Altice USA, Inc., who does business as Suddenlink Communications, faces a proposed class action that challenges its allegedly unlawful $1.00 “Convenience Fee” for paper billing.
According to the case out of West Virginia, Suddenlink’s practice of charging $1.00 per month to customers who elect to receive paper billing statements instead of “paperless” statements “preys upon those who do not have the means to access electronic bills or the practical understanding to navigate such technology.”
The 11-page lawsuit claims Suddenlink’s convenience fee is “a collection fee in disguise” and violates the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act, a law that prohibits entities from increasing the balance owed on an account by adding a collector’s fee or charge for services rendered.
The plaintiff, a 67-year-old Buckhannon, West Virginia resident, says Cablevision Systems Corporation and Cebridge Connections were his cable and telephone service providers until 2016, when they were acquired by Altice and rebranded as Suddenlink. Per the case, Suddenlink in mid-2016 began charging customers a $1.00 fee each month to receive paper billing statements “even though they had received paper bills free previously.”
The lawsuit alleges Suddenlink’s monthly billing statements were an effort to collect on a claim purportedly owed by its customers and that the convenience fee therefore constitutes an unlawful debt collection fee or charge for services rendered. Per the suit, the “convenience fee” is no more than a predatory collection charge.
“The ‘Convenience Fee’ is a collection fee in disguise to prey upon those who do not have internet access or do not have the desire to navigate the technology and an effort by Suddenlink to pad its profits,” the complaint attests.
The plaintiff says he sent a certified letter to Suddenlink in September 2020 in an effort to “ascertain precisely what is owed” and dispute the convenience fee. Per the suit, Suddenlink responded “but failed to rectify its illegal ‘Convenience Fee’ debt collection charges.”
The lawsuit looks to represent West Virginia residents who, within the past four years, were billed by Suddenlink or paid to the defendant a monthly $1.00 convenience fee to receive a paper billing statement.
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