TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblyman Ron Dancer wants cable television providers to prorate bills for customers who experience service disruptions or cancellations.
“This is commonsense legislation – consumers shouldn’t be paying for services they do not receive,” said Dancer.
Altice, which operates as Optimum in New Jersey – one of the state’s largest cable providers, has been fighting an order by New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities to end its whole month billing practice. Customers who had their service discontinued or canceled before or after the start of a new billing cycle were still being required to pay for the entire month.
Dancer’s legislation (A5005) would require cable TV companies that disconnect or interrupt a subscriber’s service, either for non-payment or other reason, to prorate the bill from the date of service suspension.
“We can’t let cable TV providers continue to take advantage of customers. They bury fine print on their websites and many are not as forthcoming as they should be when customers seek clarification,” said Dancer. “We need to empower consumers with the tools they need to make informed decisions and they should be at the minimum provided clear and transparent bills.”
Currently, cable companies do not have to provide customers with written notice of the procedures for obtaining credits, rebates, or other forms of compensation if that information is on their website. Dancer’s legislation would require that information, as well as bill proration for service outages lasting longer than six hours, to be conspicuous in every statement.
The Board of Public Utilities would also be required to annually review a cable TV company’s terms and conditions.
Dancer’s bill has been referred to the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee.