Cablevision Subscribers Sue Over Hurricane Sandy Outages

Class-action lawsuit claims that cable provider "instituted a secretive policy" to give credit to affected subscribers in the wake of Hurricane Sandy

Even as workers scramble to clean up the mess that Hurricane Sandy left in the Northeast two weeks ago, a legal mess is beginning to spill into the court system.

Cablevision subscribers Jeffery and Irwin Bard filed a class-action lawsuit against the cable provider in New York Supreme Court this week, seeking restitution for television, telephone and internet outages caused by Sandy, according to court papers obtained by TheWrap.

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The suit, which alleges breach of contract and unjust enrichment, claims that Cablevision "continued to advertise falsely that it was providing services to its customers" even after the storm caused outages for its customers, and "could not restore services to many of its customers for days, or even weeks."

Moreover, according to the complaint, Cablevision continued to issue bills for services it was unable to provide in the aftermath of the storm, and "instituted a secretive policy to offer 'customer credits’ only to customers who affirmatively and actively demanded rebates on a discretionary basis," rather than offer across-the-board rebates to its customers, even though it had access to which customers had lost power and for how long.

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A spokesman for Cablevision told TheWrap that the lawsuit "misstates the facts and is without merit," and that Cablevision has "an extremely broad and customer friendly credit policy following Sandy."

"Blanket or arbitrary credits for cable outages could shortchange customers because each case is different and our policy covers the entire period of time when Cablevision service was out, including when the service interruption was caused by the loss of electrical power," the spokesman said in a statement.

Cablevision does allow for customers to call and process their credit, or go to  optimum.net/credit, where they can detail the period of their outage to receive credit.

The suit, filed Tuesday, seeks unspecified damages for each member of the class, plus attorneys' fees and court costs, along with a permanent restraint barring Bethpage, N.Y.-based Cablevision from billing or invoicing customers when there's a service outage of more than 24 hours.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.