Washington State Accuses Comcast of Engaging in Deceptive Practices
Posted Wednesday, August 3, 2016 by Lisa Benedetti
A lawsuit alleging more than 1.8 million violations of the Washington Consumer Protection Act was filed against Comcast yesterday.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed the $100 million suit saying that the cable giant engaged in deceptive practices for their own financial gain. The subject of the suit involves Comcast’s Service Protection Plan, repair fees, and credit checks.
The service plan, costing $4.99 a month, is marketed as covering repair costs for wiring issues related to Xfinity TV, voice, and internet. However, the state claims that in many cases, Comcast would either charge the customer for the repairs or simply not repair the issue at all. The state also alleges that Comcast would charge improper repair fees when the company guarantees they don’t charge for service visits resulting from Comcast equipment or network problems.
The initial investigation began with the credit check issue. Comcast customers are required to pay a deposit for any Comcast equipment. This can be waived if customers agree to a credit check and have a high credit score. The investigation revealed that in many cases, Comcast ran a credit check even when people chose to pay the deposit fee and in other cases, customers were charged the deposit fee despite Comcast running a check and finding they had a high enough credit score.
Ferguson’s office has been working with Comcast for more than a year on the investigation, he said, adding that Comcast did make some “improvements” to the plan over the past month.
Ultimately, he was not satisfied with the changes Comcast had made. “Nothing changes the fact that they were deceptive in how they advertised this plan,” Ferguson said.
Comcast’s service-protection plan covers “standard maintenance” of Xfinity TV, internet and voice services for a monthly fee, according to Comcast’s website.
The exact figure the state is seeking in the suit has not been determined, but is estimated at about $100 million. The state wants reimbursement for the half-million Washington customers who paid about $73 million in subscription fees for the protection plan in the past five years.
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