Comcast Billing Gone Bonkers

SM writes:

This story starts in March 07 when my sister moved out of the country and canceled her Comcast account. I returned her modem, and they told me her account was settled. Then, my mom (who has power of attorney) gets a bill for around $193. Comcast customer service tells my mom that she really only has to pay around $35, so she sends a check for that amount, but another bill arrives for $135.35. Again, Comcast customer service tells her, no actually you only need to pay $43.86. My mom tries to dispute the bill, but Comcast sends my sister’s account to a collection agency called CMI…

My mom then figures she should just pay the bill, so she pays on July 31. Then she gets another bill from the collection agency for the same amount. Comcast does not acknowledge receipt of payment from July 31 until my mom faxes them her bank statement showing the check cashed by Comcast. Within two weeks my mom gets a refund from Comcast AND another bill from CMI! After talking with a supervisor at Comcast, my mom is told that everything is taken care of. She does not receive any more correspondence or bills until December 10, when she gets a call and a bill from CMI. She then called Comcast and spoke with a man named Dyran Nichols (my mom had nothing but praise for this man).

Turns out there are two accounts in my sister’s name! Both are misspelled, one payed out and one owing the $43.86. What? How does that even happen? Anyway, he says that nothing more will be owed, CMI will be told to back off, and everything will be taken care of and my mom will get a letter of apology. The only thing he told my mom to do was to call CMI on Jan 15 to make sure everything was taken care of.
Now this brings us to today, when CMI calls again. They are still looking for payment for my sister’s account. My mom called Comcast immediately, and guess what? They have no record her last call or the original account (never mind that the bill for an account that does not exist is in her hands). But don’t worry, the account sent to CMI still exists. The supervisor tells my mom that she needs to send all the of the past correspondence back to Comcast so that they can see what to do. My mom refused because she had already sent all the information in. She told the supervisor to find Dyran Nichols and find out what happened. The supervisor now says that she will look up Dyran Nichols and call her back by Wednesday.

I understand this is a very long and confusing story, but what can we do to make sure that this is taken care of once and for all? It’s been almost a year of going back and forth with Comcast and obviously their word is crap, so what do we do now? Any help would be much appreciated.

Thanks,
SM

PS. I wanted to keep this simple (ha) so I haven’t mentioned how throughout this process Comcast and CMI have been unable to understand that it’s possible that there is more than one person with the last name [redacted]. They have repeatedly treated all accounts with the name [redacted] as one account. It appears they have a lack of cultural competency that could be contributing to their confusion and lack of responsiveness.

Forget Comcast. Comcast is no longer part of the picture. Your account has been sold to CMI. It is now no longer Comcast’s property and they don’t give a damn about it. That’s why nothing they have said has mattered. So just focus your attention on CMI. In this case, you don’t need to be supplying them with information. They need to be supplying you with you information. You need that they supply

* (1) the amount of the debt;
* (2) the name of the creditor to whom the debt is owed;
* (3) Provide a verification or copy of any judgment (if applicable);
* (4) Proof that you are licensed to collect debts in (insert name of your state)
* (5) Proof that they actually own the debt.

Considering the billing mixup, we’re guessing it will be hard for them to actually supply all of this information.

Here’s a sample letter for disputing the debt. Under federal law, they’re not allowed to keep contacting you just to get you to pay. Here’s a sample letter for telling them to buzz off. If they keep contacting you, you can sue them in small claims court and easily win judgment against them.

(Photo: honeylamb)

Comments

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  1. remusrm says:

    Same damn thing happen with me with time warner. But I only had an account. Paid the bill then weeks later, more like 3 got the same bill of 163 plus cmi 30 dollars fee. Now I start to think is a scam, since time warner said is not their thing anymore, but I think they are into this too…

  2. dix99 says:

    Comcast are scammers. I signed up for internet service that was advertised in the Free Press, that said ‘Back to School deal, 12 months for $35″. After 6 Months they started charging me $55 & when I called & questioned it, they said they have never run a promotion for a 12mth deal, only a 6mth deal. I even got a supervisor on the line who tried arguing with me about it. I even called them liars & they still denied it. They told me to prove that they did have that promotion, or I was out of luck. Well, knowing comcast, I had kept the page from the paper just in case I did have a problem & faxed over to them. They then apologized & reduced the rate for the rest of my contract. After that I cancelled & got WOW to match the old price.

