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Huge Optimum Outage, No Refunds, and Callers Learn Customer Service is “Disconnected”

Phillip Dampier September 10, 2019 Altice USA, Consumer News No Comments

No customer service for you.

“The number you have dialed has been disconnected or is no longer in service. Please check the number and dial again.”

When Altice USA/Optimum customers discovered their TV and internet service stopped working Friday night in parts of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, many called the customer service number printed on their monthly bill and discovered it was “disconnected or no longer in service.”

Outraged customers took to Twitter to express their displeasure.

“Since you shut off your Customer Service line, we all deserve a hefty credit to our accounts. ‘We’re always here to answer your questions.’ NO clearly you’re not, otherwise we’d be able to call you when there’s a sudden outage across multiple cities & no one knows why,” Nathalie Levey tweeted in frustration.

With the widespread outage affecting at least tens of thousands of customers across three states, some found other phone numbers to reach out to Optimum, but those lucky enough to get through were left languishing on hold “for hours,” according to the Connecticut Post. More than a few decided calling 911 was a better idea, much to the consternation of local police departments across the northeast that asked them to stop.

For some reason, Optimum phone service still worked for some, but not others. But it proved useless for reaching the cable company, with a recorded message asking callers to try again later. But calls placed from mobile phones or landlines still managed to get through, sometimes.

…when it works

It was an outage made to frustrate, in part because shortly after Altice acquired Optimum from Cablevision in 2016 as part of a $17.7 billion dollar acquisition, Altice promptly closed down Optimum’s call centers in Shelton and Stratford, Conn., employing nearly 600 workers.

An Altice spokesperson curtly described the outage as “power related” and left it at that, refusing to indicate if customers would be given a bill credit for the outage.

“We still don’t know, because you can’t reach these people on the phone at all and the people at the local cable store tell you that you have to call in, so they are also useless,” complained Sally Davis, an Optimum customer near Litchfield.

There may be another way to ask for a refund, but there is no proof it will actually result in a future bill credit:

The company maintains a general website where customers can request bill credits as noted by Hal Levy, chairman of a regional cable TV advisory council that keeps tabs on carriers and the quality of services they provide. The website on Monday directed customers to telephone, online chat and Twitter for follow-up on requests for bill credits.

“In past instances of widespread outages when the company was owned by Cablevison, automatic bill credits were issued to subscribers,” Levy wrote in an email to Hearst Connecticut Media.

The newspaper notes the outage hit just two weeks after Altice USA tacked $5 onto the rate for Connecticut customers who subscribe to its “Premier” TV package, raising the monthly charge to $110 on par with the rate for a “Gold” plan the company discontinued, while transitioning those subscribers to “Premier” status.

“Who are they kidding?,” Davis told Stop the Cap! “Optimum treats its customers to ‘PoS status.’ I wish we had FiOS.”

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