Saturday, July 18, 2015

Cablevision wrote that it requires Social Security Number only for "standard retail rates", i.e., rates NOBODY takes.

Cablevision (Mathew, of Corporate Executive Customer Relations (CECR)) wrote a paper letter to me dated June 30, 2015, post marked July 15, 2015, which arrived yesterday July 17, 2015.  You can't make up stuff like this.

I have written several recent posts on this topis, including:

Cablevision called but insisted on recording our conversation. I declined. SUNDAY, JUNE 28, 2015

A couple of days ago a guy (Mathew, I think) from Cablevision called to discuss what's described in my previous post ...

There are two things that federal and state legislatures need to do:
1. Prohibit private companies, especially those providing utility and pseudo-utility services, from demanding that a customer provide them with his/her Social Security number.
2. Ban the recording of conversations unless a copy and/or transcript is made available to the consumer...

Unfortunately, when a company with monopoly or duopoly power in an industry asks it is really a demand.

I call upon my elected representatives to pass legislation to fix this.


Mathew did not provide a last name.  He did provide a phone number (631-846-5317), which I called yesterday about 7 PM.  It was answered by a person who had no idea who Mathew was.  She assured me that Mathew did not have a voice mailbox where I could leave a message.  She did, however, provide an e-mail ID for the group that Mathew is in:  It turns out I already had that for a guy named Thomas Hagzan.  I'll send a link for this post to that e-mail ID and also to:

James Dolan, Cablevision CEO:

OK, here's what Mathew wrote:

... providing your Social Security Number to Cablevision is not a requirement. If a Social Security Number is not provided by a prospective customer, service would still be offered at our standard retail rates.  Please note, we do request a Social Security Number when a customer wishes to sign up for a promotional offer."

Nobody pays standard retail rates when switching to a company like Cablevision. NOBODY. To suggest that this policy is not an absolute requirement is to present a distinction without a difference. It is either ironic or a poor choice of words that Mathew wrote they "request a Social Security Number ... for a promotional offer".  If that's really true then there is no issue.  They request.  I decline.  Cablevision provides service at the rates for a promotional offer.  But that won't happen.

Mathew also mentioned the phrase "sign up".  I think part of the attraction of a Cablevision "promotional offer" is that there is no annual contract, so a new customer is not required to "sign up".

Cablevision "promotional offer" is pricing intended to entice you to switch.  Then after the promotional period expires, maybe in a year, the rates increase to, I guess, "standard retail rates".  At that point a customer decides whether to switch and take a "promotional offer" from a competitor, in this case Verizon and its FIOS.  Mathew did not provide any rates, either "standard retail" or "promotional".  He should have.

In his opening sentence Mathew wrote:

"The complaint that you filed with the (New York State) Public Service Commission has been forwarded to my attention for investigation and handling."

New York State Public Service Commission complaint against Cablevision for collecting Social Security numbers. THURSDAY, JUNE 18, 2015

Complaints have also been filed with the FCC, Social Security Administartion and a message sent to the New York State Attorney General.  Messages sent to both U.S. Senators and member of the House of Representatives.  Oh, and Executive Director White Plains Cable TV...

Communicated by phone and e-mail with Thomas Hagzan, Corporate Executive Customer Relations Cablevision: 631-846-5317


Let the "investigation and handling" begin! But do not record conversations without providing me with a copy. And I think that New York State requires that both parties consent to a phone conversation being recorded. Companies do not even come close to asking for consent. They don't even hedge anu more and state that it may be recorded. They tell you that it is being recorded and then plow ahead with their prepared telemarketing script and completely ignore any objection or question. This has to stop.


SteveFL said...

I don't think either of your legislative demands would be bad, but the reality is that in today's world, providers want to have as much info as possible to track down deadbeats and the easiest way to get that info is to either make an offer (sweetener) conditional on it (Cablevision) or to say that "national security rules" require it. But short of a national consumer revolt or some very enlightened governance, it will never happen. In fact, we are sliding the other way.

Kenneth Matinale said...

Cablevision does not require SSN if you pay full price, which no new customer does. That confirms that at least one of the companies in this duopoly pressures customers for SSN. It's amazing that this is allowed, especially in a duopoly or even worse a monopoly.

SteveFL said...

We should be arguing for the death of monopolies or duopolies. Then consumer pressure can have some effect. One of the most egregious examples is the laws that some states passed, at the behest of the local cable company, to make it illegal for local governments to create their own Internet service. The state disallows the cities from implementing a solution to a problem. That is incredible. And the fact that citizens don't seem to care is even more incredible.