  3. floyderdc says:

    I used to work for Comcast customer service, I saw this all the time. The people who handle CMI are in a diffrent department that customer service. Sad to say but there is nothing customer service can do for you, go above customer service or deal with CMI directly. Comcast sucks.

  4. Kos says:

    Go DIX99. I’m going to remember to do that the next time I move / change providers. Easy enough to put the promotion in the manilla forlder with the other papers.

  5. johnva says:

    @dix99: What scumbags. I’m not surprised, either.

  6. dgcaste says:

    I’m waiting for the douche that’s going to say “serves you right for using Comcast”!

  7. The Great Aussie Evil says:

    Didn’t we already go through this “debt collectors are hell” thing a month ago?

  8. Nately says:

    @Aussie-Evil: Yes, so obviously Consumerist should never address this problematic issue ever, ever again.

  9. The Great Aussie Evil says:

    Never mind, I looked at the article I was reading, and it was the wrong level of hell. Comcast’s is less worse (I had difficulty typing that!)

  10. LorneReams says:

    I love debt collectors….easiest source of income for someone who knows what they are doing. Threaten me with a lawsuit…lie to me…fail to verify and then call constantly… small claims judgments, here I come…

  11. vastrightwing says:

    Reason #11 not to subscribe to Comcast: Once you subscribe to Comcast, they never let you leave.

  12. LionelEHutz says:

    If your mom’s county has an office to deal with cable companies, call them. Comcast’s “customer service” people are dumber than a box of rocks and rude (apologies to the rocks, they can’t help it that they have no brains and rocks are also generally good natured).

  13. scoosdad says:

    Here’s a contact at Comcast’s executive offices in Philadelphia who recently got involved in a billing problem for me and got me a refund check cut for me when no one else there could help.

    Frank Elias 215-286-7480

  14. kinksville says:

    Recently I looked at my Comcast bill and noticed at $3 charge for modem rental. I bought my modem at Best Buy and had this issue with Comcast at my old place too.

    I called them up and they wanted proof that I owned the modem.

    I pulled up a bill from just before I moved, and was about to read it to them when they found the old account.

    They had been charging me the fee for over a year, and had to credit my account for $51.00.

    To give them credit, they did it without complaining after my ownership of the modem was verified.

  15. swalve says:

    Ben- “Forget Comcast” is not good advice. I can’t find a cite for it, but there’s something about the deal with the collection agencies where you can settle the bill with the original creditor and the collection agency gets their money back. ALWAYS try to settle the debt with the original creditor first.

  16. aayore says:

    This reminds me of something that happened to me a few years ago: I moved, cancelled my Comcast service, and paid my final bill. Things went fine until I was contacted by a collections agency claiming I owed Comcast money. I had to file a letter of dispute with the collections agency, and when I contacted Comcast they couldn’t find any references to any outstanding payments in my name. I got it all cleared up without too much trouble, but it’s scary that Comcast can mess stuff up that badly – and with my credit score the biggest potential victim.

  17. thalia says:

    Seriously, the letter of dispute works like a dream. Two years and a half years ago I got a collection notice for $70. When I called the CCS, they refused to tell me who the money was owed to and what it was for (back then I didn’t know anything about my rights as it were so they pretty much walked all over me) until I had spent a week nagging them about it. Turns out, it was from a Movie Gallery in my old hometown for two unreturned films that I had never rented before. After several phone calls, I finally spoke to the manager (who, for the record, was awesome and called me back when he promised to), and after considerable length he admitted that a few employees had been caught renting out new releases to their friends using old accounts and decided to give me the “benefit of the doubt”. They erased the debt, but I kept getting calls. Apparently, Movie Gallery has their own collection agency, so when I called back they said not to worry about it and to just ignore the calls, so I did. After two weeks, they stopped calling.

    Flash forward to two years later, that Movie Gallery goes out of business and decide to send that old debt, which had been supposedly erased, to collections AGAIN, calling me at six in the morning every Saturday and Sunday but no one was ever on the line except for a computerized voice telling me to please hold for collection services. I looked them up online and sure enough, just as I thought, the debt was indeed for the $70 I had supposedly owed Movie Gallery two years previously. I sent them a letter of dispute similar to the one provided by Consumerist, and easy as that, they haven’t bothered me since!

