Part 5 Discontinuance of Service and Removal of Accounts
D. Serious Illness and Personal Emergency.
Rule 5.15. Notwithstanding any other provision of these Rules, if the
customer claims that there is a seriously ill person residing in the household
Where service is provided, the Company shall postpone discontinuance of service
if the customer can demonstrate that he or she is unable to pay an outstanding bill
for telephone service and that continued access to the telephone is required
because of the serious illness. If service has already been discontinued, it shall be
restored. Such postponement or restoral shall be predicated on the receipt of
certification of the illness by a registered physician. The certificate shall state the
name and address of the seriously ill person, the nature of the illness, and the
physician’s office address and telephone number.
Certification shall be valid for the duration of the illness or thirty
calendar days, whichever is less, and shall be renewable twice under The same
Rule 5.16. A certification of serious illness shall be sufficient if initially made by telephone. In such event, the Company shall inform the certifying physician that a written certificate setting forth the information required by Rule 5.15 hereof must be forwarded to the Company within seven days. If the Company does not receive written certification of the serious illness within seven days, it shall make its best efforts to contact the customer and the certifying physician prior to discontinuing service.
Rule 5.17. If the customer claims in writing and can demonstrate that he or she is unable to pay an outstanding bill for telephone service and that a personal emergency exists, the Company shall postpone discontinuance of service or shall restore service if it has already been discontinued. The period of postponement of discontinuance of service shall not exceed thirty days; and if service has been discontinued it shall be restored for a period not to exceed thirty days.
Rule 5.18. Any decision by the Company to deny a postponement of discontinuance of service or to refuse to restore service, purporting to be made pursuant to Rules 5.15, 5.16 or 5.17 hereof, shall be appealable in accordance with Part 6 hereof.
Rule 5.19. In cases where telephone service is continued or restored pursuant to Rules 5.15, 5.16 or 5.17 hereof, the customer must, no later than the end of the postponement or restorable period, (a) pay all undisputed delinquent amounts in full, (b) enter into a deferred payment agreement for such amounts pursuant to Part 7 hereof, or (c) request the department to establish a deferred agreement for such amounts pursuant to Part 7 hereof. If the customer fails to make one of such payment arrangements, the Company may discontinue service.
Read more of DPU 18488 in Appendix H of the National Consumer Law Center's publication Utilites Advocacy for Low Income Households in Massachusetts