Time Warner asked the Commission in Case 13-C- 0193 to expand shutoff times to include Saturdays and evenings until 9 PM. This required waiver of the Commission's Telephone Fair Practices Act Regulations, which limit the days and times when phone service can be shut off. According to the Commission Press Release,
“We are saying ‘no’ to Time Warner’s request to waive our rules regarding when it would be authorized for suspensions and terminations of its telephone customers,” said Commission Chair Audrey Zibelman. “The Commission’s rules applicable to Time Warner are consistent with the hours of operation of the Commission’s consumer call center which receives consumer complaints’ and requests for assistance. To ensure telephone consumers’ rights are protected, especially core customers such as the elderly and disabled, it is essential customers are afforded the opportunity to contact our call center if their telephone service is threatened with a potential suspension or termination.”Time Warner also sought a waiver of Commission regulations requiring service repair quality reports, arguing that competition and the ability of customers to switch telephone service providers now makes reporting of service repair time and other data unnecessary. The Utility Law Project pointed out in its comments that the ability to switch providers is not an adequate substitute for enforcement of minimum service quality standards, and that even if one believes real competition makes service quality regulation unnecessary, phone service is oligopolistic and not truly competitive.
The Commission Press Release indicates PSC acceptance of Time Warner's argument:
Finally, the Commission conditionally granted Time Warner’s request for a waiver of its monthly service quality reporting requirements because, in Time Warner’s case, the need for regulatory action to ensure timely repairs for voice service has diminished due to the prevalence of competitive alternatives and the ability of residential and business customers to move to a different service provider.
An order will be issued later explaining the Commission's reasoning.
New York PSC to Consider Impact of Changing Technology on Phone Consumer Protection, 10/15/2013
Utility Law Project Opposes Time Warner Petitions for Waiver of Consumer Protection Rules on Telephone Shutoffs, Billing Practices, Customer Service Standards, 8/6/2013
Gerald A. Norlander
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