Comcast is probably not anyone’s favorite company to deal with, especially in markets that they have a monopoly in and charge their customers exorbitant fees for their cable and internet services. But now, Washington State has filed a lawsuit against Comcast for their overcharge fees, but it is not quite what you may think.
For one thing, it is standard practice for any company to hike up their prices when they do not have any competition to squeeze down their rates. Comcast is perhaps no different than any other big American company who does that. But what Comcast is currently doing has been deemed fraud, because they are selling protection plans that Washington’s Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, claims to be worthless, according to The Olympian.
What Comcast is accused of doing is charging their customers in Washington (also across the nation) a $4.99 monthly fee for protection plans that cover them if they need a Comcast technician to come out for service. But these “comprehensive” plans do not, in fact, cover everything and Comcast has been billing their customers for much more than just their standard monthly protection fees.
“This case is a classic example of a big corporation systematically deceiving Washington state consumers and putting profits above those consumers,” Ferguson said.
— The Next Web (@TheNextWeb) August 1, 2016
The $100 million lawsuit against Comcast is in part to recover the funds paid to the cable giant as well as for other costs. Of course, this is just against Comcast for residents in the state of Washington, which covers about 500,000 Comcast customers. If this lawsuit against Comcast were to succeed, it could lead to a much bigger problem for Comcast across the nation with other states following suit. It will also set a precedent that could eventually be recognized on the federal level as well.
The Comcast lawsuit, which was filed in King County Superior Court, charges that Comcast fraudulently collected on their comprehensive customer protection plans from their customers over the past several years and did not deliver on the perceived promises that they made.
In the lawsuit, there were more than 1.8 million violations of Washington’s Consumer Protection Act that were cited for the case against Comcast and their corporate office, which is based in Philadelphia. Attorney General Ferguson alleges that Comcast deceived customers into thinking that the $4.99 monthly fee would cover all charges if they had to have a technician come to their house and take care of any issues or troubleshooting. As it turns out, this was not the case and several Comcast customers have fallen victim to the scam.
What Comcast did not reveal to their customers is that if they had to come out and fix any issues, then they would still be charged for any wiring issues that may arise, which is an issue that nearly all United States homes have.
What is also cited in the lawsuit against Comcast is that 75 percent of the time, Comcast customer representatives told people that these monthly plan rates covered everything that the technician had to do in people’s homes, which includes the wiring inside the walls.
In the $100 million lawsuit that Washington is pursuing against Comcast, $73 million alone is for Comcast customers to get their money back. The rest of the money is sought to bring restitution to 1.2 million Washington customers who have had improper charges billed to them for services that were supposed to be covered by the monthly fee.
“It took the filing of our complaint before correcting some of the steps,” Ferguson said. “That doesn’t change the fact that for the better part of a year they [Comcast] did nothing.”
— Engadget (@engadget) August 1, 2016
The Comcast trial date has been set for July 2017.
[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]