Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable Inc. and Cox Communications Inc., the three largest U.S. cable providers, joined Cablevision Systems Corp. in offering credits to customers who lost service because of Hurricane Sandy.
The four companies will give the credits to customers even if the outage was the result of a power failure, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox and Cablevision said separately today. DirecTV and Dish Network Corp., the two largest U.S. satellite-TV providers, and Verizon Communications Inc.’s FiOS TV service adopted similar policies.
“Many of our customers have been severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy,” Kristin Dolan, Cablevision’s senior executive vice president of product management and marketing, said in a statement. “In addition, customers will not be responsible for any damage to Cablevision equipment caused by the storm, and will be able to exchange damaged equipment at no cost.”
Cablevision, the fifth-largest cable company, was first to announce the offering earlier today. Customers can call within 30 days of their service being restored to request the credit, the Bethpage, New York-based company said. The majority of its 3.3 million customers reside in the New York market, including Long Island, which was devastated by the storm.
The company said today that about 1.32 million subscribers can’t connect to its service due to power outages.
Cablevision may lose as much as $40 million on storm-related costs, Tom Eagan, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity Corp. in New York, said in a note to clients. Altogether, the storm will cost telephone and cable companies as much as $600 million in repair and cleanup expenses, according to James Ratcliffe, a New York-based analyst with Barclays Plc.
Not everyone is offering credits to Sandy victims. AT&T Inc.’s U-verse, which provides television service to parts of the Northeast, hasn’t announced plans to offer service credits. Verizon Wireless, Verizon’s mobile-phone carrier, plans to suspend late fees and not disconnect services due to late payments during the storm recovery period, according to Thomas Pica, a spokesman.
Time Warner Cable, which services much of Manhattan, has about 12.5 million U.S. video customers in total. The New York-based company hasn’t decided whether it will provide the credits automatically or upon request, said Alex Dudley, a spokesman.
Comcast is the largest cable company in the U.S., though it doesn’t serve New York City. Its coverage includes New Jersey, one of the hardest-hit areas in the storm. About half of that state lost power in the wake of Sandy, which struck on Oct. 29.
“Our hearts go out to our customers impacted by the storm, and we want to do everything we can to make things even a little easier as they go through this difficult time,” said Jenni Moyer, a spokeswoman for Philadelphia-based Comcast. “Customers can contact us and identify the time period during which they did not have access to Comcast services to receive a credit. We will work with each customer who contacts us so we can be sensitive to their specific needs and circumstances.”