Attorney General Tong announces investigation into Optimum following hundreds of consumer complaints
(Hartford, CT) – Attorney General William Tong today announced that he has initiated an investigation under Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices Act into Altice Optimum following nearly 500 consumer complaints about slow internet speeds, hidden charges and unacceptable tech support.
Many complaints filed with the Attorney General’s Office involved consumers who had paid for 300 Mbps or 400 Mbps cable internet plans. When consumers took home speed tests, they found they weren’t getting the speeds they paid for. The Office of the Attorney General has also received complaints regarding service charges, technical support and customer service. The Attorney General’s Office is also investigating a $3.50 “network enhancement fee” for Internet customers.
“Customers have the right to expect the Internet service and speed they pay for. Our office has reviewed hundreds of complaints from Optimum Cable Internet customers about slow speeds, hidden charges, and poor customer support. Our investigation is looking for complete records dating back to January 2017 to determine exactly what Altice Optimum knew and what they were doing to deliver the internet speeds and service they promised. If our investigation finds that Optimum has violated Connecticut law, we will not hesitate to hold them accountable,” said Attorney General Tong.
“Reliable internet access is an essential utility in 2022”, said Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull. “People depend on it for everything from school and work, to paying their bills, to entertainment and access to news. Consumers also deserve value for their money. I am pleased that the Attorney General is undertaking this investigation to determine if there has been any wrongdoing or harm to consumers who pay for Optimum’s services.
“Customers deserve the services they pay for, and these allegations indicate that Altice Optimum has failed to deliver on its word for half a decade,” said Sen. Norm Needleman (D-Essex), co-chair of the Energy and Technology Committee. “As the internet has become a vital part of everyday life, households that depend on these services for employment, education and recreation can suffer significant harm if they do not have reliable internet service. Altice Optimum contributed to this harm, they should suffer the consequences.I look forward to the findings of the Attorney General’s investigation.
“Consumers in Connecticut should not be subjected to potential hidden charges, mismarketing and poor customer service. Altice Optimum should be held liable if it in fact violated Connecticut law. I commend AG Tong for undertaking this investigation on behalf of Connecticut consumers. AG Tong’s record of public service accountability is second to none,” shelp Rep. David Arconti (D-Danbury), co-chair of the energy and technology committee.
“The importance and value of reliable Internet service has never been clearer to our families than it is today,” said Republican Senate Pro Tempore Leader Paul Formica (R-East Lyme), a ranking member of the Energy and Technology Committee. “We all share the objective of wanting to guarantee access to a reliable and quality service. In our efforts to achieve this goal, consumer complaints must be thoroughly investigated, and all stakeholders must work together to promote accountability and transparency and implement appropriate corrective actions to better support consumers.”
A Civil Inquiry Request sent today to Altice Optimum seeks detailed records of consumer complaints dating back to January 2017. The Civil Inquiry Request further requests records of how Altice Optimum marketed its internet speeds, any analysis or any records regarding Internet speed and quality that they ultimately delivered, records showing Altice Optimum’s knowledge of various factors affecting the speed and quality of its Internet service, records showing how Altice Optimum invested the revenue from its “network enhancement fees,” among other demands.
This investigation follows an August settlement with Frontier Communications following the investigation of more than 1,400 consumer complaints about equipment returns, poor internet quality, unsatisfactory customer service and excessive charges. . The Frontier settlement, worth more than $60 million, will dramatically expand high-speed Internet access for Frontier customers in economically challenged communities, end a hidden monthly Internet surcharge of $6.99, and will force significant improvements in Frontier’s marketing and customer service.
Assistant Attorney General Lauren Bidra, Casey Rybak, Paralegal Specialist, Caylee Ribeiro, Investigator, and Associate Assistant Attorney General Michael Wertheimer, Chief of the Consumer Protection Section assisted the Attorney General in this case.
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