Comcast Threatens To Cut You Off Unless You Pay $0.00

This should be an easy one to resolve. Readers Rich and Alisa doesn’t owe Comcast any money, and Comcast doesn’t want them to pay any money. Still, despite this agreement about what is owed, the cable giant still felt the need to threaten to cut off their cable.

Alisa says:

So apparently, if we don’t pay Comcast $0.00 by Monday, we’ll get cut off.

Hey, we think you should pay them. If you don’t, it says they’ll cut off your 911 service.

Comments

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  1. Ronin-Democrat says:

    Bring exact change.

  2. Admiral_John says:

    Mail them a check for $0.00. I’d like to see if it makes it to your bank.

  3. unobservant says:

    Doesn’t it cost money for them to process a VISA payment? WIN.

  4. cmp179 says:

    Write them a check for $0.00 and send it in.

  5. The Cheat says:

    Screw that, pay exactly $0.00 in urine-soaked pennies!

  6. techstar25 says:

    Mail them a check for $0.00. I’d do it.

  7. MaxSmart32 says:

    I bet they’d do it too, extra service fees and all for terminating your service on a holiday.

  8. Xerloq says:

    Grab a video camera and go to one of the walk-in locations. Tape the hilarity that ensues.

  9. Garbanzo says:

    The letter does not threaten to cut off their 911 service. It says that only 911 and 611 will be available once other service is cut off.

  10. flamincheney says:

    well, isn’t that comcastic

    c’mon someone had to say it.

  11. W10002 says:

    I know a lot of people said send a check for $0.00. But since the number zero is nothing, does this imply that what Comcast really wants is a blank check? EVIL!

  12. usa_gatekeeper says:

    Let’s hope this idiocy doesn’t affect the OP’s credit score.

  13. egogg says:

    Send in a bad drawing of a spider.

  14. azzie says:

    I’m not sure if Comcast system is able to process a payment of $0.00. So instead of sending them a check for $0.00 as many readers have suggested, mail them a check for $0.01 instead.

    Then, request a refund of overpayment to be mailed to you…

    PS. When you get it, send a copy to Consumerist :)

    • bravo369 says:

      @azzie: I was thinking this also. Make sure to request a refund for overpayment too because I think most companies will not issue a refund for a few cents. it will end up costing them money

  15. Garbanzo says:

    In college my tuition bill was $0.00 after scholarships. I had to stand in line for an hour to pay it (and get the critical PAID rubber stamping) before they would let me register for classes. I learned after that to mail in my $0 payment ahead of time, so I didn’t have to wait in line.

    • Grive says:

      @Garbanzo: Hah, same thing happened to my sister. Only sometimes it was $0.00 and sometimes it was $0.01. I guess it was a half cent per semester or something, and they just charged annually.

      I loved going to the college’s treasury and paying directly (I was studying at the same place at the time). The WTF face of the cashier made the trip worth it.

  16. Phillip Guyton Jr. says:

    This reminds me of a very funny joke i heard once; about a series of threatening letters about a 0$ amount due. the Guy wrote a check for 0$ and mailed it and and the bank called to complain that it broke their computer system.

  17. dr1024 says:

    Does this mean if you pay your monthly bill before May 25 you will be disconnected? Because if you pay your bill, you will not have paid zero dollars.

  18. BuddyHinton says:

    Damn, my program to divert the rounded-off portions of interest accrued is not working! Damn that Michael Bolton and his decimal places!

  19. Nighthawke says:

    I bet there’s a fraction of a cent still on his account that the mail merge program is not catching.

    After all: .1 of a cent rounded up is 0 cents to a program set to the $0.00 format. It’ll take a sharp CSR or high level support to clear that one up…

    EECB this one. Don’t let it slip through the cracks or they’ll get stupid (EG, send it to collections and that will ding your credit).

    • johnva says:

      @Nighthawke: How would you even get a fraction of a cent on your account, except via software error?

      • johnva says:

        @johnva: Sorry, it cut off my comment for some reason…

        I meant to add that if it is a software error, I don’t envy them the task of getting Comcast to admit that. It will be a wall of “the computer can’t be wrong” when they call in.

      • kc2idf says:

        @johnva: That is it, exactly. Monetary amounts are often stored as floating-point values. These have a tendency to be off by very small amounts, the maximum error usually somewhat proportional to the magnitude of the number (i.e. .0000001 might be of by only .0000000000000001 while 1000000000000000000 might be off by 1 or 2). This lack of precision is a daily fact of life in computing technology, and usually is small enough to ignore and correct by rounding.

        The problem comes in the logic that decides that the bill is delinquent. It should be looking at whether the balance is less than $0.01, rather than less than or equal to $0.00, in order to squash this sort of nonsense.

        • Cogito Ergo Bibo says:

          @kc2idf: @johnva: I can see that. Any time you have a prorated portion of your bill, this would come into play. The explanation makes perfect sense, but given how often they have to prorate things, you’d think they’d have a decent number of angry customers with $0.00 bills and threats of service termination! Hope they kick some Comcastic ass.

