Washington state is suing Comcast for allegedly deceiving customers.
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Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed suit on Monday, seeking refunds for 500,000 state residents. The filing claims the company's own documents reveal a pattern of illegally deceiving customers to pad its bottom line.
"This case is a classic example of a big corporation deceiving its customers for financial gain," Ferguson said in a statement. "I won't allow Comcast to continue to put profits above customers—and the law."
Half a million Washingtonians paid $73 million in subscription fees over five years, for what the AG's office called a "near-worthless 'protection plan.'" Folks who sign up for Comcast's Service Protection Plan pay a $4.99 monthly fee that covers service calls by a technician, including those related to inside wiring, customer-owned equipment, and on-site education. Comcast, however, failed to disclose that its plan doesn't cover repairs to wiring inside a wall, which, as the AGO points out, encompasses a majority of homes.
"The Service Protection Plan has given those Washington consumers who chose to purchase it great value by completely covering over 99 percent of their repair calls," Comcast told PCMag in an emailed statement. "We worked with the Attorney General's office to address every issue they raised, and we made several improvements based on their input."
The Attorney General's office is seeking more than $73 million to pay back Service Protection Plan subscribers, at least $1 million in restitution for improper service calls, and up to $2,000 per violation of the state's Consumer Protection Act. It's also requesting that Comcast clearly disclose limitations of its plans through advertising and representatives.
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Ferguson also wants Comcast to remove improper credit checks from the reports of 6,000-plus customers.
"Comcast requires a deposit for equipment, but that deposit can be waived if a credit check reveals a high credit score," his office says. "On more than 6,000 occasions, however, Washington state consumers paid a deposit to Comcast, despite credit checks performed by the company revealing the customers had high credit scores."
"Given that we were committed to continue working collaboratively with the Attorney General's office, we're surprised and disappointed that they have instead chosen litigation," the Comcast spokeswoman said. "We stand behind our products and services and will vigorously defend ourselves."