Sen. Nelson to firms: Waive late fees, issue rebates for Irma victims


Sen. Bill Nelson is asking the CEOs of America’s largest cell and internet providers to waive late fees and issue rebates for victims of Hurricane Irma.

“As we begin the recovery process, it’s important that consumers not be saddled with late fees and other unnecessary costs — particularly those without the means to deal with such costs,” Nelson’s letter states. “Therefore, I ask that you provide a 60-day moratorium on late fees, interest accrual, penalties and any other unnecessary costs, to give people time to recover and get back on their feet.

Cell towers in Palm Beach County: One-fourth still inoperable

“I also would request that your companies provide rebates or credits to your subscribers for any interruption in voice, video, or internet service that occurred due to Hurricane Irma,” the Florida Democrat wrote.

The letter was sent to the chief executives of AT&T, CenturyLink, Charter Communications, Comcast, Cox Enterprises, Frontier Communications, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon. Cox Enterprises is affiliated with Cox Media Group, the parent company of The Palm Beach Post.

So far, none of the companies have said they would both waive late fees and issue rebates for customers.

Verizon said it already was waiving late fees. AT&T said it was extending payment dates through Sept. 17.

Both companies, plus Sprint and T-Mobile, also are waiving caps on data, texting and calls for Florida customers as the companies try to restore service to millions. On Tuesday, Nelson and Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, asked FEMA to help the companies get back online.

Comcast did not respond to a request for comment. Cox spokesman Todd Smith said in an email that the company “always works with customers on a case-by-case basis to address their needs and concerns” after natural disasters.

“In some cases, that includes proactive credits,” he said.

The interruptions, much of which can be blamed on epic power outages throughout the state, have been much worse than Houston recently experienced during Hurricane Harvey.

As of Wednesday, 18 percent of Florida’s cell towers were out, according to the Federal Communications Commission. In Palm Beach County, 24 percent were out.



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