

Durango resident and recent La Plata County commissioner candidate Jack Turner moved into a new home in July 2021 and did what many people do – he had his internet and cable service hooked up by Spectrum, the company he had been using for years. And he rented a Spectrum modem.

The only problem was the service was unreliable and intermittent, Turner testified in small claims court at the La Plata County Combined Courts on Feb. 10. And no matter how many Spectrum technicians were dispatched or how many calls he made to the company during the 15 months that followed, the answer always came back that it was likely his equipment and computers that were the problem. So he went to Office Depot, Turner told the judge, and purchased the most expensive router and signal booster it had.

“But there was no noticeable improvement in internet service,” Turner said. “Sometimes it worked and other times it did not, or the quality of the signal was poor or nonexistent.”

To make a long story short, Turner wanted his money back from Spectrum for the 15 months of bad or nonexistent service but Spectrum refused, offering to refund only one month’s payment. So Turner took Spectrum’s parent company – Charter Communications Operating LLC – to small claims court, and won.

The court awarded Turner $814.85 for the amount he paid for those 15 months, plus $74 in court costs, according to court documents.

“I gotta tell you man, I was blown away because I’m sitting there going she, the judge, is for sure going to say, ‘Sorry Mr. Turner, you signed (the Spectrum contract)’ you know,” Turner said. “The main part is, the part to me that is just the most shocking is she said, ‘This contract’s unenforceable.’”

The contract the judge referenced is called a “clickwrap” agreement, the kind where customers must click a box if they agree to the terms of service before they are provided service.

“The short story is that Spectrum never denied that I received insufficient service and equipment for 15 months,” Turner said in an email to The Durango Herald. “Their case was based on (that) clickwrap agreement that stated Spectrum never has to pay more than one month of damages for non-service even when they don’t provide what they promised and the customer paid for.”

Turner provided documentation in court that a new Spectrum technician who came to his home in November found that the original cable the company had installed was defective, connections were installed improperly, one piece of equipment was not needed at all and that the modem rented was not working properly.

When the judge found in favor of Turner and said the contract was unenforceable, Turner said the Spectrum representative in court, a regional manager out of Cañon City who had said his top offer was reimbursement for one month of service only, looked stunned. The judge said Spectrum could appeal the ruling.

Turner said in his letter to the Herald that the representative “was just certain that the court would automatically rule in their favor. He was not a happy camper at the judge’s ruling and I’m fairly certain that they are going to appeal since this must be a precedent that would disrupt their ability to exploit customers.”

Charter Communications in Greenwood declined to comment for this story.

Turner said he was elated by the verdict.

“I’m on cloud nine because I can’t believe we did this,” he said. “So I hope it is a blow for the little guy. But I’m kind of wondering what is going to happen. I honestly have no idea where this goes from here.”


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