By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) on Thursday denied Time Warner Cable’s request to be allowed to pull the plug at night on phone customers behind on their bills.
While companies are allowed to turn off cable boxes in the middle of Breaking Bad for lack of payment, phone service, considered essential, has stricter regulations.
Time Warner told the PSC it wanted to be able to cut off service at night and on Saturday “for its customers’ convenience.” PSC, which maintains a customer complaint hotline, was not buying that argument, however.
“We are saying ‘no’ to Time Warner’s request to waive our rules regarding when it would be authorized for suspensions and terminations of its telephone customers,” said Commission Chair Audrey Zibelman. “The Commission’s rules applicable to Time Warner are consistent with the hours of operation of the Commission’s consumer call center which receives consumer complaints’ and requests for assistance. To ensure telephone consumers’ rights are protected, especially core customers such as the elderly and disabled, it is essential customers are afforded the opportunity to contact our call center if their telephone service is threatened with a potential suspension or termination.”
Under existing rules, phone service can only be disconnected between the hours of 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Friday.
PSC did go along with Time Warner’s other requests, however, including allowing the company to distribute residential white page telephone directories only to customers who opt in, and changes to certain billing procedures.
PSC also granted Time Warner’s request for a waiver of its monthly service quality reporting requirements.
In March, PSC approved Time Warner’s request to begin offering regulated telephone service to 1.2 million customers in New York. Less than two months later, however, Time Warner requested deregulation and exemption from rules governing regulated telephone companies.
According to the Times Union, nearly 15 million customers subscribe to Time Warner cable. Time Warner shut off or suspended service to nearly 600,000 households for failing to pay bills last year.
More information is available at www.dps.ny.gov (Case Number 13-C-0193).