What recourse is there against Optimum and other internet providers?

Like many, I lost power and cable services due to TS Isiais. Power was back after four days, and luckily I have a generator, but I had no internet for over a week. Just got it back last night, after three hours total of being on hold, appointments given then taken away and moved to two days later, etc…

In my town, Optimum is the only provider, yet apparently their small print says we can’t sue them. Meanwhile, they make you fill out a form to claim the money back from the outage, then seem to be rejecting all claims. If I had a choice, believe me, Optimum would be gone.

They are accountable to no one, it appears. Internet in the age of Covid is not a luxury. It’s an essential utility. Three people in my home must have internet in order to work. The last week has seen us camping out in friends’ houses, sometimes multiple times a day when people have zoom meetings. Thank goodness for friends! I can’t even imagine what is going to happen when school starts and another storm comes along, which of course will happen.

Other crimes Optimum has committed:
-only being able to get a human by selecting the add products option.
-chatbots that respond 40 minutes later, then close the chat when you don’t respond immediately.
-tweets that get a response three days later!
-missed time windows, until finally they tell you it’s moved to next day, and don’t show up until 8:15pm that day, only to tell you they have to call a bucket truck (duh, the call was because a tree brought a line down!), or giving time “windows” of 7 am-8pm.
-while on hold, being told repeatedly that you can file a report online. Hello, no internet.
-no outage maps or restoration times EVER
-being on hold for literally hours.
-unfailingly rude customer service
-probably a thousand other problems

I am sure others have similar stories of their providers. How do we change this? In my frustration, I actually did email the governor, the state senator, the county executive, the town supervisor, and the local news station, just to feel a little better. But of course, there is not an option to actually email Optimum.

This needs to change. Cable providers are essential services now. Providers who have monopolies should be forced to reduce rates, or guarantee a standard of service. Competition should be encouraged from other providers. I don’t know how this would work. It is so frustrating.

What’s it like in communities where you have choices for providers, and have lost your service due to storms? Have those of you living in the boonies (should add, the boonies I live in are an hour away from a great metropolis and hardly the boonies) suffered similar issues? What can we do to end this lack of accountability?

We deal with the same here also and I live in a city. We only have Spectrum in our area and they are terrible.

Xfinity/comcast are no better either. I hate that they all have monopolies.

I heard this story on the radio about internet providers and it was very interesting:


In my friend’s area the various Town Supervisors and County Supervisor have banded together with the local State Congressman to have meetings about this. As a utility, they have to get approval from the State Utility Commission to set their rates, etc. oftentimes there is a complaint section there. But when your representatives all gather together and threaten action with the Utility Commission, that’s when you’ll get action.

I’ve got Google Fiber and it’s terrific, possibly because there are two other internet providers here. Google Fiber credits my account for outages I didn’t even notice. When Fiber came into town they had a deal where if you paid the installation (some minimal amount) you got seven years of free internet. The seven years is up this year.

My sister has Visible (from Verizon, I believe?). Her phone service is $35/mo (unthrottled and unlimited). The second line thereafter is $25/mo. - so her husband has a phone at $25. THEN they have an old phone, a third, which they leave at home. It is tethered to some $70 device from Amazon (one time fee) and it is set up to provide them with home internet, which evidentially it does perfectly. They both work at home (have been, for several years pre-covid) and have had no trouble with this setup. They also have streaming subscriptions, and this set up supports that.

So for a one-time $70 fee and $85/month thereafter, they have service for two cell phones plus a home internet.

Furthermore, she can add friends and family to her network at $25/mo. She offered to add me, but about a month ago we got ticked off by Comcast/Xfinity so we went and signed a year-long contract with AT&T.

ITA that internet is no longer a luxury, but an essential utility.

Spectrum sucks.

Experience may vary by location as I can report outstanding service and response times and refunds / credits over many years by a provider listed above that “ticked off” another poster.

They are utility monopolies. They don’t care and they don’t have to (remember Lily Thompson? “We’re the phone company and we don’t care”).

I’m curious about anything Verizon has that is unthrottled and unlimited. When we talked with them they said everything (unlimited) is throttled at 10G per device unless you pay for extra. The throttling only happens “when necessary,” but in our area that seems to be 100% of the time - unless perhaps 3am isn’t.

We have Xfinity/Comcast. The internet portion is new as of last summer, but the cable we have had forever. For us, customer service is hit or miss. Calling tends to be the worst. All they want to do is reset the box. If you get through somehow via internet (and I realize that’s hard if your internet is down at home!), setting something up that way has been better. If I ever get someone who helps, I be sure to THANK THEM over and over.

