The entities that operate as Suddenlink Communications have been sued in Oklahoma over their “ever-changing” customer contracts, which the lawsuit says allow Suddenlink to continue to provide persistently shoddy service while leaving consumers with no options to hold the company accountable.
The 56-page proposed class action says that Suddenlink’s enforcement of its “unconscionable self-contradicting adhesion contract” has prevented Oklahoma residents from enjoying the personal, educational and business benefits that come with reliable internet service.
“The same problems that plague West Virginia Suddenlink customers also plague Oklahoma Suddenlink customers,” the complaint claims, referencing a $2.4 million fine levied by the Public Service Commission of West Virginia against Suddenlink for its apparent failure to provide reliable service to subscribers.
According to the filing, the Public Service Commission of West Virginia found in February 2022 that although defendant Altice USA, when it acquired Suddenlink in 2015, painted a “rosy picture” with regard to its ability to provide consumers in the state with cable, telephone and high-speed broadband internet services, the company prioritized cutting costs and ramping-up profit over providing satisfactory service. Despite what Altice shared with the commission, the suit says, the company, according to the analysts, was aiming to save $215 million per year at Suddenlink.
By 2017, this goal was mostly achieved, yet the consequences for Oklahomans and West Virginians were “significant,” the case says, noting a sharp uptick in customer complaints that continued into at least 2021. Per the lawsuit, once Altice took over Suddenlink, it intentionally cut maintenance work and its maintenance budget, reduced staff, changed how it communicated with subscribers and “ignored” thousands of resulting customer complaints, among myriad other measures, to the detriment of consumers.
According to the case, the findings of the Public Service Commission of West Virginia apply to the problems experienced by Oklahoma Suddenlink customers.
More broadly, the lawsuit alleges Altice’s strategy is to purchase providers who operate in regions where there are few, if any, viable alternatives for phone, cable and internet service, and then “engage in severe cost-cutting that significantly reduces the quality of services offered.”
The suit goes on to say that although Suddenlink claims online to offer services “without a contract,” the company simultaneously locks customers into a one-sided and “unsigned, internet-posted, ever-changing, take-it-or-leave-it ‘agreement’” accessible through a “Terms & Policies” link on its website.
Per the case, Suddenlink’s “adhesion” contract imposes no liability on the company—including to provide the services and channels that customers have paid for—other than to issue refunds or credits at its own discretion.
“Suddenlink therefore has no liability under the Suddenlink adhesion contract, even if Suddenlink burned down a customer’s house,” the suit says.
The lawsuit looks to represent all consumers who were Suddenlink customers in Oklahoma at any time from January 1, 2016 to the present.
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