So what exactly did Comcast do to find itself faced with such legal action? According to the Washington State Attorney General, the company sold “near-worthless” service plans to customers. “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,” writes Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office in a statement.
According to the AG, these monthly charges were advertised by Comcast as covering the cost of all service calls made to a customer’s home. This included networking equipment used to connect to Comcast service and wiring inside the home. What Comcast declined to tell customers, however, is that the service plan did not cover wiring inside walls, or wiring that had to be “fished” by a technician.
“Customer service scripts, obtained during the investigation, direct Comcast’s representatives to state that the plan covers service calls ‘related to inside wiring’ or ‘wiring inside your home.’ The plan does not, in fact, cover the vast majority of inside wiring,” adds the AG’s office.
But that’s not all; Ferguson alleges that Comcast also charged customers a fee for service calls that involved problems with Comcast-branded hardware, despite the company guaranteeing that it “won’t charge you for a service visit that results from a Comcast equipment or network problem.”
Ferguson was not amused, describing:
Contrary to this promise, Comcast charged thousands of Washington customers for service calls that resulted from a Comcast equipment or network problem, including issues with Comcast HDMI and component cables, Comcast cable cards, and the installation of drop amplifiers, which fix Comcast signal problems.
And to add insult to injury, Comcast is accused of improperly running credit checks on over 6,000 customers:
Washington state consumers paid a deposit to Comcast, despite credit checks performed by the company revealing the customers had high credit scores. This indicates that the either: (a) customers paid the deposit to avoid a credit check appearing on their credit report, only to have Comcast run one anyway; or (b) customers were forced to pay the deposit despite their high credit score, contrary to Comcast’s policy.
In the end, Ferguson and his office have tallied up 1.8 million violations of the state’s Consumer Protection Act by Comcast. For its part, Comcast says that it was blindsided by the lawsuit, given the it has been working to resolve any outstanding issues with the Attorney General’s office. "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,” wrote Beth Hester, Comcast VP of external affairs. “We stand behind our products and services and will vigorously defend ourselves."