Attorney General William Tong announced Monday that he had opened an investigation under the CT Unfair Trade Practices Act into Altice Optimum following nearly 500 consumer complaints regarding slow internet speeds, hidden fees, and unacceptable technical support.
Many complaints to the Office of the Attorney General involved consumers who paid for either 300 Mbps or 400 Mbps cable internet plans.
When consumers ran home speed tests, they discovered they were not receiving the speeds they paid for.
The Office of the Attorney General also received complaints regarding service fees, technical support, and customer service.
The Office of the Attorney General is also investigating a $3.50 “Network Enhancement Fee” for internet customers.
“Customers have a right to expect the service and internet speed they pay for. Our office has reviewed hundreds of complaints from Optimum cable internet customers regarding slow speeds, hidden fees, and poor customer support. Our investigation seeks comprehensive records dating back to January 2017 to determine exactly what Altice Optimum knew and what they were doing to deliver the internet speeds and service they promised. If our investigation finds that Optimum violated Connecticut law, we will not hesitate to hold them accountable,” said Attorney General Tong in a release.
“Reliable internet access is a critical utility in 2022,” said Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle Seagull. “People rely on it for everything from school and work to paying their bills, to entertainment and news access. Consumers also deserve to get what they pay for. I am glad the Attorney General is taking on this investigation to determine if there has been any wrongdoing or harm done to consumers who pay for Optimum’s services.”
“Customers deserve the services they pay for, and these allegations indicate Altice Optimum has failed to deliver on its word for half a decade,” said Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex), Co-Chair of the Energy & Technology Committee. “As the internet has become a vital part of everyday life, households relying on these services for employment, education and entertainment can experience significant harm if they lack reliable internet service. If Altice Optimum contributed to that harm, they should face the consequences. I look forward to the findings of the Attorney General’s investigation.”
“Connecticut consumers should not be subject to potential hidden fees, mis leading marketing and poor customer service. Altice Optimum should be held accountable if they did in fact violate Connecticut law. I commend AG Tong for taking on this investigation on behalf of Connecticut consumers. AG Tong’s record of holding utilities accountable is second to none,” said Rep. David Arconti (D-Danbury), Co-Chair of the Energy & Technology Committee.
“The importance and value of having reliable internet service has never been clearer to our families than it is today,” said Senate Republican Leader Pro Tempore Paul Formica (R-East Lyme), ranking member of the Energy & Technology Committee. “We all share the goal of wanting to ensure access to quality and reliable service. In our efforts to address that goal, consumer complaints must be thoroughly examined, and all stakeholders must work together to promote accountability and transparency and implement appropriate corrective action to best support consumers.”
A civil investigative demand sent today to Altice Optimum seeks detailed records of consumer complaints dating back to January 2017. The civil investigative demand further seeks records of how Altice Optimum marketed its internet speeds, any analysis or records regarding the speed and quality of internet they ultimately delivered, records showing Altice Optimum’s knowledge of various factors impacting the speed and quality of their internet service, records showing how Altice Optimum invested revenue from their “Network Enhancement Fee,” among other demands.
This investigation follows a settlement reached in August with Frontier Communications following review of over 1,400 consumer complaints regarding equipment returns, poor internet quality, unsatisfactory customer service, and excessive charges. The Frontier settlement, worth over $60 million, will dramatically expand access to high-speed internet for Frontier customers in economically distressed communities, end a hidden monthly $6.99 internet surcharge, and force significant improvements in Frontier’s marketing and customer service.