Chapter 763: Customer Service Standards for Cable Television Systems


Cross references

  • Tampering - see GEN. OFF. 541.04
  • Basic service rates and regulations - see BUS. REG. Ch. 761

763.01   Policy

  1. (a) The cable operator should be permitted the option and autonomy to first resolve citizen complaints without delay and interference from the franchising authority.

  2. (b) Where a given complaint is not addressed by the cable operator to the citizen’s satisfaction, the complaint officer should intervene as indicated in Section 763.03(g).

  3. (c) These standards are intended to be of general application; however, the cable operator shall be relieved of any obligations hereunder if it is unable to perform due to a region-wide natural emergency or in the event of a force majeure condition affecting a significant portion of the franchise area. The cable operator is free to exceed these standards to the benefit of its customers and such shall be considered performance for the purposes of these standards.
    (Ord. 2007-23. Passed 3-26-07.)

763.02   Definitions

  1. (a) 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 as indicated under Section 763.03(b).

  2. (b) 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, work stoppages, 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.

  3. (c) Service Interruption. Means the loss of picture or sound on one or more cable channels.
    (Ord. 2001-18. Passed 3-12-01.)

763.03   Customer service

  1. (a) Courtesy. All employees of the cable operator shall be courteous, knowledgeable and helpful and shall provide effective and satisfactory service in all contacts with customers.

  2. (b) Accessibility.

    1. (1) The cable operator shall maintain a local business office in a convenient location with a telephone listing for the purpose of offering the following services to customers who come to the local business office: bill payment, faulty equipment exchange, processing of change of service requests and response to customers’ inquiries. This local business office shall be open Monday through Friday (holidays excluded) from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Saturday. The cable operator shall also provide full exchanges of equipment at the customers’ premises. The cable operator may, with the express written permission of the Village, provide an alternate means to address customer inquiries, exchange faulty equipment, process change of service requests and provide for bill payment other than by the use of a local business office.

    2. (2) The cable operator shall maintain local or toll free telephone access lines that shall be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for service/repair requests and billing inquiries.

    3. (3) The cable operator shall have dispatchers and technicians on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including legal holidays. No extra charges shall be made to the subscriber for the availability of this service.

    4. (4) The cable operator shall retain sufficient customer service representatives and telephone line capacity to ensure that telephone calls to service/repair and billing inquiry lines are answered by a customer service representative within 30 seconds or less, and that any transfers are made within 30 seconds. These standards shall be met no less than 90% of the time measured quarterly.

  3. (c) Responsiveness.

    1. (1) Guaranteed seven-day residential installation.

      1. (A) The cable operator shall complete all standard customer installations requested by customers within seven business days after the order is placed, unless a later date for installation is requested. “Standard” customer installations are those located up to 150 feet from the existing distribution system. If the customer requests a nonstandard customer installation, or the cable operator determines that a nonstandard customer installation is required, the cable operator shall provide the customer in advance with a total installation cost estimate and an estimated date of completion.

      2. (B) All underground cable drops from the pedestal to the home shall be buried at a depth of no less than eight inches, and within no more than two calendar weeks (weather permitting) from the initial installation, or at a time mutually agreed upon between the cable operator and the customer.

    2. (2) Residential installation and service appointments.

      1. (A) Customers requesting installation of cable service or service to an existing installation may choose any of the following blocks of time for the installation appointment: 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 Noon; 12:00 Noon to 4:00 p.m.; 4: 00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.; or a four-hour block of time mutually agreed upon by the customer and the cable operator. The cable operator may not cancel an appointment with a customer after 5:00 p.m. on the day before the scheduled appointment, except for appointments scheduled within 12 hours after the initial call.

      2. (B) An operator may not cancel an appointment with a customer after the close of business on the business day prior to the scheduled appointment.

      3. (C) 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 and notified as soon as it is apparent that the appointment will be missed. The appointment will be rescheduled, as necessary, at a time which is convenient for the customer.

      4. (D) The cable operator shall be deemed to have responded to a request for service under the provisions of this section when a technician arrives within the agreed upon time and, if the customer is absent when the technician arrives, the technician leaves written notification of arrival, and a copy of that notification and the form or service log or otherwise is kept by the cable operator. In such circumstances, the cable operator shall attempt to contact the customer within 48 hours.

    3. (3) Residential service interruptions.

      1. (A) In the event of system outages (loss of reception on all channels) resulting from cable operator equipment failure affecting three or more customers, the cable operator shall respond to such failure within two hours after the 3rd customer call is received.

      2. (B) All other service interruptions resulting from cable operator equipment failure shall be corrected by the cable operator by the end of the next calendar day.

      3. (C) The cable operator shall keep an accurate and comprehensive file of any and all complaints regarding signal quality, service quality and interruptions or degradation of service experienced with respect to the cable system or its operation of the cable system as well as all written complaints to either the cable operator or the grantor from subscribers, in a manner consistent with the privacy rights of customers, and the cable operator’s actions in response to those complaints. These files shall be available to the franchising authority during normal business hours upon request.

