Sticking lawyers with a bogus bill is generally not a wise corporate practice, but that’s what a White Plains law firm claims Altice USA Inc. did.
Lehrman, Lehrman & Guterman LLP sued the Bethpage, Long Island, communications company July 29 in Westchester Supreme Court, demanding $250,165 for a $165 phone call it claims it did not place.
Altice, “understood that it had a superior position over its customer-subscribers,” the complaint states, “and could compel payment for such un-incurred charges.”
Altice spokeswoman Lisa Gonzalez Anselmo did not respond to an email message asking for the company’s side of the story.
Altice, which also operates under the trade name Optimum, is a $22 billion publicly traded company that provides advertising, cable, internet and telephone services and produces the News12 local television channel.
The law firm has subscribed to the internet and telephone services since June 2017.
The April bill listed a $165 charge for a call to a number in Africa.
Lehrman claims that Altice admitted that it did not place the call, acknowledged that the firm was not legally responsible for the cost, and attributed the call to someone hacking the phone system. But Altice allegedly refused to remove the charge or restore the firm’s international calling feature.
Lehrman said it paid the bill under protest to ensure that telephone and internet services were not disrupted.
It believes, according to the lawsuit filed by Mark A. Guterman, that Altice has required other customers to pay for calls they did not incur.
Lehrman is demanding $165 for the phone call and $250,000 in punitive damages for Altice’s refusal to remove the charge, “to vindicate the rights of the public, in general, from the wrongful and systemic conduct of the defendant.”