Comcast Charges You For Service You Never Ordered, Threatens To Ruin Your Credit

Reader Allison wrote her Congressional rep in regards to Comcast defrauding her:

Dear Representative Snyder,

My husband and I moved home to Arkansas three months ago. I am a nurse and mother of an infant; he teaches Spanish at a Catholic high school. I’m writing because Comcast Corporation is attempting to defraud us, threatening to put our credit rating at risk if we don’t pay them for service that we did not order.

We initially contacted Comcast via the internet to establish the most basic service plan that they offer: $9-$10 per month for network channels only. Comcast received the work order and came to our house to set up service. The technician that came tried to sell me on the upgrade package and did everything he could to get us to agree to the next level up, including trying to get me to agree to have a converter box installed “in case I changed my mind.” We were firm that we wanted the least expensive option available, and were confused when he left us with access to channels 2-40. When we asked the technician about this, he assured us it would be fine, and that we would be billed correctly.

On our bills we have been charged for a package that includes channels 2-98 and costs $49.95 a month–a significant financial burden on us that we had not asked for. We contacted Comcast multiple times to correct the problem, waited more than half an hour on hold each time, and were told that it would be taken care of. We took days off to be available for technicians to come check our traps that block channels, each time with no technician showing up. We were promised calls back after “research” was done on the issue, with no follow up.
Comcast is now demanding that we pay the bill in its entirety for the months of the expanded service despite the fact that they understand that is not what we ordered. They are threatening to terminate our cable service and report us to creditors if the bill goes unpaid. They are further saying that they cannot resolve the issue until the bill is paid in full.

We would very much appreciate your help in resolving this matter. Further, we are worried that other young families in a similar situation may be falling victim to these dishonest tactics. Please let us know if there is any more information we can provide to assist your efforts to protect Arkansas consumers from Comcast Corporation.

Respectfully,
Allison M.

cc: Jennifer Khoury
Senior Director of Corporate & Consumer Communications
Comcast Corporation
1500 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Reg Griffin
Vice President of Communications
600 Galleria Parkway Suite 1100
Atlanta, GA 30339

Gloria Rush
Public Relations/ Marketing
600 Galleria Parkway Suite 1100
Atlanta, GA 30339

Mr. Roberts, if you really hope your company’s bad reputation isn’t “universal,” maybe you could start by not scamming Allison and her husband. Allison could also try sending her complaint letter to this list of Comcast Executives, including brian_roberts@comcast.com.

(Photo: Steve Rhodes)

Comments

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  1. BStu says:

    Sounds like my current experience, though I’m not quite so far along. We canceled phone service through Comcast and they DID shut it off. However, they never closed the cancel order, so they’ve still been billing us for the triple play package. On top of that, they ARE billing us for the services we wanted to remain separately, so we’re basically getting double billed on the digital cable and internet. Our customer service response has also been a lot of, “we’ll get back to you’s” though every month we get a new bill the reflects no efforts to fix an obvious problem. Think we might be soon to send Mr. Roberts a message as well.

  2. Nighthawke says:

    EECB time, plus a nice note to the local newsies never hurts any either.

  3. Murph1908 says:

    Do what I did with DirecTV. Write a letter, stating the entire issue calmly and professionally. State only facts, and don’t embellish with drama or hyperbole. State that you are not liable for these charges, this is their official notification of the fact, they should respond via mail only from now on, and should they choose to send it to collections or otherwise affect your credit, you will pursue your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

    This worked for me. After calling and stating my case regarding a bogus early termination charge many times, I was told I was SOL. After sending the letter, I got a nice one back saying they credited the charges. I got a $20 from them a month later for my credit balance.

    FYI, there are severe penalties for companies who wrongly affect credit scores. I believe it’s about $1000 per incident.

  4. Hoss says:

    Assuming she hit a dead end with Comcast, writing her congressperson is an excellent approach. I’ve found writing my congressperson to be very helpful in resolving problems in highly regulated industries (phone, cable, banking, etc)

  5. Crazytree says:

    Charter just did this to me with a $5 sports package.

  6. renegadebarista says:

    There may actually be a much easier way to resolve this. Most cable providers are granted “franchises” by the city they are doing business in. Check with your city, if you live outside the city limits your county, and file a complaint against them with the city. Usually you will be able to get your issue resolved very quickly this way.

  7. warf0x0r says:

    I had new boxes delieved because the old ones were not recording, DVR, properly. Comcast sent out a contractor to drop off boxes that were not the model they had offered to send. We took them anyways because something is better than nothing, our next bill included two additional charges on our bill for extra DVRs.

    I called them and explained the matter to the service rep who after about 10 minutes of button mashing informed me that they cannot deactivate the new DVRs because it will turn off our cable and since they couldn’t do that it would remain on my bill…

    I got her name and explained that I only had 2 boxes and that she could take a day to figure it out and I could call her back, but ultimately you can only charge me for 2 boxes.

    I called back a week later and another person was able to credit our account. If the first lady needed more time that’s one thing, but don’t tell me that its not possible because you don’t know how your system works.

    Mr. Roberts not only is your service horrible but personally I feel that your company is the shining example of how bad it can get before forced reforms, be it government or other… imho.

  8. bohemian says:

    The FCC needs to get the ability to regulate cable, so do state PUCs.

