Cable, phone, internet companies waive fees, offer rebates for Irma victims

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TAMPA, Fla. -- A number of internet, cable and service providers will offer a bit of financial relief to thousands of their customers in the path of Hurricane Irma.

The decision by several providers to waive late fees and offer rebates came as one lawmaker began a push for similar action.

“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,” US. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Florida) wrote Thursday in a letter the heads of nine of the nation’s largest internet, phone and cable companies.”

Nelson asked that victims of Irma be given rebates for service interruptions and for a 60-day moratorium on late fees and other penalties.

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According to data released Wednesday by the FCC, at least 8.1 million cable and cellphone subscribers in Alabama, Florida and Georgia were without service after Irma made landfall near Naples on Sunday. Eighteen percent of cell sites in Florida were also out of service, according to the FCC.

Nelson’s letter was sent to AT&T, CenturyLink, Charter Communications, Comcast, Cox Enterprises, Frontier Communications, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.

- AT&T said it had already decided to issue credits, waive fees and extend payment dates for those the storm affected.

- CenturyLink said it was “evaluating the services we will make available to our customers to assist them during this time.”

- Charter Communications said it is “working with customers to provide appropriate credits” and suspended collections in affected areas. The company also said it will not charge customers for any equipment damaged in the storm.

- Cox, whose coverage area in Florida includes parts of Alachua and Marion counties said it will handle billing issues on a case-by-base basis. Other customers can call Cox to have their accounts reviewed and is offering people the option of temporarily suspending their service for up to nine month if they suffered storm damage.

- Frontier said it will work with customers on a case-by-case basis if they call 1-800-921-8101 for residential services or 1-800-921-8102 for business services.

- Sprint said it will waive all text, call and data overage fees for those in Florida who have Sprint, BoostMobile and Virgin services through Sept. 15 and will “continue to evaluate if any other offers are needed to provide relief to our customers in the coming days.”

- T-Mobile said only that it is “working hard to restore service there (in Florida) and will continue to work with impacted customers.”

- Verizon said its customers in the storm’s path were able to talk and text for free and could use data services with no overage fees during the storm and in its aftermath, as well as waiving late fees for those in Florida.

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