      4. (D) All service outages and interruptions for any cause beyond the control of the cable operator shall be corrected within 36 hours, after the conditions beyond its control have been corrected.

    4. (4) TV reception.

      1. (A) The cable operator shall provide clear television reception that meets or exceeds technical standards established by the United States Federal Communications Commission (the “FCC”). The cable operator shall render efficient service, make repairs promptly, and interrupt service only for good cause and for the shortest time possible. Scheduled interruptions shall be preceded by notice and shall occur during periods of minimum use of the system, preferably between midnight and 6:00 a.m.

      2. (B) If a customer experiences poor video or audio reception attributable to the cable operator’s equipment, the cable operator shall repair the problem no later than the day following the customer call. If an appointment is necessary, customer may choose the same blocks of time described in Section 763.03(c)(2)A. At the customer’s request, the cable operator shall repair the problem at a later time convenient to the customer.

    5. (5) Treatment of property.

      1. (A) The cable operator shall keep trimming to a minimum; trees and shrubs or other landscaping that are damaged by the cable operator, or any employee or agent during installation or construction shall be restored to their prior condition or replaced. Trees and shrubs shall not be removed without the prior permission of the owner or legal tenant of the property on which they are located. This provision shall be in addition to, and shall not supersede, any requirement in any franchise agreement.

      2. (B) The cable operator shall, at its own cost and expense, and in a manner approved by the property owner and the franchising authority, restore any property to as good condition as before the work causing such disturbance was initiated. The cable operator shall repair, replace or compensate a property owner for any damage resulting from the cable operator’s installation, construction, service or repair activities.

      3. (C) Except in the case of an emergency involving public safety or service interruption to a large number of subscribers, the cable operator shall give reasonable notice to property owners or legal tenants prior to entering upon private premises, and the notice shall specify the work to be performed; provided that in the case of construction operations such notice shall be delivered or provided at least 24 hours prior to entry. Nothing herein shall be construed as authorizing access or entry to private property, or any other property, where such right to access or entry is not otherwise provided by law. If damage is caused by any cable operator activity, the cable operator shall reimburse the property owner 100% of the cost of the damage or replace the damaged property. For the installation of pedestals or other major construction or installation projects, property owners shall also be notified by mail or door hanger at least one week in advance. In the case of an emergency, the cable operator shall attempt to contact the property owner or legal tenant in person, and shall leave a door hanger notice in the event personal contact is not made.

      4. (D) The cable operator’s personnel shall clean all areas surrounding any work site and ensure that all cable materials have been disposed of properly.

  4. (d) Customer Information.

    1. (1) Upon installation, and at any time the customer may request, and the cable operator shall provide the following information in clear, concise written form:

      1. (A) Products and services offered by the cable operator, including its channel lineup;

      2. (B) The cable operator’s complete range of service options and the prices for these services;

      3. (C) Instruction on the use of cable TV service and on a standard VCR hookup;

      4. (D) The cable operator’s billing, collection and disconnection policies;

      5. (E) Customer privacy requirements;

      6. (F) All applicable complaint procedures, including complaint forms, if any, and the telephone numbers and mailing address of the cable operator, the FCC, and the franchising authority to whom the complaints should be addressed;

      7. (G) Use and availability of A/B switches;

      8. (H) Use and availability of parental control/lock out device;

      9. (I) Special services for customers with disabilities, if any; and

      10. (J) Days, times of operation and locations of service centers.

    2. (2) The cable operator shall provide customers with written notification of any change in rates, programming or channel positions, at least 30 days before the effective date of change.

    3. (3) Each customer service representative (CSR), technician or employee of the cable operator in each contact with a customer shall state the estimated cost of the service, repair or installation orally prior to delivery of the service or before any work is performed, and shall provide the customer with an oral statement of the total charges before terminating the telephone call or before leaving the location at which the work was performed.

  5. (e) Customer Privacy.

    1. (1) The cable operator shall not monitor cable television signals to determine the individual viewing patterns or practices of any customer without prior written consent from that customer, except as otherwise permitted by the applicable franchise or law.

    2. (2) The cable operator shall not sell or otherwise make available customer lists or other personally identifiable customer information without prior written customer consent, except as otherwise permitted by the franchise or applicable law. The cable operator is permitted to disclose such information if such disclosure is necessary to render, or conduct, a legitimate business activity related to a cable service or other service provided by the cable operator to its customers.

  6. (f) Billing.

    1. (1) Bills will be clear, concise and understandable. Bills must be fully itemized, with itemizations including, but not limited to, basic and premium service charges and equipment charges. Bills will also clearly delineate all activity during the billing period, including optional charges, rebates and credits.

    2. (2) In case of a billing dispute, the cable operator must respond to a written complaint from a subscriber within 30 days.

    3. (3) Refunds. Refund checks will be issued promptly, but no later than either:

      1. (A) The customer’s next billing cycle following resolution of the request or 30 days, whichever is earlier, or

      2. (B) The return of the equipment supplied by the cable operator if service is terminated.

    4. (4) Credits. Credits for service will be issued no later than the customer’s next billing cycle following the determination that a credit is warranted.

  7. (g) Complaint Procedures.

