State of Washington finds Comcast violated Consumer Protection Act over 445,000 times

onetheycallEric

TS Addict
Staff member

A Washington State court ruling earlier this week indicated that ISP Comcast violated the Consumer Protection Act some 445,000 times. Washington's ruling emanates from Comcast engaging in a dubious practice known as "slamming."

In slamming customers, Comcast was signing up tens of thousands of Washington residents for its Service Protection Plan without their consent. Furthermore, Comcast failed to accurately represent or inform customers of the cost of the SPP. In total, Comcast was charging almost 31,000 customers for the SPP nonconsensually, while it misrepresented the cost to 18,600 Washington customers.

“Comcast refused to accept responsibility for its egregious conduct that resulted in Washingtonians losing money every month for a product they did not want or request,” Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said via press release.

Ferguson continued, "Instead of making things right for Washingtonians, Comcast sent an army of corporate lawyers into court to try to avoid accountability. My legal team demonstrated that we’re capable of meeting the world’s largest corporations in court – and winning. Part of my job is keeping giant corporations honest. Big or small, every business must play by the rules."

Records demonstrated that Comcast enrolled customers into the monthly plan even after they actively declined it. Other internal documents and data showed Comcast customer service agents failed to inform customers of the recurring costs of the plan, and instead stated they were receiving the plan for free, or free for a month.

From 2011 through mid-2016, Comcast earned an estimated $85 million in revenue from its SPP practices, and that's just in Washington alone. As a result, Comcast has been ordered to pay a $9.1 million penalty, and refund customers immediately. Additionally, Comcast will pay a 12 percent interest on an undecided amount of restitution. While the restitution amount is currently undetermined, it's expected to be "significant."

Comcast's violations of the Consumer Protection Act stack up like this:

  • 240,588 violations for signing up SPP customers without their consent
  • 205,260 violations for failing to disclose or misrepresenting the recurring cost of the SPP

While the $9.1 million is indeed record breaking for the state of Washington, it's a rather paltry sum relative to what Comcast earned from its deceptive practices -- and represents only a fraction of the $171 million originally sought. Still, a win is a win, and it will hopefully set an important precedent. As of May 2018, before the lawsuit went to trial, Comcast stopped offering the Service Protection Plan.

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Dimitriid

TS Booster
Talk about a slap in the wrist. I'm sure that spend that much on coffee for their corporate offices.

Couldn't they make it at least 1 dollar per violation?
 
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wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
This is only one state. I can imagine what it is doing in the others - especially those that have passed laws that favor monopolies like most ISPs hold in the US.

I bet their internal motto is 'Screw whatever we can screw. Anything that we can get away with that helps out bottom line, illegal or not, is worthy of a reward.'
 

Dimitrios

TS Guru
My grandma passed away about 2 years ago at the age of 98. Comcast was charging her for internet and a router she never used!!!!!!!! She doesn't even know how to use a cell phone.
 

treetops

TS Evangelist
It's basic inside wire maintenance. Century link used to offer something similiar for 5$ a month, on a month by month basis. If you used it right, it was a great service. Say you moved into a new house with no phone lines or damaged phone lines.(needed for dsl) For 5$ you could get it resolved, then cancel the service.

Customer service for companies like Cox cable will run all over you. Straight up lie to you. "You have to buy tv cable service if you want to reconnect your internet". If Comcast runs as fast n loose this isn't a surprise. I've worked tech support and I'v seen all the junk customer service adds to a customers bill... "free phone line", yeah that comes with a 15$ monthly tax.

The problem will persist until they stop giving customer support commission.
 
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captaincranky

TechSpot Addict
Talk about a slap in the wrist. I'm sure that spend that much on coffee for their corporate offices.

Couldn't they make it at least 1 dollar per violation?
Why is it that so many alleged computer enthusiasts here can't do simple math? After all, computer tech, particularly programming, is a heavily math based science.

If you divide 445,000 into 9,100,000, you should come up with a figure of $20,44 per violation.
 

ckm88

TS Addict
So glad they got caught. Unfortunately, they'll find another loophole to make up the losses as well as price surges.
 

captaincranky

TechSpot Addict
Quote from article:

"A Washington State court ruling earlier this week indicated that ISP Comcast violated the Consumer Protection Act some 445,000 times. Washington's ruling emanates from Comcast engaging in a dubious practice known as "slamming."">

Actually, "slamming" is a much older term, used to describe long distance carriers altering a customer's account by changing long distance service to their company's, without the customers knowledge.

Basically, it was like you went to bed with AT & T as your long distance carrier, and while you slept, "the slam fairy" visited your account and you woke up with Sprint (or whomever), as you new long distance service.

Granted, the definition of "slamming" may have been broadened recently, but with those old fangled wired landlines is where the term arose.

FWIW, in spite of how negatively many people feel about Verizon, IMO, they're a lot easier and more honest to deal with than Comcast. But they too, try and nickel and dime you, by attaching charges to your account, for services which used to be free. IE connecting to a long distance carrier, unpublished phone number.
 
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HyperPete

TS Enthusiast
I don't understand how Comcrap gets away with all that they do. I am glad to see that they got caught in Washington. I'll look forward to the day that they get broken up for monopolizing the market in so many locations. Until then, they will continue to do whatever they want.