Comcast broke law 445,000 times in scheme to jack up customers’ bills, judge finds

Jon Brodkin for Ars Technica:

Comcast yesterday was ordered to refund nearly 50,000 customers and pay a $9.1 million fine when a judge ruled that it violated Washington state consumer protection law hundreds of thousands of times.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued Comcast in August 2016, accusing the nation’s largest cable company of tricking customers into buying a “near-worthless ‘protection plan’ without disclosing its significant limitations.”

Buying the $5-per-month plan ostensibly prevented customers from having to pay each time a Comcast technician visited their home to fix problems covered by the plan. But in reality, the plan did not cover the vast majority of wiring problems, the AG’s lawsuit said. Moreover, Washington state attorneys said that Comcast led customers to believe that they needed to buy a Service Protection Plan (SPP) to get services that were actually covered for free by the company’s “Customer Guarantee.”

In yesterday’s ruling, King County Superior Court Judge Timothy Bradshaw found that “Comcast violated the Consumer Protection Act more than 445,000 times when it charged tens of thousands of Washingtonians for its Service Protection Plan without their consent,” Ferguson’s announcement said.

MacDailyNews Take: Comcast to customers: “Hey, you pay us for our ‘protection plan’ and everything’ll be A-OK. You know, this is some nice wiring you got here. Be a shame if anything happened to it.”

So, yet another reason to hate the cable company. However, the $9.1 million penalty doesn’t seem like nearly enough to dissuade further transgressions.

Better to simply cut the cord instead.

Now, if only we all could find an ISP who’s not the cable company that we’re trying to divorce!


  1. Comcast’s “protection plan” sounds a hella like a certain President’s decree and healthcare Mandates. “We will punish you if you don’t buy into it.”.

    1. You have your facts completely wrong.

      Tired of deadbeat uninsured asswipes going to emergency rooms on the taxpayers’ dime to treat easily prevented diseases, Romneycare simply charged those who refused to buy insurance a fee to offset the high costs of social health services. The ACA did the same thing. It set a minimum coverage standard for healthcare insurance. Ever since the self proclaimed republicans, all riled up by the russian troll farms, have spread nonstop misinformation. We know that regional monopoly hospitals and Insurance companies used the manufactured crisis to screw everyone, but that has been happening for decades as independent hospitals get swallowed by massive HMOs. If you actually paid attention, 20 million more people have healthcare and the rate of insurance premiums on average hasn’t accelerated anywhere near the isolated horror stories you are fed — at least, not where competition exists.

      Consider health insurance to be like a Mac Pro. Everyone thinks they should have the ultra premium model but they are disgusted when they learn it costs a dime more than it did when they were in college. Maybe instead of whining about the president who signed the reform bill, they should propose specifically what additional reforms they want. I’ll start: there should be a nonprofit nationwide health insurance company chartered to reduce premiums. If the existing healthcare middlemen can’t compete on price or quality, too bad.

  2. Yeah! The bums!
    In a service call to look at my mother in law’s wiring, she asked them to take a look at her broken monitor stand. They wanted $1000!

    1. Did they also help her finish the big-budget movie she was working on that required a top-notch reference display, the equivalent of what cost her $43,000 last year?

  3. Verizon/Comcast/Xfinity is horrible. They were constantly adding new charges to my bill over the life of the contract. Was extremely happy when AT&T and Google fiber came to our neighborhood.

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