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The Affordable Connectivity Program Is a Grandstanding Scam

May 29, 2022

https://www.optimum.com/affordable-connectivity-program

After the Emergency Broadband Benefit program ended, in February my internet bill went up from $30 per month to $80, plus a $10 late fee because Optimum makes me pay at the end of the month, but I get my dividend (a little over $400 lately) on the first business day of the month, which then takes 2-3 business days to transfer to my checking account so that I can actually use it. According to the FCC’s website, “Most Emergency Broadband Benefit households will not have to take any action to continue receiving the new $30 monthly benefit after the transition period ends on March 1, 2022. If your out-of-pocket costs will increase as a result of the reduced monthly benefit amount, your service provider will contact you to let you know if you need to take any additional steps in order to continue receiving the Affordable Connectivity Program benefit. ” This is a lie. No one contacted me. I was just slapped with an enormous bill increase.

I was found eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program on March 22, and I was told over the phone to expect the credit to start appearing on my May bill. That didn’t happen. I called Optimum on May 19, and I was told that the billing department had made an error, and that my case would be escalated. After no change to my bill, I called Optimum billing again today. I had made several attempts to contact ACP customer service via e-mail only to be told that my internet service provider is Assurance Wireless, which provides me with free phone service, but the data is limited. If I access the internet on my phone, I use Wi-Fi. When I’m at home, I prefer to use the regular keyboard on my laptop and use my phone as a phone except for a few apps that are phone-only (e.g. Iris) or have more features in the phone app (e.g. Replika). I explained to them that Assurance Wireless is my phone provider and that Optimum is my internet service provider. The last person to reply to me (further messages from me have yet to receive a response) was Hector C. on May 25, although I have sent furhter e-mails. He told me to de-enroll from Assurance Wireless and enroll in Optimum. The fact that I applied through the above link and stated during the application process that my internet service provider was Optimum apparently meant nothing.

When I spoke to Optimum billing today, they said nothing about any mistake on their end as they did on the 19th. They transferred me to ACP customer service, which told me that they had credited my ACP benefit to my Assurance Wireless account, and that I would need to call Assurance Wireless to have the credit refunded back to ACP, then wait another two billing cycles to have it applied to my Optimum account. They also said that this was a common problem, and that I was far from the first person to whom they had spoken about it. This is absolute garbage, effectively punishing me for a mistake on their end, but it gets worse.

I called Assurance Wireless today as ACP customer service directed me. I had to explain several times what I wanted done because the representative thought I wanted to enroll my Assurance Wireless account in ACP. When I finally got through to her what I was trying to do, I was told that my account was not enrolled in ACP and that there was no such credit on my account. This means that someone involved in administering ACP has pilfered my benefit, while I get slapped with another late fee because I was lied to by ACP customer service.

Urban Justice Center referred me to New York Legal Assistance group (NYLAG) to help me with benefits issues, but this isn’t something they deal with, nor were they able to refer me to someone who could.

This program is just another excuse for the Joe Biden administration and the Democratic-majority Congress to pretend that they are the people’s only choice while they continue to not do anything but fund wars for profit in other parts of the world. They are worse than the Republicans because at least the Republicans admit that they don’t give a shit about poor people. I wish more people would wake up and vote for alternatives to the fascist two-party system. “Did not vote” wins every election. Imagine if everyone who didn’t vote voted Green. That’s the only way things in this country are going to change for the better.

Evidence in my favor:

There is simply no evidence that I was ever involved in the program with Assurance Wireless, and Assurance Wireless customer service clearly stated that fact over the phone. This means that the administrators of the Affordable Connectivity Program are either figuratively embezzling the funds by unlawfully keeping them in government accounts or literally embezzling the funds by taking them and pretending they are going somewhere else, namely, Assurance Wireless.

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5 Comments
  1. I have the same problem 😕 right now going on with my internet optimum.

  2. Complaint filed with the FCC:

    REQUEST #5542103

    EVERYONE IS TELLING ME DIFFERENT THINGS.