    I had the same type of crap when we had Comcast in another city. They screwed up our bill and double billed us. Their solution was for us to go ahead and pay it and they would get around to fixing it later. Threatened to terminate our service unless we did even though they admitted it was their error. Ugh.

  9. ShadowFalls says:

    @BStu:

    I hope your soon is by the end of the day as it is likely they will keep billing you and then proceed to send it to collections.

  10. humphrmi says:

    Cool that she sent the letter to her Congressman, given the failure of the FCC recently to regulate cable, I think Congress needs to hear about the problems that unregulated cable is having.

  11. Starfury says:

    I canceled Comcast for my internet and TV; a few days ago I got a statement that they were going to be charging me $50 for December’s cable bill. I called ans was told (I’ll believe it when it happens) that the statement was wrong and I should be getting a check for the unused part of November.

    ATT hasn’t been much better…I’m still waiting for my rebate form for the modem.

  12. Maurs says:

    @Murph1908:
    $1000 per incident? That will surely put the fear of God into a company with a $25 billion revenue stream!

  13. LoLoAGoGo says:

    Unfortunately, writing your Congressman or Senator does not work the majority of the time in these matters. I used to work on the Hill and most of that correspondence gets sent back to the district offices and rarely looked at, especially in high volume mailing offices. Even if you are lucky and they do take the time to look at your complaint, it still takes much time to resolve it. You are better off contacting Exec regarding these matters.

  14. cef21 says:

    It sounds like you’ve been turned over to a bill collector, which is why you’re getting the “pay us now and we’ll work it out later” thing. They have no intention of helping you work it out.

    Here’s what I would do:

    File a complaint with your state attorney general’s consumer protection division and cc the general counsel of Comcast’s cable division. Be as concise as you can, saying basically:

    (1) We ordered basic service
    (2) Comcast installed a high-end service, which we have repeatedly asked them to cancel
    (3) Comcast is demanding that we pay for the high-end service and is threatening to ruin our credit if we don’t.

    This is probably an unfair and deceptive trade practice. If you sue Comcast (and win), there’s a good chance that they’d have to pay for your attorney.

  15. ElizabethD says:

    That letter gets an A+ for clear, unemotional, effective writing.

    Hope this couple gets some relief from Crudcast’s evil machinations soon.

  16. kretara says:

    I also live in Arkansas (Little Rock) and have had many problems with comcast over the years.
    The Attorney General (Dustin McDaniel) is a joke.
    Have not seen him do one positive thing for consumers.
    The PUC is in the pockets of comcast and will also do nothing.

    I dropped comcast for dish/att and could not be happier. Amazingly, no problems with either vendor….yet.

  17. Maverickewu says:

    Are they sending these notices by mail too? Remember, mail fraud is something that looks bad for a corporation too.

  18. boston515 says:

    The Better Business Bureau might also be helpful. You might not get all of your money back, but you could get a reasonable settlement since they are basically an arbitrator.

  19. Dullspork says:

    Just so you know, the list of Comcast executive e-mail addresses is no longer valid. I just tried a little executive carpet bomb myself and they all bounced.

    I recently tried setting up a new account with them only to discover that in 1994 somebody else had an account with my social attached.

    Now, they want me to file a police report for identity theft as a prerequisite to starting up service!

    Anyway, I tried to use the list to find out who thought that this was a good customer service procedure but all of the addresses bounced. with PERM_FAILURE: SMTP Error (state 13): 550 Mailbox unavailable or access denied

  20. Ashcan says:

    My mother had been a Comcast customer for years, but recently switched to Verizon’s FIOS. After the Verizon tech “pulled Comcast’s plug”, my mom called Comcast to terminate the service.

    Minor panic seemed to ensue on Comcast’s end when they realized that the FIOS system was already hooked up, preventing Comcast from being able to talk her out of switching her cable provider. At this point, they tried a creative approach to keep the account open.

    In 2002, my father passed away. Digging through their records, Comcast realized it was my father who had signed the contract over a decade ago. At this point, Comcast demanded to see my father’s death certificate as a prerequisite to canceling the account. Comcast wanted proof my father was actually dead.

    In the end, my mother prevailed over this tactic. But it did leave me wondering just how low Comcast will go to bully a customer.

  21. ldavis480 says:

    Over the last year the number of complaints on consumerist towards Comscat has been amazing to say the least.

    As it were, there are two companies I will never do business with as long as I live: Best Buy and Comcast.

  22. FLConsumer says:

    @Ashcan: That’s pretty low. I’m sure Comcast can go lower than that ‘though.

  23. Dullspork says:

    Update – Not ALL of the addresses bounced. It only looked like it. I got some responses this morning.

  24. mopar_man says:

    So….can we have Consumerist send a bunch of the “Douche” t-shirts advertised under this story to Comcast?

  25. bwcbwc says:

    Dish Network allowed my roommate to call them up and cancel my service without any authentication. “She had your account information so we assumed the request was legitimate” was the basic attitude. When I tried to get them to restore the service, they said I would be charged a new activation fee, even though the person who made the call wasn’t named or authorized on the account.

    So I ended up letting the cancellation go through and switched to Directv. I was perfectly happy with Dish’s technology, but their help desk security was completely inadequate. Apart from experience, all I got out of this from Dish was some interesting thoughts on pranking folks. I haven’t had any reason to contact Customer Service with Directv yet, so I can’t vouch if they’re actually any better.