TRENTON, NJ -- Contnuing to follow up on Optimum/Altice USA customer complaints, Robbinsville Mayor Dave Fried and Hamilton Mayor Jeff Martin announced on Friday that the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) will hold a public hearing about poor service and unfair consumer pricing.
In issuing its initial findings into an investigation that Fried, Martin and mayors from 10 other towns across New Jersey -- notably Dunellen, Sayreville, Green Brook, Howell, Jackson, Montville, North Brunswick and Piscataway -- the BPU said it found "sufficient cause" to investigate Optimum/Altice USA. The municipal and legislative officials cited in their complaints the "frequent and lengthy service disruptions (across all services), inconsistent connections and fluctuating Internet speeds, long telephone wait times, poor customer service, and an inability to get a satisfactory response to these issues from the company both before and after the COVID-19 pandemic."
Attorneys for Robbinsville and Hamilton filed dual letters to Lawanda Gilbert, Director of the BPU Office of Cable Television and Telecommunications, requesting an investigation into the under performing utility in August 2020.
The BPU Order states that it "reviewed the various complaints, municipal government official resolutions and requests for Board investigation and intervention in this matter, and HEREBY FINDS that there is sufficient cause to convene a proceeding to afford the municipal officials and Altice customers the opportunity to voice their concerns about the services received from Altice; as well as afford the company the opportunity to respond to these concerns before determining what corrective action may be warranted and should be taken in this matter."
The letters detail just 11 examples from the hundreds of complaints received by the respective municipal offices at Robbinsville and Hamilton over the past several months citing poor customer service, unstable Internet connections, insufficient network capacity and allegations of price-gouging.
“It is the duty of Optimum (Altice USA) as a utility to furnish safe, adequate and proper service for its customers ... and they have failed in that duty,” Fried said last summer. “We should not have to continuously pressure this provider to do its job."
Martin also received a flood of complaints regarding Optimum/Altice USA (formerly Cablevision) and requested the BPU immediately commence an investigation into the services being provided to both Robbinsville and Hamilton pursuant to powers vested in the Board.
“Having reliable cable and internet service has never been more of a necessity than this year has proved it to be,” Martin said. “Both municipalities’ residents have experienced similar, unacceptable issues and a lack of timely remediation from Optimum. Mayor Fried and I will fight for our residents by partnering together on this issue and hope that by doing so it will provide for a stronger likelihood of these concerns being taken seriously by the State. “
The Board designated Commissioner Mary-Anna Holden as the Presiding Officer of the hearing and investigation granting her authority "to rule on all motions that arise during the proceedings and modify any schedules that may be set as necessary to secure a just and expeditious determination of the issues."
Entities who wish to intervene on the topic must do so by February 26.
Members of the public who wish to submit comments on the "Operations of Altice USA in New Jersey" investigation can do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org in PDF or Word format and must contain in the subject the caption “Docket No. CX21020139 or submitting comments through the Board’s External Access Portal. Directions for e-filing can be found on the Board’s website .
Know a story we should share with readers? Email editor Elizabeth Meyers and tell her about it.