November 15, 2012 7:15am PT by Eriq Gardner
Cablevision Sued for $250 Million Over Hurricane-Related Service Outages
There are still tens of thousands without electricity in New York, but the power at the courthouse is evidently working fine.
New York resident Irwin Bard and his son have filed a $250 million lawsuit that alleges that Cablevision customers after Hurricane Sandy are being forced to pay for non-existent cable, internet and telephone services. The plaintiffs allege that Cablevision is obligated to immediately rebate every customer for the period of time service was disrupted.
"The lawsuit misstates the facts and is without merit," says a statement by Cablevision in response. "But lawsuits aside, we have an extremely broad and customer friendly credit policy following Sandy."
A Cablevision spokesperson says that customers can call to process their credit to visit a section of the company's website to enter the time of period they were out of service.
The initial question presented in the lawsuit is whether cable customers need to opt-into credits or whether the company should proactively apply them.
According to Cablevision, "Blanket or arbitrary credits for cable outages could shortchange customers because each case is different and our policy covers the entire period of time when Cablevision service was out, including when the service interruption was caused by the loss of electrical power."
But Hunter Shkolnik, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, disagrees, making the argument that if "Cablevision knew, or reasonably should have known, that it could not supply its services, Cablevision should not have accepted payments for services not provided."
The plaintiffs are demanding an injunction to stop Cablevision's practice of withholding rebates unless a customer complains.
According to Cablevision's last update on Tuesday, there were 90,308 customers without power and Optimum service and 30,011 customers with power and without Optimum service.
E-mail: email@example.com; Twitter: @eriqgardner