“U.S. senators blasted Comcast, AT&T, Charter Communications, and Dish Network over millions of dollars in pay-TV billing overcharges, promotional pricing, bill haggling, and other loathed customer-service practices during a hearing here on Thursday that included officials of those companies,” Bob Fernandez reports for The Philadelphia Inquirer. “The hearing aired the findings of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which reviewed 93,000 documents and spoke with dozens of company executives over the last 13 months. Senators said the companies should simplify bills, be more transparent, and refund overcharges. Time Warner Cable and Charter, two cable giants that recently merged, faced the harshest criticism on billing overcharges. According to one of the committee reports released Thursday, 40 percent of Comcast customers who called with problems with bills could not resolve them on the first call in December 2015.”

“Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, the committee’s ranking Democrat, who had pushed for a public hearing for two years, said she had been personally frustrated with charges on her pay-TV bill and told pay-TV executives testifying Thursday that ‘nobody knows how get the lowest price from you guys . . . I think the secret sauce is to get really mad,'” Fernandez reports. “Ohio Republican Rob Portman, the committee’s chairman, said the inability of Time Warner Cable to refund overbilled charges amounted to a ‘ripoff’ for consumers. He repeatedly returned to the issue through the two-hour hearing, noting that 44,000 Ohio residents had been overcharged by Time Warner Cable in 2015. According to a committee estimate, Time Warner Cable and Charter will overbill customers nationwide $7.2 million this year.”

Fernandez reports, “Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said the nation has many other big problems, such as the projected trillions of dollars in deficits for Social Security and Medicare, and questioned the importance of Thursday’s topic, noting, ‘We need to keep this hearing in perspective and not get carried away.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Smart move by the senators: They finally found somebody U.S. citizens hate more than them.