Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Annette Quijano and Assemblyman Charles Mainor to protect consumers from unexpected utility or cable television charges was approved by an Assembly panel on Monday.
The bill (A-1072) directs the Board of Public Utilities to prohibit any telecommunications company, electric public utility, gas public utility or cable television company from charging a credit card customer or direct debit customer for service prior to the actual billing due date that would apply if the customer were to pay by cash, money order or personal check.
“Consumers often voice their concerns regarding their unexpected and unnecessary problems they have with their bank account and bill payments due to money being taken out of their account before the due date,” said Quijano (D-Union). “This bill will halt this practice and make sure all consumers are treated equally, regardless of how they choose to pay their bill.”
“People have a right to expect utility and cable companies won’t be taking money out of their account early without notice,” said Mainor (D-Hudson). “Not everyone is fortunate enough to have so much money that it doesn’t matter. Many people are struggling to make ends meet and deserve this certainty.”
The bill allows utility and cable companies to take money early only if the customer expressly agrees in writing to be charged for service on an earlier date; or the customer makes such a request to the company or utility by telephone or by other means approved by the BPU.
The bill was approved by the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee and now awaits consideration by the full Assembly.