Road Runner Customers : Do you deserve a refund?
January 10, 2003 - Good news and bad news:
The good news is the fact that I failed to win a judgment against Oceanic Time Warner Cable doesn't set a precedent - there's nothing to prevent any other customer injured by Oceanic Road Runner deceptive business practices from filing a suit and recovering damages. The bad news is that I didn't do a good enough job to convince the small claims judge to grant me what the law entitles me to.
If anyone in the Kona or Hilo areas that was a customer of Road Runner service at anytime from 2000 through the end of 2001 is interested in filing an action in Small Claims Court to get compensated for the lack of promised high-speed service, I'm willing to help! It will cost you $35. in court cost to file a case, and about $5 to serve notice of your case on Oceanic via Certified Mail. You'll have to appear in court for your case. And I'm willing to help you - including expert witness/testimony. Use the link at the bottom of the page to contact me.
What the law entitles you to: If you were injured at all - even $1. worth - by Oceanic's deceptive business practices (advertising and promoting Road Runner service as high speed when there were capactity problems) - the law entitles you to recover a minimum judgment of $1000. (HRS 480-13). Hawaii law defines unfair or deceptive business practices based upon the rules, regulations and decisions of the Federal Trade Commission and the federal courts interpreting seciont 5(a)(1) of the Federal Trade Commission Act (15 USC 45(a)(1)). (HRS 480-2) Take a look at the FTC Truth in Advertising FAQ and you'll get an idea of what deceptive advertising is.
Will you win? I'm convinced that the law, if correctly applied, would allow each of the over 1,000 Big Island Road Runner customers from 2000-2001 to be entitled to a $1000 judgment. (And, many times that number on Oahu....) So, until enough people take action, Oceanic may spend their money on attorneys fees fighting.... In a way you win, as either way they don't get to keep the money they got from you.
If you're unfamiliar with the Hawaii Road Runner issues I'm talking about - take a look at the rest of the site, including the old main page that I've replaced with this one as of January 16, 2003.
HOW TO FILE AN ACTION IN HAWAII SMALL CLAIMS COURT:
You can fill out the form you need online with Acrobat here at the Hawaii Judiciary site.
All you need to do is select which district you're in (drop-down box), fill in your name as the Plaintiff, Oceanic Time Warner Cable of Hawaii as the defendant; your name and address as the filing party, and in the 'alleges' section, enter your address, today's date, and the sum of $1000 for 'damages resulting from defendant's deceptive business practices in connection with my purchase of Road Runner service.' Defendant(s) does business at: (Kona or Hilo address - see below); and repeat the $1000 figure at the bottom. Then, make 3 copies, and take to the Courthouse. (Don't sign it until you see the clerk at the courthouse.) You'll pay $35 (cash, check or credit card), It will be stamped, and you'll get two copies back, one marked Plaintiff, the other Defendant. By Certified Mail, Return Receipt and Restricted Delivery, send the Defendant's copy to: Lorene Hough, General Manager, Oceanic Time Warner Cable, and the Hilo or Kona address below.
Kona: 74-5605 Luhia Street, Suite B-1
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
Hilo: 1257 Kiluauea Avenue
Hilo, HI 96720
When you take the form to the courthouse, a hearing date will be set. (Usually about a month from the time you file.) When you receive the return receipt from your certified mailing of the defendant's copy, take or mail a copy of the return receipt to the small claims clerk at the courthouse. You'll need to appear at court for the first hearing - but there will not be a trial - you, and the defendant are asked if you wish to have an independent mediator attempt to resolve the dispute. If either party does not wish to attempt mediation, a trial date is set, usually in another month. You'll need to appear, along with any witnesses and evidence, at this second date. Decisions at Small Claims cannot be appealed, and they do not set any legal precedent.
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