Mediacom shuttering customer service office in Currituck

By on June 4, 2018

Signs on the door of the office. (Sam Walker)

The cable television and internet provider for mainland Currituck County will be closing its local customer service office by the end of the month.

With Mediacom shuttering the office near the Currituck courthouse, customers will have to drive to either Edenton or Plymouth if they want to swap out faulty equipment or pay their bills in person with cash or check.

The office has been operating on a reduced schedule since late winter of Tuesdays and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to the building’s landlord, who said they were notified just a few weeks ago Mediacom was leaving.

But customers who have stopped in since the changes have found the office on Caratoke Highway was locked, even during scheduled hours. A sign on the door Monday said they would not be open the next day.

Cable service on the Currituck Outer Banks is provided by Spectrum, which relocated its office last year to The Marketplace in Southern Shores after Hurricane Matthew damaged the previous location in Nags Head’s Gallery Row.

Mediacom covers a majority of the mostly-rural northeastern North Carolina, including all or part of Camden, Perquimans, Chowan, Washington, Tyrrell, Beaufort, Bertie, Martin, Northampton and Halifax counties.

These same counties have some of the worst broadband internet coverage in the country, with dial-up speeds at best in many places.

Besides the cable companies, Centurylink is the only other provider in much the eastern North Carolina of what the telecommunications industry classifies as high-speed internet service.

Currituck officials were taken by surprise when told by The Outer Banks Voice about the Mediacom office closing.

“There is very little communication between the county and Mediacom,” said County Manager Dan Scanlon.

Scanlon noted a company representative would attend Currituck Board of Commissioners meetings at least once a quarter to provide an update on services or answer any questions, but that had not happened for some time.

North Carolina counties and cities used to have individual franchise agreements with cable companies, but those came to an end starting in 2007.

The General Assembly passed legislation the previous year creating a statewide franchise agreement, when companies began wanting to expand their offerings to include internet and other communication services.

“When this was enacted we saw almost an immediate decrease in the interaction and information flow between the county and the cable companies as they no longer needed to negotiate with the local governments,” Scanlon said.

Another law passed in 2006 charged the state Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division with handling certain kinds of consumer complaints against cable television companies. Local governments continue to handle some cable complaints.

Thomas J. Larsen, senior vice president for Government and Public Relations at Mediacom’s headquarters in the Buffalo area, was not available for comment Monday.

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