On July 10, 2020, putative class claims were filed in New Jersey federal court against RCN Telecom Services LLC (“RCN”), alleging that the telecom company engaged in a bait-and-switch and billing fraud scheme against its broadband internet customers.
In the complaint, named plaintiffs Katherine Grillo and Christian Reid allege that through a combination of advertising, promotional material on its website and materials used by sales and customer service staff, RCN lured customers into subscribing to its internet services based on a low, monthly flat fee. However, the complaint alleges that once customers signed with RCN, they were billed at higher prices than the previously agreed upon flat rate.
Plaintiffs argued that RCN covertly increased customers’ bills by padding the bottom-line with a fabricated “network access and maintenance fee.” Further, the plaintiffs claimed that the added cost was nothing more than an invented fee fabricated by the defendant in order to charge customers more money per month for its services, without having to advertise or notify customers of the higher pricing. Bolstering their argument that the defendant was seeking to mislead customers as to the nature of the fee, the plaintiffs point out that RCN attempts to conceal the fee on billing statements by listing it under the taxes, surcharges and fees section.
According to the complaint, through the use of the network access and maintenance fee, RCN unfairly and improperly extracted over $30 million from its over 400,000 broadband internet customers in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, Illinois and Washington D.C. The plaintiffs are seeking to create a class made up of all current and former customers of RCN who, between January 1, 2018 and the present, were charged what RCN labeled a network access and maintenance fee.
The suit brings causes of action of violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, violation of the New Jersey Truth in Consumer Contract Warranty and Notice Act, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and New Jersey Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act.
The case is: Katherine Grillo et al. v. RCN Telecom Services LLC et al., Case No.: 3:20-cv-08609, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey
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