Chaparro & Chiaravalloti Bill to Help Domestic Violence Opt-Out of Multi-Bundle Telephone and Television Contracts Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Annette Chaparro and Nicholas Chiaravalloti to allow domestic violence victims to cancel television and telephone service contracts without paying early termination fee was approved by an Assembly panel on Thursday.

“Victims of domestic violence that are under contract with their abuser including but not limited to a multi-year of bundle contract offered by a local exchange telephone corporation or cable television company should be able to break their contract without penalty,” said Chaparro (D-Hudson). “These multi-bundle plans are iron-clad agreements by design but to anyone in a situation that threatens their security these agreements feel more like traps with monetary penalties.”

The bill (A-4280) provides that a cable television company, local exchange telephone company, or provider of direct broadcast satellite service providing television and telecommunications service to allow a residential customer who is a victim of domestic violence and is under a bundle contract or multi-year contract, to cancel the contract without paying an early termination fee or other similar charge.

“This legislation aims to make it easier for domestic violence victims to pick up and move when it is necessary, especially when it depends on their safety,” said Chiaravalloti (D-Hudson). “There must be an opt-out clause for special circumstances such as the necessary and immediate relocation of a domestic violence victim.”

The bill requires a customer who is victim of domestic violence to request the contract cancellation in writing and submit, within one year of the request, documentation proving that the customer is a victim of domestic violence restraining order issues in the state or a copy of a permanent domestic violence restraining order from another jurisdiction issued pursuant to the jurisdiction’s laws concerning domestic violence.

A request for opting-out of the contract without charge is to be made in good faith. These service providers are to waive the otherwise applicable charges for the residential customer requesting to opt-out of the contract as of the date these service providers receive the request.

The Assembly Telecommunication and Utilities Committee released the bill; and it now heads to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.