(a) A cable franchise authority may enforce the customer service standards set forth in paragraph (c) of this section against cable operators. The franchise authority must provide affected cable operators ninety (90) days written notice of its intent to enforce the standards.
(b) Nothing in this rule should be construed to prevent or prohibit:
(1) A franchising authority and a cable operator from agreeing to customer service requirements that exceed the standards set forth in paragraph (c) of this section;
(2) A franchising authority from enforcing, through the end of the franchise term, pre-existing customer service requirements that exceed the standards set forth in paragraph (c) of this section and are contained in current franchise agreements;
(3) Any State or any franchising authority from enacting or enforcing any consumer protection law, to the extent not specifically preempted herein; or
(4) The establishment or enforcement of any State or municipal law or regulation concerning customer service that imposes customer service requirements that exceed, or address matters not addressed by the standards set forth in paragraph (c) of this section.
(c) Cable operators are subject to the following customer service standards:
(1) Cable system office hours and telephone availability -
(i) The cable operator will maintain a local, toll-free or collect call telephone access line which will be available to its subscribers 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
(A) Trained company representatives will be available to respond to customer telephone inquiries during normal business hours.
(B) After normal business hours, the access line may be answered by a service or an automated response system, including an answering machine. Inquiries received after normal business hours must be responded to by a trained company representative on the next business day.
(ii) Under normal operating conditions, telephone answer time by a customer representative, including wait time, shall not exceed thirty (30) seconds when the connection is made. If the call needs to be transferred, transfer time shall not exceed thirty (30) seconds. These standards shall be met no less than ninety (90) percent of the time under normal operating conditions, measured on a quarterly basis.
(iii) The operator will not be required to acquire equipment or perform surveys to measure compliance with the telephone answering standards above unless an historical record of complaints indicates a clear failure to comply.
(iv) Under normal operating conditions, the customer will receive a busy signal less than three (3) percent of the time.
(v) Customer service center and bill payment locations will be open at least during normal business hours and will be conveniently located.
(2) Installations, outages and service calls. Under normal operating conditions, each of the following four standards will be met no less than ninety five (95) percent of the time measured on a quarterly basis:
(i) Standard installations will be performed within seven (7) business days after an order has been placed. “Standard” installations are those that are located up to 125 feet from the existing distribution system.
(ii) Excluding conditions beyond the control of the operator, the cable operator will begin working on “service interruptions” promptly and in no event later than 24 hours after the interruption becomes known. The cable operator must begin actions to correct other service problems the next business day after notification of the service problem.
(iii) The “appointment window” alternatives for installations, service calls, and other installation activities will be either a specific time or, at maximum, a four-hour time block during normal business hours. (The operator may schedule service calls and other installation activities outside of normal business hours for the express convenience of the customer.)
(iv) An operator may not cancel an appointment with a customer after the close of business on the business day prior to the scheduled appointment.
(v) If a cable operator representative is running late for an appointment with a customer and will not be able to keep the appointment as scheduled, the customer will be contacted. The appointment will be rescheduled, as necessary, at a time which is convenient for the customer.
(3) Communications between cable operators and cable subscribers -
(i) Refunds - Refund checks will be issued promptly, but no later than either -
(A) The customer's next billing cycle following resolution of the request or thirty (30) days, whichever is earlier, or
(B) The return of the equipment supplied by the cable operator if service is terminated.
(ii) Credits - Credits for service will be issued no later than the customer's next billing cycle following the determination that a credit is warranted.
(4) Definitions -
(i) Normal business hours - The term “normal business hours” means those hours during which most similar businesses in the community are open to serve customers. In all cases, “normal business hours” must include some evening hours at least one night per week and/or some weekend hours.
(ii) Normal operating conditions - The term “normal operating conditions” means those service conditions which are within the control of the cable operator. Those conditions which are not within the control of the cable operator include, but are not limited to, natural disasters, civil disturbances, power outages, telephone network outages, and severe or unusual weather conditions. Those conditions which are ordinarily within the control of the cable operator include, but are not limited to, special promotions, pay-per-view events, rate increases, regular peak or seasonal demand periods, and maintenance or upgrade of the cable system.
(iii) Service interruption - The term “service interruption” means the loss of picture or sound on one or more cable channels.
Section 76.1602 contains notification requirements for cable operators with regard to operator obligations to subscribers and general information to be provided to customers regarding service. Section 76.1603 contains subscriber notification requirements governing rate and service changes. Section 76.1619 contains notification requirements for cable operators with regard to subscriber bill information and operator response procedures pertaining to bill disputes.