Spectrum will now allow families with old debts to sign up for its free 60-day service, according to the mayor’s office and a Manhattan councilwoman. Optimum had reversed a similar policy, Chalkbeat previously reported.
A spokesperson for Spectrum confirmed after this story was initially published that the company will now allow New Yorkers with outstanding balances to access the free 60-day offer. They did not immediately say when the change will go into effect.
.@NYCMayor was very troubled by this when @AGZimmerman raised it. Our team immediately reached out to Spectrum. We’ve very happy they’ve agreed to reverse course & end unnecessary barriers to internet for our students in need. //t.co/2pdAWTfAuz
nginxMarch 27, 2020
Chalkbeat initially reported on the issue last week,
De Blasio had not learned about the issue before Thursday, Goldstein said in an email. But parent leaders, teachers, and elected officials had complained about the problem for weeks.
Rivera, who represents the Lower East Side, said she had been asking the company to reverse its policy since mid-March. She had also sent a similar plea to Altice USA, the company that oversees Optimum.
About a dozen families told Rivera that they couldn’t access the 60-day offer because of old debts, she said. As she made calls, she also encouraged some families to do the same so Spectrum could hear their stories.
“We were really worried about the impact that this policy was having on our families, especially when so many of them were already struggling at home,” Rivera told Chalkbeat Friday morning.
“We appealed directly to these larger companies letting them know that at a time of crisis, we felt that essentially poverty was being punished,” she continued. “An outstanding bill should not prevent a student from being able to learn.”
The company’s change was good news for Harlem mother Charlesetta Brown, who has been trying to get her apartment equipped with Spectrum’s service since last week. A company representative told her she didn’t qualify because she owed them $309 from 2014.
“I am definitely gonna call them Monday morning,” Brown said Friday, after learning the company has decided to change their policy.
“That’s how my son managed to get some work done yesterday,” Brown said. “He missed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, so we’re trying to catch up.”