New Yorkers who have passed away will no longer be responsible for paying their utility company fees thanks to new legislation signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
The legislation prevents telecommunications companies and utility providers from charging a contract termination or early cancellation fee in the event of a customer's death.
"This was a heartless and inappropriate policy that is mostly borne by grieving New Yorkers grappling with the loss of a loved one," Cuomo said. "Ending these fees is the right thing to do and will spare those in mourning from this annoying burden."
Many companies use early termination fees to ensure that a customer continues to use a service through the full contract period.
Under this new law, landline, cell phone, television, internet, energy and water service providers are prohibited from charging contract termination or early cancellation fees if a customer dies before the end of an agreement. In addition, a civil penalty of up to $1,000 will be placed on providers that violate the law. The measure takes effect immediately.
"This law was written in memory of my mother Therese Malone. After she passed away, a utility company tried to charge her account an early termination fee," said
Assemblywoman Aileen M. Gunther. "I wondered, if this was happening to my family, how many others have been taken advantage of. I thank the Governor for signing this bill into law and joining me in protecting families across New York State. My mother was a generous, caring woman who was guided by her faith. She would be pleased that, even after her passing, she was able to help others."