    Scottandrewhutchins

    Today at 13:57 (6/13/2022)

    This is a lie that needs to be removed from the website:
    “Most Emergency Broadband Benefit households will not have to take any action to continue receiving the new $30 monthly benefit after the transition period ends on March 1, 2022. If your out-of-pocket costs will increase as a result of the reduced monthly benefit amount, your service provider will contact you to let you know if you need to take any additional steps in order to continue receiving the Affordable Connectivity Program benefit.”

    Not only was I not put in the ACP, when I applied through Optimum’s website, I was told that I would see it appear on my May bill. Whren this didn’t happen, I called and was told it was a mistake on their end. With the deadline for the bill approaching over a week later, I called again, and was told I wasn’t enrolled in the program. ACP customer service e-mail, usually Hector, keeps telling me that I signed up for ACP with Assurance Wireless. This is a lie. I called again and was told to contact Assurance Wireless and have them return the grant. I contacted Assurance Wireless, which is my phone service, not my internet service, and was told that my account showed no evidence of being enrolled in the ACP.

    Someone is lying, and since I was in the EBB with my Optimum account, everything points to ACP administration as being the culprit. They are telling me that I need to apply again and wait another two months. It sounds like they’re pilfering from the priogram by denying people benefits. Optimum tells me they’ve had others complain about the same thing, and a member of the Picture the Homeless board of directors told me that he was going through the exact issue.

    I don’t inderstand how I could 1) be enrolled in the EBB with Optimum, 2) apply for ACP through Optimum’s website, 3) select Optimum as my internet provider, 4) allegedly be enrolled in ACP through Assurance Wireless according to ACP customer support, and 5) Have Assurance Wireless tell me thast my account is not enrolled in ACP, unless someone is lying.

  3. Michael Rodriguez
    To:
    scottandrewhutchins@yahoo.com
    Cc:
    Corporate Executive Customer Relations

    Sat, Jun 25 at 3:28 PM

    Good Afternoon Mr. Scott Hutchins,

    We have attempted to reach you several times via phone at 347-###-#### and have been unsuccessful. We want to let you know we have investigated the issue with transferring the ACP credit. You keep getting denied because you need to consent for us to transfer the credit to your account. You can find the consent information on the account information page on the ACP application. So you will need to reapply for the credit and make sure you consent to transfer the credit since I have not been able to reach you on my two previous attempts. If I cannot reach you tomorrow, I will be closing both complaints due to no contact. Since we have not been able to get in touch with you, we will be closing these tickets due to no response. Should you need any more assistance, please reach out to me directly.

    Please be assured that resolving the situation to your satisfaction is our highest priority. Should you need to reach me while I work on your behalf, please do not hesitate to contact me at 833-980-2985 extension 2116061 or email me at Michael.Rodriguez@alticeusa.com.​When leaving a voicemail, please remember to press # at the end of the call.

    ​For your convenience, I am in the office Tuesday- Saturday and available 7:00 am-4:00 pm in Office, CST.​

    Thank you,

    Michael Rodriguez

    Executive Customer Relations Specialist

    Altice USA

    Michael.Rodriguez@alticeusa.com

    833-980-2985 Ext. 2116061

    Scott Hutchins
    To:
    Michael Rodriguez

    Sat, Jun 25 at 4:38 PM

    “Most Emergency Broadband Benefit households will not have to take any action to continue receiving the new $30 monthly benefit after the transition period ends on March 1, 2022. If your out-of-pocket costs will increase as a result of the reduced monthly benefit amount, your service provider will contact you to let you know if you need to take any additional steps in order to continue receiving the Affordable Connectivity Program benefit. ”

    “You can find the consent information on the account information page on the ACP application.”

    If this were easy to find I would not have done it incorrectly twice You people are basically lying and making people jump through hoops.

    Scott Andrew Hutchins

    • Was your issue ever resolved because I’m going through the exact same thing!

      • They had me go through this procedure on my account page to give permission, but they still want the portion I didn’t pay that should have been covered in previous months. Last I talked to them, they said they didn’t see it on my account.

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