Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has filed a first-of-its kind in the nation $100 million consumer protection lawsuit against communications giant Comcast on Monday. I explain the so called deceptive practices made by the attorney general and how this will impact the billing and refunds of half million Washington customers.
” Key developments:
- The lawsuit is over what the attorney general calls deceptive practices.
- Ferguson says company’s conduct affected about 500,000 Washington state customers.
- Comcast is accused of misleading customers into paying at least $73 million in subscription fees over the last five years for a near-worthless “protection plan.”
- Consumer reporter Jesse Jones is working to learn what this means for your Comcast bill for a report on KIRO 7 News at 5 p.m.
The lawsuit accuses Comcast of engaging in a pattern of deceptive practices constituting more than 1.8 million violations of the Washington Consumer Protection Act. It also alleges that the company’s own documents reveal a pattern of illegally deceiving their customers to pad their profit by tens of millions of dollars.
Among the alleged deceptive practices are misrepresenting the scope of its service protection plan, charging customers improper service call fees and improper credit screening practices.
This case is a classic example of a big corporation deceiving its customers for financial gain,” Ferguson said. “I won’t allow Comcast to continue to put profits above customers — and the law.”
The lawsuit also accuses Comcast of violating the CPA to all of its nearly 1.2 million Washington subscribers due to its deceptive “Comcast Guarantee.”
Here’s why the attorney general calls the plan deceptive:
Customers who sign up for Comcast’s Service Protection Plan pay a $4.99 monthly fee ostensibly to avoid being charged if a Comcast technician visits their home to fix an issue covered by the plan,” the news release said.“Comcast routinely claimed that the “comprehensive” plan covered the cost of all service calls, including those related to inside wiring, customer-owned equipment connected to Comcast services and on-site education about products. However, Comcast did not appropriately disclose that the plan does not cover repairs to any “wall-fished” wiring — wiring inside a wall — which constitutes the vast majority of wiring inside homes.”
Though the attorney general’s Office brought the issues to Comcast more than a year ago, the company didn’t begin to make changes until recently.
The company’s conduct affected about 400,000 Washington state customers, according to Ferguson.
For its Consumer Protection Act violations, the attorney general’s office is seeking:
• More than $73 million in restitution to pay back Service Protection Plan subscriber payments;
• Full restitution for all service calls that applied an improper resolution code, estimated to be at least $1 million;
• Removing improper credit checks from the credit reports of more than 6,000 customers;
• Up to $2,000 per violation of the Consumer Protection Act; and
• Broad injunctive relief, including requiring Comcast to clearly disclose the limitations of its Service Protection Plan in advertising and through its representatives, correct improper service codes that should not be chargeable and implement a compliance procedure for improper customer credit checks.
Comcast says it’s “surprised and disappointed” that Washington state is suing it for $100 million after alleging the cable and internet giant deceived customers.In a statement, Comcast said the protection plan covered 99 percent of consumers’ repair calls. The company said it made several improvements based on the input of Ferguson’s office. The company said “we stand behind our products and services and will vigorously defend ourselves.”
Other Comcast stories from JesseJones.com:
- Comcast giving refunds for June 1 outage
- How to get an outage credit from Comcast
- Here’s how much Comcast data caps cost one customer every month
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