    Thanks, Consumerist <3 <3 <3

  18. tdatl says:

    Depending on what the issue is and how responsive your local govt is, your city’s legal department might be of assistance. If your cable provider is a monopoly, they likely have to get approval from your city/county to raise rates. And they’re a lot less likely to get those rate increases if they’ve pissed off voting citizens.

    A few years ago after going thru about 4 weeks of hassles with Charter, my dad enlightened me: contact the city. I did, and Charter suddenly was falling over themselves to help me. My issue involved getting connected, but they actually custom ran cable to my house (new development) with a signal booster a couple of days later.

    The funny thing is that I was only interested in cable because DSL wasn’t yet available in my area. And by the time Charter ran their cable for me, it was. So I thanked them and told them I was no longer interested, and I got DSL and satellite.

  19. goodkitty says:

    @kinksville: Wait what? Shouldn’t THEY have to prove that the modem isn’t yours? They’re the ones making the claim by billing you!

  20. vermontwriter says:

    Comcast… My friend didn’t heed my warnings and just signed up with Comcast’s $99 per month for 12 months internet, tv, and phone deal. The rep she talked to told her that at the end of the year all she has to do is call them and they will extend that same price for another year. My response to her was “Yeah, right.”

    I’ve been stuck with them (only DSL/Cable internet in our area so it’s either them or dial-up) for five years and have had nothing but problems. Sometimes the problems work to one’s benefit. This same friend in her last home had Comcast cable and the technicians couldn’t figure out how to switch her to just the basic package, so they gave her everything and told her just to keep her mouth shut about it and she’d be charged the basic package price.

  21. i drive a dodge stratus!!! says:

    i dont believe there is any malice on the part of Comcast. I do believe that running a utility requires an immense amount of internal organization, which they probably have. However, all the organizational structure in the world is useless if your staff doesn’t care.

    I highly doubt Comcast pays their staff enough so that they consider their job valuable, and in turn take pride in their tasks. This is what happens when a socialist government runs amok.

  22. ChicagoConsumer says:

    Comcast is the most dysfunctional utilities I have ever dealt with. I was so happy to cancel my service in late 2006 after years of overpricing and problems. Now, I learn they have placed a 4 year old account for collection even though they never billed me (and I have not heard from the collection agency). It’s the same problem several others have – they don’t link customer accounts or keep track of anyone. I was told that the charge is for an unreturned cable box. After 3 attempts, I finally found someone who actually could even tell me that! Then, he acted like it was my fault for not knowing about the bill (the box was returned) because I didn’ t “leave a forwarding address” even though I called them to move service and continued to be there customer for the next 2.5 years! Idiots! Now, their lack of record keeping has translated to my credit score going down over 100 points. I only found out about the collection account when I went to refinance my mortgage. Thanks to Comcast, I only qualified for a higher rate. Thinking about suing over this as I have lost hope this will ever be resolved. And, given it is now in collection, I can’t pay bc this admits debt and will further lower my credit score. Why aren’t there laws protecting consumers by making a creditor actually send notice of default or meet certain guidelines before they go out and ruin your credit over what is usually not even a legit debt??

  23. Anonymous says:

    I signed up for the $75.00 bundle package that was supposed to run for 1 year AND the DVR was SUPPOSED to be FREE. The ONLY THING I was supposed to pay for was the modem for the computer. They LIED. They have been billing me all year for the DVR, saying of course that this wasn’t the deal. Gee, Did they think to tell that to the sales men who go door to door? Also, my year of service ends this month BUT they began charging me a higher rate in November! Then when I called to complain, they said to give it a couple of days and a customer service rep would call me back. I waited and a week later, they cut me off! Well, I got on my sisters phone ( I had to because they cut off my phone as well ) and called them back and they said that I needed to pay at least half of what the bill was and that if they found a discrepancy, they would adjust my future bill. They told me that if I payed with my credit card they would turn it back on so I did. That was on Friday. Well, my internet and television came back but my phone didn’t. they said that they didn’t know what the problem was and that they would need to send a tech over to take a look. Interestingly enough, they found a “bad hook-up” under my house! Funny. Nothing was wrong BEFORE they shut me off and AFTER they took $66.00 off my bill! Now they THINK they are getting $30.00 dollars for “fixing” the problem that SHOULDN’T have occurred IN THE FIRST PLACE! So, basically, I pay for THEIR SCREW UP? Does anyone else think this sounds like “LEGAL EXTORTION? Or is it just me???