Man drops plan for lawsuit over TV addiction

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Associated Press

WEST BEND, Wis. — A man who says he is addicted to television said Thursday he was just frustrated when he stormed into a cable company’s office and threatened to sue because his service wasn’t shut off.

Timothy Dumouchel, 48, said he asked Charter Communications to stop his cable service more than four years ago, but the signal kept coming into his West Bend home, even though he received no more bills.

“I wanted to talk to my family,” Dumouchel said. “When you’re watching TV, how much do you communicate with your family?”

Dumouchel said he received more than 100 channels and watched Court TV whenever he was home. He said he had started drinking alcohol and smoking again after stopping for seven years.

“I challenge any one of you here to leave your cable on and not hit the button (on the remote control) for 30 days,” he told reporters gathered in his basement Thursday.

Charter employees in Fond du Lac filed a police report Dec. 23 after Dumouchel came to the office and demanded to talk to someone about why the service wasn’t shut off.

“I believe that the reason I smoke and drink every day and my wife is overweight is because we watched TV every day for the last four years,” Dumouchel wrote in a complaint.

But he said Thursday he was just angry that he didn’t have a choice about whether the cable stayed on, and he would not sue.

“In all honesty, it was probably an error,” Dumouchel said. “I do not want to hurt the cable company.”

Charter spokesman David Andersen declined to speculate on why the signal kept coming into Dumouchel’s home. He said Dumouchel could have chosen to watch something enlightening, perhaps even while exercising.

“We removed him from our customer rolls when he asked to be. Since that time he has not been counted as a customer,” Andersen said.

Doug Heller, senior consumer advocate for the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights in Santa Monica, Calif., said he increasingly hears of consumers who have a tough time getting out of contracts.

“Whether you’re paying in cash or just paying in time, this is the kind of thing that really just drives people nuts. Why should you have to fight to get rid of a product?” Heller said.

Dumouchel said he now gets only the standard broadcast television stations – enough that his wife doesn’t have to miss any Green Bay Packer games.

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