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house Bill H.R. 4356

Should Families of Fallen & Critically Injured Servicemembers be Able to End Phone, Cable & Internet Services Without Penalties?

Argument in favor

When a servicemember is killed or wounded serving overseas, their family is under tremendous strain. There’s no reason to make these situations harder by allowing companies to impose penalties for cancelling no-longer needed services on grieving military families. Making this allowance for families that have made great sacrifices for the U.S. is a drop in the bucket to large phone, cable, and internet companies — and it’s the right thing to do.

jimK's Opinion
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11/12/2019
Absolutely. I would like a bill to publicly list every instance where any telecommunications provider chooses to impose these termination fees on families having a loved one lost while in-service to our country and while protecting the rights of those telecommunications providers to be such assholes.
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Tracy's Opinion
···
11/12/2019
Of course these companies should not impose penalties on these families. Managing to live a life, maintain a relationship and possibly a family is difficult enough without companies adding to the financial burden by taking advantage of every single opportunity to levy fees. I had a hard time with this same thing after a bad accident and long hospital stay - I can’t imagine how much worse it is for military families. Our soldiers have a hard enough time as it is. They make sacrifices I don’t have to. Fighting with the cable company seems petty compared to that, and I don’t think their families should have that burden.
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Just.Dave's Opinion
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11/12/2019
The cancelation fees should be cancelled altogether. Hold companies accountable. If they provide a terrible service, they should reap what they sow. It's not the consumer's fault they are terrible, its their fault. They only want to trap consumers because they know they won't stick around without a contract. Maybe offer more competitive pricing... Try better customer service... Yes, especially report the abuse by these companies of the family and loved ones of fallen soldiers. But this should really be done away with altogether. Let's see what happens in a true, free market. Update: You really can't limit this to death and injury. A good friend of mine was renting from Westmont Properties and he gave them a 30 day notice that he was going active duty in the Army. Their reaction: they tried to evict him and charge him for early release of his rental contract... A judge dismissed this, and told the reps from Westmont to let him stay for that month and do his inspection immediately before he leaves. They didn't show up for this inspection, and later sued him for $6,000.00 in flood damages... He didn't cause the flood, and they knew it. They just don't care about our service people, only the lining in their pockets.
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Argument opposed

Phone, cable, and internet companies rely on the steady revenue from contracts to keep their businesses solvent. While military families’ losses are tragic, they don’t nullify legally binding contracts — so, unfortunately, they still need to pay early termination fees and applicable penalties like any other customers if they end phone, cable, or internet contracts early.

Daryl's Opinion
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11/12/2019
This is a conflict with me. As a veteran, I want things to be better for other veterans and their families, as well as families of the fallen. The issue that I have is telling businesses how to conduct their business. If the businesses have bad practices, then consumers should force the changes. You cant regulate good business practices. The businesses themselves have to figure it out. Government regulation to force those changes is wrong and against liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
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Bob's Opinion
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11/12/2019
They should absolutely be able to do so, and I'm sure they do it all the time. Was this even an issue, or is this just an example of government trying to act like the good guy by pushing laws to address nonexistent problems? Getting the government involved is a needless waste of time.
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Dan's Opinion
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11/12/2019
My heart bleeds as much as the next human, and termination fees are stupid. If you want to lay down the law on how to do business, make it apply to everyone. Meanwhile, feel free to individually reimburse service members for their fees, and tweet your disgust of company policies to the world. We don’t need the Fed to solve all of our problems.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Veterans' Affairs
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Economic Opportunity
      Committee on Veterans' Affairs
    IntroducedSeptember 17th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 4356?

This bill — the Protecting Families of Fallen Servicemembers Act — would allow families of fallen and critically injured servicemembers to end their phone, cable, or internet connections without a financial penalty. It would serve as an additional protection, of which there are already many, for families after a servicemember’s death.

Impact

Fallen and critically injured servicemembers’ families; fallen and critically injured servicemembers; phone, cable, or internet contracts owned by families of fallen and critically injured servicemembers; phone companies; cable companies; and internet companies.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 4356

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Josh Harder (D-CA) introduced this bill to allow families of fallen and critically injured servicemembers to end their phone, cable, or internet connect without a financial penalty

“If your family member is killed or wounded while serving overseas, the last thing you need to worry about is fighting your internet company. Military families already make a huge sacrifice, and losing a loved one is one more reminder that our heroes in uniform don’t serve alone. Folks who lose a loved one in the line of duty may have to move or experience changes in income that mean they need to end their phone or internet contract – they shouldn’t be on the hook for extra fees after such a devastating loss. This is obvious, common sense stuff.”

After this bill passed the House Veterans Affairs Committee by voice vote, Rep. Harder said

“We owe our men and women in uniform for their service and sacrifice in defense of our country. You expect that companies would do the right thing if a servicemember dies in the line of duty – unfortunately, that’s not always the case. This bill will ensure that grieving loved ones of a fallen hero don’t have to fight their cable or cell phone company to change their service – it’s the last thing these folks need to be worrying about. Getting this through committee is a huge milestone – next stop is the House Floor.” 