    1. (1) Any verbal, telephonic or written complaint relating to the quality or continuity of service shall be attended to within a normal service interval. In the event that such complaints are not responded to or service is not restored to the levels required by the FCC or by the terms of this chapter during said normal service interval, the subscriber shall be entitled to a rebate of his or her monthly service charge or an item of comparable value, whichever is greater, for the missed appointment. This provision shall not apply if such delay is occasioned because of an Act of God, strike, national emergency or any other circumstance beyond the control of the cable operator. Similarly, this provision shall not apply to service requests or complaints pertaining to television set malfunction or other breakdown not related to the operation of the cable television system. The Village Complaint Officer, provided for in subsection (g)(3) hereof, shall be responsible for invoking said penalty upon receiving written subscriber complaint. The Complaint Officer shall hold a hearing on such complaint to be conducted in the manner prescribed in and otherwise governed by subsection (g)(3) hereof.

    2. (2) The cable operator shall establish procedures for receiving, acting upon and resolving subscriber complaints. The cable operator shall furnish a notice of such procedures to each subscriber at the time of initial subscription to the system. In addition, the cable operator shall maintain a written record, printout, or “log”, listing date and time of customer complaints, identifying the subscriber, and describing the nature of the complaints and when and what action was taken by the cable operator in response thereto. Such records shall be kept for a period of three years at cable operator’s local office, reflecting the operations to date subject to applicable laws regarding subscriber privacy and shall be made available for inspection during regular business hours.

    3. (3) The Mayor or a designee shall serve as the Village Complaint Officer with primary responsibility for the continuing administration of complaint procedures hereunder. Any subscriber, user, programmer, or other interested person who has a complaint regarding the quality of cable television service, equipment malfunctions, billings or any other matter, which remains unsolved for 30 days after it has been brought to the cable operator’s attention, may file a complaint, in writing, with the Complaint Officer. Upon the filing of such a complaint, said Complaint Officer shall notify the cable operator and make an investigation to determine whether or not there is a probable cause to credit the allegations. If the Complaint Officer determines after such investigation that there is probable cause to credit the allegations of the complaint, the Complaint Officer shall notify the cable operator and complainant and promptly endeavor to resolve the matter by conciliation and persuasion.

      In the event that the Complaint Officer is unable to obtain conciliation within a reasonable time, the matter shall be promptly set for a hearing where all parties may give evidence and the merits of the dispute will be decided. The Complaint Officer shall make the decision public, along with a statement reciting the basis therefor. Within 30 days thereafter, either the cable operator or the complainant may appeal to the Council, in writing, the decision rendered by the Complaint Officer. At the appeal hearing, the aggrieved party may contest the findings of fact or interpretation of controlling law, at which time the Council may affirm, reject or modify the decision of the Complaint Officer. The affirmance, rejection or modification of said decision by the Council shall be final unless appealed by the grantee to a court of competent jurisdiction.

    4. (4) Where there have been similar complaints made, or when there exists other evidence which, in the judgment of the Complaint Officer, casts doubt on the reliability or quality of cable service, the Complaint Officer shall have the right and authority to compel the cable operator to test, analyze and report on the performance of the system. Such report shall be delivered to the Complaint Officer no later than 14 days after said Officer formally notifies the cable operator and shall include the following information: the nature of the complaints which precipitated the special tests; what system component(s) was tested, the equipment used, and procedures employed in resolving said complaints, if applicable; and any and all additional information deemed relevant by the Complaint Officer.

    5. (5) Said tests and analysis shall be supervised by a qualified engineer not on the permanent staff of the cable operator and selected by the Village. The aforesaid engineer shall sign all records of special tests and forward to the Complaint Officer such records with a report interpreting the results of the test and recommending action to be taken by the Village.

    6. (6) The cable operator shall notify each subscriber at the time of initial installation of the name and address of the Village Complaint Officer and of the procedures contained in this section.
      (Ord. 2001-18. Passed 3-12-01.)

763.04   Customer dissatisfaction with any service

Any customer who requests disconnection of cable service or any particular programming service previously ordered shall have disconnection effective on the day such request is made. The customer will not be charged thereafter for any service disconnected and, in the case of a service for which the customer has prepaid, the customer shall promptly be provided a credit for or sent a refund of the unused portion of the prepaid amount.
(Ord. 2001-18. Passed 3-12-01.)

763.05   Safety

The cable operator shall install and locate its facilities, cable system and equipment in compliance with all federal, state, local and company safety standards, and in such manner as shall not unduly interfere with or endanger persons or property. Whenever the cable operator receives notice that an unsafe condition exists with respect to its equipment, the cable operator shall investigate such condition immediately and shall take such measures as are necessary to remove or eliminate any unsafe condition.
(Ord. 2001-18. Passed 3-12-01.)

763.99   Penalty

Should it be found that after conducting the hearing and appeal procedure provided in this chapter, that the cable operator is in violation of the terms of the service standards, the penalties chargeable shall be as outlined and limited in Section 19 of the Franchise Agreement.
(Ord. 2001-18. Passed 3-12-01.)