The worst was when we switched to their internet/VOIP, our phone number didn’t get ported over correctly. Trying to get it disconnected from our previous provider to comcast took about 8-10 hours on the phone with various people and waiting twice in the store for hours to try to untangle the mess. At one point, we had a 4 way call going between myself, Comcast, the old provider and the old provider’s third party. Afterwards I complained and got $150 off. I asked for more, but I was happy with something. (Even more aggravating is that we don’t really even want the phone number. The only person who calls it in my MIL with Alzheimer’s and telemarketers. )

When calling for assistance to Comcast / Xfinity, insist on being rerouted to a call center based in the US. Amazing service & response time. Credits are freely given as are free premium channels.

Not so if you are connected to a call center based abroad as they only want to reset the box or send a signal to another device.

P.S. Before Covid-19, Comcast / Xfinity would send a technician to customer’s home or office for almost anything if the customer was unwilling or unable to rectify the issue over the phone.

If customer wants new equipment, the company either delivers & installs it or ships it for free. Never had an unsatisfactory customer service experience when dealing with US based call centers.

What cell service do you use? If you have a good data connection via the cell service, that can be used for backup internet if cable goes out or is spotty. Of course, that assumes that you are in an area where cell coverage is good. I have unlimited 4G data with TMobile and the plan also allows for tethering or using the cell connection as a mobile hotspot. A lot of work-related tasks (email, zoom conferencing) can be handled via smartphone.

I’m not trying to put this out as an easy fix – I realize it comes with its own problems – it’s just that just as power can go out, so can internet. I’m in a suburban area with more options – I have AT&T fiber as my primary ISP. I’m not about to sing their praises either, but at the moment I am ok with them because I learned this week that they apparently have added free HBO Max to my plan.

I have ATT and the connection isn’t great. I tried to use it the other day and it just didn’t work.

I appreciate the input here. I think getting in touch with the state utility commission is a good idea. and @melvin123 I think your friend must be in NY, because indeed, a meeting took place as you described.

Bringing this thread back up to share our latest info.

As a note, we must hot spot our phones to get internet at home.

We’ve been running out of data with Verizon and having to pay $15 per gig extra for our needs. I checked into their unlimited plans:

  1. The one THEIR system recommended we switch to based upon our usage doesn’t even offer hotspotting. I couldn’t find that info anywhere on Verizon’s site. It’s only when I did a google search and found a third party review of plans that it was mentioned.

This did not set me in a good mood.

  1. We tried calling them to try to get specifics for each plan without having to sift through their website any longer (or third party sites) using up even more data. They said to expect a 7-15 minute wait (or similar to that). 36 minutes later we gave up and went back to their website briefly.

This continued the lack of good mood.

  1. From what we could tell, their new unlimited plans only give us a couple more hotspotting data gigs than we already have for the same cost as we’re paying now. “Great, two more gigs at least,” I originally thought. BUT all extra gigs have to be bought 5 at a time for $35 AND they don’t roll over. If you only need one or part of one, too bad for you.

  2. Throttling still occurs.

Then my youngest came in and suggested I try adding on to his Google Fi plan for $20 less per month and more gigs. I hemmed and hawed about it not having the coverage, etc. Then I tried it hotspotting his phone. Wow. It’s much faster. Much, much faster. Both yesterday and today (I’m on it now) - same sites - minutes after each other and switching back and forth to double check (making me think Verizon is throttling even when they aren’t supposed to be). If we need extra gigs, they are only $10 each vs $15. With the $20 savings I can buy two more and still break even, plus we start with more to begin with (25 per line vs 28 for two lines).

I have my sim card on the way to switch. No regrets for me leaving Verizon! Good riddance!

H will be keeping his Verizon acct for now. He’s the one going into the boonies for his job and we’re not sure Google Fi has coverage in all of his areas. When mine comes in he’ll be testing it to see. If it works well and we don’t run into other issues with it between now and then, we’ll be ditching Verizon for good.

YMMV Just sharing two days worth of my experiences.

First, you’d have to have competitors interested in your area. It’s not all about greedy robber barons. There’s a huge investment needed, for paltry returns.

And if you do live in an area subject to power outages, that part isn’t the internet provider.

Yes, it’s a utility, to us. But rely on it as we may, it’s still developing technology and dependent on conditions sometimes beyond their control. Your market, your topography, the age of your local facilities, and your local power set up. (Yes, crappy customer service is all on them.)

Bear in mind your own issues may be “last mile,” i.e., something about your own neighborhood.

You could look at satellite services, but that’s flawed.

We don’t get the primary NPR station on a house radio. And this is a city location. It’s geography.

Sorry, I get as aggravated as the rest of you.