Original cosponsor Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) adds

“The families of our nation’s servicemembers deserve support when tragedy strikes. This bill would ensure spouses of servicemembers who are killed or catastrophically injured in the line of duty are not trapped in contracts.”

This legislation passed the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee by voice vote with the support of one cosponsor, Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH). It’s expected to pass the full House.

Last year, the House passed similar legislation. However, the Senate failed to include it in a larger bill.


Of Note: Changes in salary and necessary moves after a servicemember’s death often mean a military family needs to terminate their phone, cable, and/or internet contracts. However, at present, companies often deny these requests or assess fees for breaking a contract. 


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / CatLane)

AKA

Protecting Families of Fallen Servicemembers Act

Official Title

To amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to allow certain individuals to terminate contracts for telephone, multichannel video programming, or internet access service, and for other purposes.

    Absolutely. I would like a bill to publicly list every instance where any telecommunications provider chooses to impose these termination fees on families having a loved one lost while in-service to our country and while protecting the rights of those telecommunications providers to be such assholes.
    Like (52)
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    This is a conflict with me. As a veteran, I want things to be better for other veterans and their families, as well as families of the fallen. The issue that I have is telling businesses how to conduct their business. If the businesses have bad practices, then consumers should force the changes. You cant regulate good business practices. The businesses themselves have to figure it out. Government regulation to force those changes is wrong and against liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
    Like (7)
    Follow
    Share
    Of course these companies should not impose penalties on these families. Managing to live a life, maintain a relationship and possibly a family is difficult enough without companies adding to the financial burden by taking advantage of every single opportunity to levy fees. I had a hard time with this same thing after a bad accident and long hospital stay - I can’t imagine how much worse it is for military families. Our soldiers have a hard enough time as it is. They make sacrifices I don’t have to. Fighting with the cable company seems petty compared to that, and I don’t think their families should have that burden.
    Like (21)
    Follow
    Share
    The cancelation fees should be cancelled altogether. Hold companies accountable. If they provide a terrible service, they should reap what they sow. It's not the consumer's fault they are terrible, its their fault. They only want to trap consumers because they know they won't stick around without a contract. Maybe offer more competitive pricing... Try better customer service... Yes, especially report the abuse by these companies of the family and loved ones of fallen soldiers. But this should really be done away with altogether. Let's see what happens in a true, free market. Update: You really can't limit this to death and injury. A good friend of mine was renting from Westmont Properties and he gave them a 30 day notice that he was going active duty in the Army. Their reaction: they tried to evict him and charge him for early release of his rental contract... A judge dismissed this, and told the reps from Westmont to let him stay for that month and do his inspection immediately before he leaves. They didn't show up for this inspection, and later sued him for $6,000.00 in flood damages... He didn't cause the flood, and they knew it. They just don't care about our service people, only the lining in their pockets.
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    I find the argument against this appalling. I truly believe the telecommunications companies will survive, if they don’t get their penalties! Injured and fallen servicepersons & their families deserve better. No penalties for early termination of services!!!
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    Only one percent of us serve in the military. They and their families should be allowed to end/change phone, internet or other services as needed without penalty. And by the way....This was a problem after my father passed away. The cell phone company made it so difficult to change his account to my mom and remove his phone number. I had to bring his death certificate to them 3 times. They had an excuse for everything.
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    Absolutely! And they should be able to end an apartment, condo, house and auto lease without penalty.
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    ALL services should be able to be dropped for the death of ANY person, not just veterans. The contract is not being fulfilled - BECAUSE THE PERSON IS DEAD. Hello! The remaining family is paying for a service which is not being provided. If this doesn't pass, then families of the recently deceased should be allowed to sue service providers for breach of contract.
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    No One should have to pay a penalty for not using something they no longer need and this is especially true for those who have given service to our country.
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    Lost revenue they say. In reality, it will be lost revenue as love ones or family become ticked off and move to another carrier. Also, please consider the actual number this bill will aid. Two to 3 thousand? Short sighted carriers. Why create more problems for these families?
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    This is such a no brained I’m disgusted that it isn’t already the case
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    I can even believe this has to be a bill. If something is in the Military members name only guess what that biller is out of luck. You just give the biller a call tell them the situation, please cancel your not getting any more money have have a nice day and hang up. Term limits for Congress and Senate.
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    Take care of these suffering family that gave enough.
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    Obvious.
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    Military families can be subjected to transfers, relocations and deployments on schedules that don’t align with civilian business structures. These differences need to be accommodated as these transfers occur through no fault of their own.
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    Yes. They do not need the extra stress after the loss of a loved one. Cable and Phone companies do not need to be that uncaring and greedy
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    I can’t believe this is even a question. Through NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN these families have lost their partner/wage earner and a cable company wants to charge them a penalty for needing to cancel service?? Ludicrous!
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    If a death or lack of continued funds due to injury, the contracts should dissolved.
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    When you face a major calamity, internet and other service providers should show empathy about it. Because of their selfish all-about-me attitude and mentality about this, we need to pass laws that give people relief.
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