Altice-owned Optimum sued by ex-customer over cancellation policy

Altice USA

A class-action lawsuit is taking aim at the cancellation policy at Cablevision, now Altice, which requires a full monthly cycle of payment even after customers officially unplug and turn in their set-top boxes.

DSLReports has a link to the suit itself, which asserts that customers canceling service before the end of a billing cycle can be hit with $100 or more in additional charges for cable service. This even after they turn in equipment as part of a routine move or a switch to another cable provider.

The class-action suit, initiated by former Optimum customer Christopher Krafczek, claims that the charges violate New York State law barring deceptive practices. Specifically, it complains that customers were not given sufficient written notice of the policy in the wake of Altice's closing of its acquistion of Optimum's former parent, Cablevision.

 "We find this lawsuit to be without merit and will defend against it," Altice said in a statement to FierceCable in response to the lawsuit.

As notes, the official Optimum policy states that the full monthly cycle is due upon cancellation and may not be refunded. Plus, like most companies now, Optimum's terms of service include a provision that prevents its customers from suing it in traditional court, instead pushing users toward binding arbitration—where companies tend to win disputes the majority of the time.

Plaintiffs are seeking $50 or greater in damages for each class member, based on the amount billed after disconnecting service, attorney fees, and punitive damages. The suit claims customers in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey who voluntarily disconnected cable service between October 2016 and May 3, 2017 paid more than $5 million for service they did not want to continue receiving.

The way cable companies are coping with video subscriber losses has gained significant attention of late. It is a delicate balancing act for operators, who must try to make up for cord cutting's hit to their revenue but also not alienate customers who might still be in the market for their broadband service. Customer service hits are often the result, as reps place a Byzantine series of obstacles in front of subscribers who have the temerity to try to quit—as Comcast was exposed for doing a couple of years ago.

Article updated June 1 with a response from Altice.