ROBBINSVILLE-HAMILTON TOWNSHIPS, NJ (MERCER)–In response to a wave of complaints regarding poor service and unfair consumer pricing by Optimum/Altice USA, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) has found sufficient cause to investigate Optimum/Altice USA and convene a public hearing on March 16, 2021.
The BPU said in a February 17 order it had:
“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 Board designated Commissioner Mary-Anna Holden as the Presiding Officer. Holden “is authorized 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.”
The public hearing will be held virtually. Information concerning participation in the public hearing will be posted on the BPU website. Attorneys for the Townships of 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.
In addition to Hamilton and Robbinsville, the order lists the boroughs of Dunellen and Sayreville, along with the Townships of Green Brook, Howell, Jackson, Montville, North Brunswick and Piscataway. The BPU received complaints and resolutions from at least 10 municipalities and several state legislators concerning various issues their residents and constituents cited alleging inadequacy and lack of service provided by Altice USA. In the complaints, the municipal and legislative officials cited: “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.”
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,” Robbinsville Township Mayor Dave Fried said last summer. “We should not have to continuously pressure this provider to do its job.”
Hamilton Township Mayor Jeff 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. “
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