Photo of Senator Duff.

Senate Majority Leader

Bob Duff

Representing Norwalk & Darien

Follow Senator Duff: Facebook icon.Twitter icon.Instagram icon.flickr icon.YouTube icon.

Duff, Bradley, Haskell, Leone, Maroney & Moore Condemn Altice’s Hidden Rate Hike

Today, Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) along with fellow Democratic State Senators Dennis Bradley (D-Bridgeport), Will Haskell (D-Westport), Carlo Leone (D-Stamford), James Maroney (D-Milford), and Marilyn Moore (D-Bridgeport) sent a letter to Craig Johnson, Vice President of Government Affairs at Altice USA condemning the recent rate hikes and hidden fee increases Altice has implemented.

“This is about transparency and fairness to consumers,” said Senator Duff. “The recent hikes in fees and surcharges have hurt southwestern Connecticut residents, yet have benefitted the company. This is unacceptable and I hope Altice reconsiders their implementation of hidden rate hikes.”

Founded in Bethpage, New York in 1985, Altice USA is the largest cable TV and broadband provider in southwestern Connecticut and the fourth largest in the United States. They deliver broadband, pay television, telephone services, proprietary content and advertising services to approximately 4.9 million residential and business customers across 21 states through its Optimum and Suddenlink brands.

In 2017, total profits for Altice were $1.5 billion. This negated the $832 million loss it absorbed in 2016 when it acquired Cablevision for $17.1 billion. In May 2018, the company raised TV prices and rates on several services for existing and new customers. Representatives for the company stated that these changes reflected the rising cost of programming and the higher amounts it is paying networks as contracts come up for renewal. Examples of this uptick in costs include doubling to $10 the fee it charges customers whose service it shuts off as a result of nonpayment. Individuals who get TV, internet and voice service were charged $15 to restore service. Customers who signed up for a plan offering additional technical support paid the $6.99 a month Altice charged new subscribers to those plans, which was a $2 increase.

“Southwestern Connecticut families deserve fair prices for the services they are paying for and Altice is doing a disservice to all users of their services with these outrageous price hikes,” said Senator Dennis Bradley (D-Bridgeport). “Many Bridgeport families get their news and entertainment via Altice and these price hikes present an unneeded impediment to keeping them informed.”

“These hidden fees may seem small, but as they impact consumers on a monthly basis, their significance will quickly add up,” said Senator Will Haskell (D-Westport). “Altice is benefitting off consumers by implementing these hidden fees. They need to stop this predatory approach.”

“These high prices in tandem with bundles of channels that customers do not want are why Altice is losing customers,” said Senator Carlo Leone (D-Stamford). “I am hopeful Altice will choose to not levy these unneeded price hikes on their loyal, paying customers.” “These increases are unfair and unwarranted,” said Senator James Maroney (D-Milford). “I encourage Altice to strongly reassess these unnecessary price hikes as they will unnecessarily burden the families of southwestern Connecticut, and disproportionately impact those who can afford it the least, like our senior citizens and disabled residents whose primary contact to news and information may be through their cable.”

“Consumers cannot afford these hidden fee increases,” said Senator Marilyn Moore (D-Bridgeport). “Corporations like Altice continue to make unimaginable profits at the expense of everyday people who have little if no alternatives for television service. It is time we stood up and said enough is enough.”

Between July and September 2018, Altice saw a net loss of 20,700 Optimum TV subscribers. Combined with losses from 2017, the company lost nearly 76,000 subscribers overall. However, broadband subscribers increased during this time and helped to boost overall revenue 4 percent in the third quarter to $2.4 billion. Earnings totaled $32.6 million for the period.

Television companies usually announce modest advertised price hikes. Advertised rates generally rise 3 to 4 percent annually but add-on charges such as ‘broad TV fees’ and ‘regional sports fees’ do as well. These are the fees that are not prominently displayed in promotional materials and it can be hard to know what you are paying for up front. According to some analyst estimates, these costs have risen between 8 and 10 percent in each of the past four years.

For example, changes in pricing that went into effect June 1, 2018 include:

  • Monthly rate increase from $10.00 to $11.00 for new customers who elect to receive a traditional set-top box from Optimum.
  • Monthly rate increase from $2.00 to $2.50 for customers who request a CableCARD from Optimum.
  • Increase in the Sports Surcharge from $6.97 to $7.97 for customers subscribing to the Optimum Core or higher tier packages.
  • Basic Tier customers who were paying $13.95 a month saw an increase to $14.95.
  • The subscription for the Sports and Entertainment Package went from $8.95 to $10.00.
  • The optional Service Protection plan—which covers any fees assessed for service visits—increased for existing customers from $4.99 a month to $6.99.
  • Optimum customers who fail to pay their bill within 30 days of the due date saw an increase in the service fee from $4.99 to a minimum of $10.00.
  • Standard and premium installations for customers increased from $69.00 to $99.00 and $99.00 to $129.00, respectively.

In the third quarter of 2018, the company saw +4.1 percent year-on-year revenue growth as a result of hiking prices and implementing predatory fee increases. Company revenue was $2.42 billion last year. Altice has also raised its TV rates by an average of three percent in the past year. As of February 2019, the surcharge for broadcast TV has increased from one dollar to six dollars per month and the sports fee has gone from one dollar to nine dollars per month.

HOME

SENATE LEADERSHIP

NEWS & MEDIA

SITE LANGUAGE

CONTACT US

Legislative Office Building
Room 3300
Hartford, CT 06106-1591

Phone: 860-240-8600
Toll-free in CT: 1-800-842-1420
FAX: 860-240-0208

For general inquiries (will not be seen by legislators): info@senatedems.ct.gov

E-newsletter Signup

FOLLOW US

Facebook icon.Twitter icon.instagram icon.flickr icon.YouTube icon.

LINKS