NYC Cable Consumer Rights

New York City's cable television companies are required to follow customer service standards, for example, by answering customer telephone calls and providing installation and repair service in a timely manner. These standards are prescribed by
Cable Television Franchise Agreements administered by DoITT, as well as Rules of the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Below are brief descriptions of consumer rights regarding cable television service in New York City.

1. Solicitation of Subscriptions
2. Installation
3. Walk-In or Payment Centers
4. Billing
5. Equipment
6. Service Outages and Interruptions
7. Subscriber Complaints
8. Notice Requirements
9. Termination of Service and Disconnection
10. Credits
11. Miscellaneous Requirements
12. Rates and Programming Information
13. Other Contract Provisions

1. Solicitation of Subscriptions

Each employee, contractor or subcontractor of Charter-Spectrum, AlticeUSA-Optimum, RCN, or Verizon FiOS TV, who routinely comes in contact with residents for installation or service, must wear a picture identification card clearly indicating his or her name, the name of the contractor or subcontractor, and the name of the cable company.
Cable subscription information should include a description of the cable services provided by the company, a list of rates, terms and conditions for each cable service or tier of cable service, and other charges, such as installation, additional outlets, and the relocating of cable outlets.

2. Installation

New York City cable television companies must offer "appointment windows" in time blocks of no more than 4 hours on weekdays. Cable companies will credit the subscriber or potential subscriber $25 to the subscriber's bill in the next available billing period for missed installation appointments.

3. Walk-In or Payment Centers

New York City cable television companies must maintain conveniently-located walk-in or payment centers in each borough where they have a franchise, where residents may conduct activities and transactions regarding their accounts and exchange or return cable equipment. RCN maintains a district service center. These centers will maintain current copies of billing practices, payment requirements, and general information materials. Please contact your provider for locations.

4. Billing

Your cable bill is designed to present all information clearly, comprehensively, and accurately. Billing must be rendered monthly unless another schedule is authorized by the subscriber. A bill will not be considered delinquent until at least 45 days have elapsed from the mailing of the bill to the subscriber and payment has not been received by the cable company. The procedure for the resolution of billing disputes must be clearly defined. The company will promptly undertake whatever review is necessary to resolve the dispute. The subscriber may also request assistance from DoITT (see Subscriber Complaints below).

5. Equipment Provided by Franchisee

New York City cable television companies may require a deposit for use their equipment. Companies must give a demonstration, provide a description of the use of their equipment, and explain any charges for stolen or lost equipment.

6. Service Outages and Service Interruptions

New York City cable television companies must maintain an adequate repair and service force at all times. Companies must also exercise best efforts in scheduling planned outages during minimal usage hours and notify subscribers of any scheduled outage lasting more than four hours. The cable company may not impose any fee or charge for any service call or repair work unless work was necessitated by an act of negligence by the subscriber.

7. Subscriber Complaints

New York City cable television companies are required to adequately train their employees and maintain telephone lines so subscriber complaints are resolved quickly, professionally, and politely. Residents may submit complaints to DoITT before the cable company has issued a resolution.

When you have a cable television problem:
a. Contact your cable provider and report the problem. Your cable television company must maintain a local exchange or toll-free telephone number available to report a service problem or issue.
b. If your concerns have not been resolved you can file an online complaint form.
You may also call 311 or write to:

NYC DoITT - Cable TV
2 Metro Tech Center, 4th Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11201

8. Notice Requirements

New York City cable television companies must provide notice to DoITT and all subscribers no later than 30 days prior to the effective date of programming and rate change, unless the company is unaware of such change at the time. Notifications to subscribers will include any changes in rates or charges or significant terms or conditions, changes in billing practices and notices with respect to programming and/or network changes.

9. Termination of Service and Disconnection

A subscriber whose bill has not been paid after it becomes delinquent, so long as proper notice has been provided (see Billing), may be terminated. The cable company cannot discontinue a subscriber's service during the hours that their Walk-in, Payment, District, or Service Centers are closed. Prior to disconnection, notice must include the total amount required to be paid to avoid discontinuance and any collection fees, date due, and telephone and payment center information where payment can be made. The company cannot refuse to serve a former subscriber whose service was terminated, so long as all past bills and late charges have been paid in full.

10. Credits

New York City cable television companies will give credit for every service outage not caused by a subscriber that lasts over four continuous hours in any 24-hour period, to any subscriber who requests for it either by written or oral notice. The four-hour period shall commence at the time the cable television company first becomes aware of the outage. Cable companies will credit the subscriber $25 to the subscriber's bill in the next available billing period for missed service appointments.

11. Miscellaneous Requirements

New York City cable television companies shall make a reasonable effort, within a reasonable time prior to the appointment period, to telephone the subscriber to confirm the appointment. Upon arrival to the subscriber's premises and the technician is unable to secure access, the company will make reasonable efforts to contact the subscriber immediately to determine whether the subscriber is present. Charter-Spectrum and AlticeUSA-Optimum also have websites for subscribers to confirm their appointments and other important information including their Terms of Service and Subscriber Agreements.

12. Rates and Programming Information

Under the federal Cable Act, New York City may not set or limit the rates cable companies charge for cable television service and may not (with limited exceptions) require or limit what programming cable companies choose to offer.

13. Other Contract Provisions

The Cable Television Franchise contracts have many other provisions that affect consumers. If you wish to review the contracts in detail, please visit the Cable Television Franchise Agreements page.