Brindisi Wants Spectrum To Provide Refunds To Consumers
The New York State Public Service Commission has ordered Spectrum to leave New York for violations of its franchise agreement.
Brindisi says the utility cannot be allowed to leave New York without writing rebate checks for a slew of broken promises.
He say that includes promised internet service upgrades, high cable rates and poor service.
Brindisi also says Spectrum Cable's transition plans need to be made public, with ample chance for consumers to respond.
The PSC has given Charter/Spectrum 60 days to find a buyer to take over service to two-million customers in New York.
The following is the text of a letter Brindisi wrote to Attorney General Barbara Underwood, and Public Service Commission Chairman John Rhodes:
Dear Ms. Underwood and Mr. Rhodes:
I am writing to you as a follow up to the order issued by the New York State Public Service Commission on July 27, 2018 to revoke the 2016 merger agreement between Charter Communications, Inc. doing business in New York as Spectrum, and Time Warner Cable, Inc.
This order is truly in the best interests of New York residents. For two years, I have received literally hundreds of emails, letters, and petition signatures from constituents who have endured frequent, often unexpected rate hikes, and who have watched flashy ads from Charter promising lightning-fast internet speeds, as they can barely pay bills or send emails through 1980’s-era infrastructure that has not been improved.
I am respectfully asking that you collaborate to work on a three-point plan that addresses concerns I continue to hear from Charter’s cable and internet customers, as well as from the employees who work for the company. The following is my proposal for consideration by consumer and utility regulators:
Charter should provide reasonable compensation in the form of rebate checks to its customers who have received cable rate hikes significantly above the national average for cable rate increases, which was 5.8 percent from July, 2016 to July, 2017.
Customers with internet service from Charter who never received promised service upgrades should receive compensation in the form of rebate checks from the company.
Any company petitioning the PSC to pick up Charter’s internet, cable, and phone service should pledge to negotiate in good faith with unions representing workers, and should agree not to cut vitally needed pension and health care benefits for workers.
The rate increases Charter customers received shortly after Charter’s acquisition of Time-Warner’s system have been staggering. One constituent in Utica was billed $91.92 for cable services in January, 2017—and in March, 2018, his bill was $129.26 for exactly the same service. Another constituent from Rome told me that she paid $108 a month for cable, internet, and telephone service in May, 2016—about the time Charter took over for Time Warner. By April, 2018, her bill was $200. These are increases many times the national average, all under the guise of ‘expiring promotional packages’
These cable rate hikes are just as serious a problem for consumers as Charter’s failure to live up to its promises to upgrade its broadband. Many of the consumers I have heard from are seniors on fixed incomes who depend on cable and internet for information and to communicate with family members. They should be compensated for what clearly is blatant overcharging.
Thank you very much for all you are doing to protect New York consumers, and for your concern about this issue. If you have any questions, please feel free to give me a call.
Member of Assembly