        • psm321 says:

          @kc2idf: This is why competent programmers will usually store monetary values as an integer number in cents. (so $1.99 would be stored as the integer 199)

          • David Brodbeck says:

            @psm321: Yeah, or use the special fixed-point types that some databases and programming languages offer for this kind of work.

            Honestly, this kind of issue has been known about almost as long as there have been computers. There’s no excuse for it.

            • johnva says:

              @David Brodbeck: You’re right – there’s no excuse for that kind of error.

              I’m not surprised that Comcast would hire people who are that dumb, though, given many of the geniuses I’ve encountered there (including both CSRs and “technicians” (I use that term VERY loosely) in that statement). Comcast seems to have no standards whatsoever about who they will hire. It must be a sucky place to work.

          • johnva says:

            @psm321: I was going to say exactly that. Money is NOT a floating point number, and any programmer who stores it that way is an idiot (or maybe an AIG consultant, haha).

        • Skaperen says:

          @kc2idf: You mean there are still programmers that dumb to use floating point numbers? A 64-bit integer could be used to process amounts up to $92,233,720,368,547,758.07 (and that’s a lot of movies).

        • David Brodbeck says:

          @kc2idf: If they’re storing monetary values as floating point numbers in their accounting system, they need to fire their programmers. In accounting you should *always* used fixed-point math to avoid the exact problem you describe.

          For the same reasons, good programmers who work with floating-point numbers learn to avoid using exact comparisons. Conditions like “if (amount == 0)” are bugs waiting to happen. Much better to use something like “if (amount < 0.01)”.

          • David Brodbeck says:

            @David Brodbeck: Oops, you already made my second point. My first one still stands, though.

          • SJActress says:

            @David Brodbeck:

            This is bringing back dreadful memories of C Programming classes.

            On a related note, could someone tell the Yahoo people to re-program their personalized greeting in e-mail so that BOTH of my first names show up? It pisses me off when things like that don’t look past the first null character they see. >:(

        • Nighthawke says:

          @kc2idf: *ding*ding*ding*ding*ding*

          Almost everyone’s bank accounts held fractions of a cent at one time in their existence. If they are performing the same process, then they do have a problem.

          Criminals used to shave fractions of a cent off of many accounts to build up their accounts. It’s called “salami slicing or penny shaving”. Before computerized accounting took hold, it was almost impossible, save in grocery stores and retailers to perform this kind of crime.

          But as others have posted, it’s most likely a computer error. But what triggered the error in the first place? Hence the penny shaving scheme came to mind.

          • johnva says:

            @Nighthawke: I don’t think it was any sort of “penny shaving scheme”. I think it was just somebody programming a computer system who doesn’t understand the difference between floating point and fixed point/integer arithmetic.

          • eelmonger says:

            @Nighthawke: Oh, like Superman III (Seriously we’ve all seen Office Space).

  20. Radi0logy says:

    Well, if this is the worst evil that comcast commits they definitely don’t deserve to make it to the final round of the worst company in america….

    • savdavid says:

      This is not the worst. Go back and read prior stories.

    • John Israel says:

      @Radi0logy: Wow. You’re just never going to let that go, are you?

    • FLConsumer says:

      @Radi0logy: Let’s see… Comcast claims you’re delinquent, you take a hit on your credit score and pay thousands more on your loans or worse, lose credit because of their screwup. All because you paid your bill on-time and Comcast can’t balance their own AR.

      If billing were Comcast’s only sin, this would be the first you’d have heard of them on Consumerist. Once you’ve had the misfortune of being a Comcast customer, you’ll understand the resentment and flat-out rage people feel upon hearing their name. Comcast’s asshattery has easily consumed > 100+ hours of my life.

      • Radi0logy says:

        @FLConsumer: I am a Comcast customer. They flat out simply do NOT deserve to be in the top 8 of worst companies in America. Period.

        • jc364 says:

          @Radi0logy: Perhaps for you they aren’t in the top 8. But, can you speak for every Comcast customer? How do you know that you aren’t just lucky?

          Even if only 5% of customers have had a bad experience, to me that would still be a fail.

  21. mefinney says:

    Send in a coupon. Those are typically worth 1/20 of 1 cent. Should cover it.

  22. MrPenny says:

    Sure would be nice if they had a walk-in office….could ask ‘em for change on a hundred.

    “Sorry, smallest bill I’ve got…”

  23. Anonymous says:

    Send them a check for $1. What is probably happening is that there is a $.009 or less amount on the bill. The screens of the operators are formatted to show $.01 or greater so they do not see it. The bill if formatted to print $.01 or greater so it does not print the amount. However, the program behind the scenes is told to look for anywhere there is an amount greater than 0. $.009 is greater than 0 and that means that activity needs to happen on this account. Computers can only see in shades of 1 and 0, either true or false. They cannot recognize special situations unless programmed to recognize these situations.

    Sending $1will pay off this account with some left over. You can send a smaller amount but $1 will play it safe. It will pay off whatever small amount is out there and then they can send you back the remainder.

