Telecom Companies Heed Sen. Bill Nelson’s Call, Credit Customers For Outages

Sep 18, 2017

Many telecom and cable companies are taking Sen. Bill Nelson’s advice and crediting their customers affected by Hurricane Irma for service outages as well as waiving late fees and extending billing periods.

“As we begin the recovery process, it’s important that consumers not be saddled with late fees and other unnecessary costs—particularly those without the means to deal with such costs,”Nelson wrote in a letter to the leaders of nine companies.

It’s not clear if Nelson got exactly what he wanted from all of them — rebates for service interruptions and the imposition of a 60-day moratorium on late fees and other penalties. But most of the companies have replied to Nelson with plans to address customer needs in some fashion.

AT&T is waiving data overage charges for customers in the Sunshine State and has extended its payment dates. Verizon is giving an extra three gigabytes of data to prepaid customers, waiving late fees for all subscribers and deploying mobile Verizon stores to areas of the state hit the hardest.

T-Mobile has waived their data, talk and text limits for customers who don’t already subscribe to unlimited plans. Meanwhile, Sprint has waived text, call and data overage fees and will continue to do so through Sept. 22.

Telephone and internet company CenturyLink waived its late fees and is ceasing all collections activities for customers impacted by the storm through Oct. 16. Cox cable is doing the same as it continues to restore service to customers impacted. They’re offering credits on an individual basis.

Meanwhile, Comcast is still struggling to bring large swaths of Florida back online, including large areas of Northeast Florida.

As of Monday, there were many customers in the Riverside and San Marco neighborhoods of Jacksonville — some of the hardest hit areas on the river and close to downtown — who could neither access neither their own home internet nor the company’s Xfinity hotspots.

It was originally reported by local outlets that much of the Comcast outage had nothing to do with Hurricane Irma and instead was due to a cut cable. However, the storm’s lingering debris and flooding has made it difficult for crews to assess and fix the damage.

Estimated restoration deadline for Xfinity services is Monday night and the company says it will be crediting all affected customer accounts on their next billing cycle.

Ryan Benk can be reached at rbenk@wjct.org, at (904) 358 6319 or on Twitter at @RyanMichaelBenk.