Time Warner Cable's campaign, which includes TV, print and even an airplane with a banner that flies over AT&T's headquarter in San Antonio, features a mustachioed bully wearing a T-shirt with the words "Annoying Fees." Headlines on print ads include lines such as "What annoying fees are lurking in your AT&T phone bill?" and "If youre an AT&T customer, you're paying more in fees than with Time Warner Cable Digital Phone."
A "triple whammy of deceit" is how AT&T spokesman Fletcher Cook referred to the cable the ads running in the San Antonio market.
AT&T said it is required by law to levy taxes and other government taxes, and that Time Warner Cable charges those fees as well. In the suit filed Feb. 27 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, AT&T is asking for an injunction against the ads, as well as for Time Warner Cable's profits, legal costs and triple damages.
A Time Warner spokesman said the company had no comment because it has not seen the lawsuit.
This is the second lawsuit between the two companies as AT&T rolls out its U-Verse service, an offer to customers for entertainment services traditionally provided by the cable (much the way cable companies now offer phone and internet services once the realm of phone operators). Another pending suit and counter-suit between the two involves issues around construction of the U-Verse service.
AT&T has some 7,000 U-Verse customers through its local marketing efforts, which have relied on door-to-door solicitations, events, a push in AT&T stores selling wireless services (formerly Cingular Wireless) and direct mail.