NY AG Opens Inquiry After Charter Spectrum Bungles Its Coronavirus Response

from the monopolizing-stupidity dept

By and large, most major ISPs have handled the labor angle of COVID-19 relatively well, with giants like Comcast and AT&T offered hazard pay, and Verizon slowing new broadband, phone, and TV installations altogether.

Charter, which sells broadband, TV, and phone service under the Spectrum brand, has been a different story entirely. The nation's second biggest cable company is now facing an inquiry by New York's Attorney General after several weeks of bad press highlighting how the company wasn't giving its employees hazard pay or adequate protective gear (many got $25 gift cards to closed restaurants instead), wouldn't let many employees work from home even if it was easy, and even forced people to continue to work in buildings where co-workers tested positive for the virus.

With some 250 Charter employees now sick, New York's Attorney General has opened an inquiry into the company's bungled response:

"The company’s stance on working remotely became the subject of internal debate on March 13, when Nick Wheeler, an engineer in Denver, sent an email to hundreds of colleagues and a senior vice president with the subject line “Coronavirus — Why are we still in the office?”

“Coming into the office now is pointlessly reckless,” wrote Mr. Wheeler, who provided a copy of the email to The New York Times. “Charter, like the rest of us, should do what is necessary to help reduce the spread of coronavirus."

While Charter has since buckled on some of its more stubborn policies, it required weeks of employees leaking to any news outlet that would listen about the company's failure to adequately protect them. Employees are still pissed, and still say the company isn't doing enough to protect its workers (and by proxy many of the communities and customers they serve):

"But even in cases where multiple employees have confirmed testing positive for the virus, which has killed more than 175,000 people worldwide, Spectrum’s call centers and storefronts have kept their doors open, serving as potential hotspots for exposure. While Charter has allowed some workers, in certain circumstances, to temporarily work from home, its pandemic response has largely focused sanitizing its workspaces after hours. Employees fear that this is doing too little to shield them from the disease or prevent them from giving it to customers, whose equipment they handle and whose homes they enter daily."

None of this should be surprising given that Charter literally has one of the lowest customer satisfaction ratings of any company in industry in America (think about that accomplishment for a moment). Big ISPs don't handle disasters very well, as evident by the way cable giants routinely hassle wildfire victims over their cable boxes after having just lost everything. They're not flexible, creative, or adaptive companies, because as government-pampered monopolies in regions with no competition or oversight, there's absolutely no incentive to be.

Speaking of no oversight, the FCC hasn't issued so much as a peep about the company's Keystone-cops-esque approach to handling the pandemic. Nor has the agency had a single word to say about the fact that Charter has been kicking struggling customers offline during the crisis, despite very clearly promising not to as part of a highly theatrical, temporary, and entirely voluntary PR stunt heavily hyped by the agency to give the illusion it was actually helping.

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Filed Under: covid-19, employees, hazard pay, new york
Companies: charter

Reader Comments

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  • identicon
    AndreaIravani, 24 Apr 2020 @ 8:31am

    Why are people and John Kiriakou, Brian Becker, and Walter Smolernik on Sputnik claiming that the factory workers that voluntarly agreed to work 12 hour shifts and sleep and eat in a factory without leaving for a month are heroes? 

    No! You are not heroes! You are morons! 

    Why would you need to sleep and eat there? Why would you need to work twelve hour shifts while so many are unemployed?

    Kiriakou, Becker, and Smolerik have been exposed for the slave traders that they truly are, disguised as pro-labor humanitarians! Not pro-labor! Pro-slavery!

    Does Mitt Romney own this factory?!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    danderbandit (profile), 24 Apr 2020 @ 9:04am

    Spectrum is Laughable

    I'm soooooo glad I am not forced to go with Spectrum as an ISP.
    It's laughable how ridiculous their commercials are - how they are just the best possible provider out there. When in reality, most of us only have a choice between a wired or wireless provider. So why bother with all the advertising?
    I'm lucky we have access to a wireless provider, microwave not satellite, with a decent rate and no cap. Hardly any issues with them at all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Annonymouse, 24 Apr 2020 @ 10:51am

    So how soon are we going to see massive personal fines and executives being hauled off to jail?

    Oh right. This is the states where they still operate on the gold standard. Those who have the gold make the standards.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Apr 2020 @ 11:55am


      I'm wondering why we didn't see the government forcing them to close in the first place, like they do so many other businesses. Oh wait, I forgot sometimes they do this selectively.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John, 3 May 2020 @ 7:56pm

    Stay at home is so stupid

    Stay at Home is laughable. Shutting down jobs is so stupid.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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