ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — National Grid has agreed to pay out $38.5 million to people who may have gotten an automated call from the company on their cell phone during a 10-year period. The company agreed to pay to settle a lawsuit alleging the automated calls violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
The company’s Upstate New York Communication Specialist, Patrick Stella, said National Grid decided it was in the best interest of the company and its customers to settle the lawsuit. The company maintains it did not violate the TCPA Act.
Companies included in the settlement in New York are:
- KeySpan Gas East Corporation
- The Brooklyn Union Gas Company
- Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation
U.S. customers who received an automated call on their cell phone between Mar. 9, 2011, to Oct. 29, 2021, can file a claim to receive money. The lawsuit (Jenkins v. National Grid USA Service Company, Inc.) contends National Grid failed to get permission from customers to make automated calls to their cell phones. A provision of the TCPA Act.
Below are the automated messages people may have received that are included in the settlement:
- The payment or status of a current or past National Grid Utility Account or bill
- An “important matter” concerning a current or past National Grid Utility Account or bill
- A disconnect notice concerning a current or past National Grid Utility Account
- An invitation from National Grid to attend a Customer Assistance Expo or to meet with or speak to the National Grid Consumer Advocacy Group, National Grid Consumer Advocate, or National Grid Credit Department
- The availability of a government assistance program, such as the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP)
People have until May 12 to file a claim. Additionally, people can exclude themselves from the settlement if they plan to sue National Grid in the future, object to the settlement in writing, or petition the court to speak at the final hearing Jun. 10.
To make sure National Grid follows the TCPA Act, they are also making changes to its policies and procedures surrounding calls to customers. The changes will be implemented over time, according to Stella.
“One example of such a change is that persons who open a new utility account during a live telephone call will be asked by service center representatives if they consent or do not consent to receive automated collection calls,” he said.
A claim form is available online. People who did not receive notification by mail can still fill out a claim form. More information about the lawsuit and settlement can be found on National Grid’s website, classaction.org, or govinfo.gov.