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Frequently Asked Questions about Telephone, Broadband, and Cable Service during COVID-19

Telecommunications companies have made certain commitments to keep Massachusetts residents connected during the COVID-19 crisis through the “Keep Americans Connected Pledge.” Service providers are not shutting off service, may forgo late fees, and established or expanded payment plans to help customers stay connected with less debt.

Because each company is different, we asked Massachusetts’ major telecommunications providers how they are helping customers in these difficult times. Below, we answer some basic questions about the help these companies are offering and provide links to each company's answers to a standard set of questions about their COVID-19 assistance policies.  When in doubt, or if you cannot find an answer to your questions, do not hesitate to proactively contact your providers to get the information or help that you need. Keep a record of the dates and times you contact your provider and the answers you receive. Read on below for more details on your rights and contact the AGO’s Consumer Hotline at 617-727-8400 if you have trouble reaching your service provider

 

Table of Contents

How can I keep my telephone, broadband, or cable from being shut off?

Most telecommunications companies signed the “Keep Americans Connected Pledge” with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). By joining the FCC Pledge, these companies promise NOT to terminate telephone and broadband service of customers unable to pay due to disruptions caused by COVID-19 before mid-May. Each company may implement the FCC Pledge differently and many extended these programs through June. Check below to see if your provider explained its shut-off policy in response to our standard FAQs. You can proactively contact your provider to request this protection. When you contact your provider’s representative, tell him or her that, due to COVID-19, your financial circumstances have changed and that you require assistance. Bear in mind that the FCC Pledge does not specifically cover cable service, so be sure to talk to your provider about any protections or programs that it offers for cable service.

Do I have to pay late fees if I can't afford to pay my full pay on time?

Some providers may not waive your late fees unless you request a waiver. Check below to see if your provider explained its late-fee policy in response to our standard FAQs. To ensure this protection, proactively contact your provider to request this protection.  When you contact your provider’s representative, tell him or her that, due to COVID-19, your financial circumstances have changed and that you require assistance. Bear in mind that the FCC Pledge does not specifically cover cable service, so be sure to talk to your provider about any protections or programs that it offers for cable service.

What can I do now to retain my service and keep my bills manageable for the future?

You should contact your service provider now and speak with a customer service representative to discuss the options available to help you manage your bill payments. You should also request that late fees be waived and ask about how you can adjust your service plan or set up a more manageable payment plan to minimize debt from accruing on your account. Some companies have established special plans or programs to help their customers retain service, reduce their bills, and plan for the future. Check below to see if your provider explained its COVID-19 plans or programs in response to our standard FAQs. When you contact your provider’s representative, tell him or her that, due to COVID-19, your financial circumstances have changed and that you require assistance. Bear in mind that the FCC Pledge does not specifically cover cable service, so be sure to talk to your provider about any protections or programs that it offers for cable service.

Can I request these protections online?

Most companies now have online forms to submit for this assistance. Check below to see if your provider explained the best way to request assistance in response to our standard FAQs.

Do I still have to pay my bill if my service won't be shut off?

Service providers are not providing free telephone or broadband service. You are still responsible for paying for the services that you use.

Try and pay your bills for as long as you are able.  The more you pay now the less you will have to make up later. If you are struggling to pay your telephone, broadband, or cable bills and you think you will fall behind, reach out to your service provider before you miss a payment. This will decrease the chance that missed payments will affect your credit score. Your service provider’s relief program may allow customers to reduce what is owed or create payment plans for unpaid bills. Check below to see if your provider explained any assistance programs in response to our standard FAQs, and check directly with your service provider to see what programs it offers.   

My telephone or broadband service has been shut off! What can I do to get reconnected?

If your telephone or broadband service has been shut off during this crisis, contact your service provider as soon as possible to get reconnected. If you are not immediately reconnected, please contact the AGO’s Consumer Advocacy Response Division by filing a consumer complaint with the Attorney General’s Consumer Advocacy and Response Division or by calling our hotline at 617-727-8400.

What should I do if I have a question that is not answered here?

Contact your service provider and ask them the questions you need answered directly. If your service provider refuses to answer your questions, please let us know by filing a consumer complaint with the Attorney General’s Consumer Advocacy and Response Division or by calling our hotline at 617-727-8400.

Provider Responses to Questions About COVID-19 Assistance Policies

Below are responses to the Attorney General's Office's questions about COVID-19 assistance policy. Responses will be added to this page as they are received. 

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