  24. Ryan Gard says:

    Time to snag out my piggy bank full of $0 dollar bills. I never thought I’d need them ;)

  25. jeffbone says:

    Why am I not surprised it’s Comcast Maryland? Their customer service is atrocious, even by Comcast standards.

  26. pentium4borg says:

    Send them one of these: [imgur.com]

  27. tripnman says:

    Oh I so wish this had happened to me, it would give me minutes of pure joy and entertainment as I found new and exciting ways to pay $0.00.

  28. morlo says:

    Amusing, but you can just pay whatever you feel like for a credit on the next bill. Definitely not worth dealing with a CSR over

  29. Techno Viking says:

    Isn’t illegal to cut off 911. Major breach of federal rules and regulations. Rich and Alisa, if they cut off 911, you can take them to court and I am sure you will win. Seriously, I hope comcast here chokes on their idiocy.

  30. manevitch says:

    Looks like someone screwed up and didn’t set up the accounting system to round taxes up to the nearest penny. I’m sure the OP owes $.02 or so; send in a check for a penny (or pay online if it’s cheaper) and be done with it.

  31. u235sentinel says:

    Or instead of .01 cents give them your .02 cents. After all, Concast makes no sense what so ever.

  32. wickedpixel says:

    reminds me of when I had a Sprint cell phone about 7 years ago. I had prepaid 2 months of service because I was going to be traveling, then bought a new phone that I received a rebate for in the form of service credit. So I had just over 3 months of service credited to my account.
    About 3 months later I go to use my phone and it’s disconnected, prompting me to call customer service. They tell me I’ve been disconnected for non-payment for not making a payment for 3 months. I ask her what the balance due is and she tells me I have a credit of something like $2.65. I ask why they’ve disconnected me for non-payment when I don’t owe them any money and she proceeds to explain that if you don’t make a payment for 3 months you get disconnected, regardless of account balance, and the only way yo reconnect my service is to make a payment. Dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. So I make a payment via credit card for 1 cent. I tried to explain to her that it was costing the company more in merchant fees to accept my payment than just reconnecting my service without a payment but I think it was beyond her comprehension level. I soon after discontinued service with Sprint.

  33. phatch says:

    Even better. Write them a check for $0.01 and then demand they mail you a refund for the overpayment.

  34. Anonymous says:

    This happened to me with my local gas company. They kept sending me final warnings about my balance of $0.00, but whenever I tried to deal with it, I just got more warnings.

    After hitting a bunch of random buttons and repeating “Help. Customer Service. Operator” into the hold message, I got transferred to a rep who proceeded to laugh hysterically when I described my issue, but got it taken care of. I think the final tally was 5 letters sent about it, so they ended up losing money in the end.

  35. FuryOfFirestorm says:

    What next, a bill for -4.153 1/7 euros?

  36. geoffhazel says:

    Regarding computer errors: I worked at a lumber mill where we earned 8 bucks and hour, and a paycheck for 40 hours wouldn’t gross $320.00, it would be like $320.03. Really simple math coming out wrong.

    The thing is, it was always HIGHER than it should be.

    All the guys on the night shift had a pool: if the last 2 numbers of your pay matched the last 2 of the check number you won. Some new guy won it the first time he played, and it had been piling up for a while. He wasn’t very popular that day.

  37. quail says:

    In the early 90’s several cases similar to this appeared in the local papers. Utility bill, credit card bill, whatever. The people did send in checks for $0.00 and it solved the problem. The simple act of verifying a payment corrected whatever problem the database was having.

  38. Mari Walker says:

    …wow. WTG, Comcast. WTG. Has anyone sent this to the Fail Blog yet?

  39. zarex42 says:

    So just send them a check for $0.00 and be done with it.

  40. whyerhead says:

    that looks suspiciously like a letter from Credit Protection Association.. Their system sucks harder than a Dyson vacuum cleaner.

    Call Comcast, verify WTF is up, and go on.

  41. AgentTuttle says:

    Suitable for framing.

  42. watchout5 says:

    Will they at least let him play in installments?

  43. ErwinKnukka says:

    I recently moved and moved my Comcast service to my new address. They tried to charge me $300 for not returning my DVR Cable Box, even though I was still using it at my new address. I called customer service and they took care of it. They are used to dealing with this sort of thing I guess.

  44. Anonymous says:

    That is good. We just had Comcast cable installed. They required me to pay the first month in cash up front. The very next day I got a recorded phone message stating that I had to return their equipment (cable box) immediately since I had terminated the account or suffer penalties. When I called I was told that there would be a request to remove the request but that I could not know whether it was granted for 3 weeks and that I would not be notified of the outcome. Penalties could still be applied. Meanwhile the used cable box that was left ceased to function. Our cable does not work. We were pretty sure that the confused and ceaselessly babbling installer messed something up but nobody is talking. It takes an average of 20 minutes to navigate the phone maze to get to a person so we have not been able to find out much.
    All too funny!!!
    Rob

  45. Chris Stone says:

    This SAME exact thing happened to me a few months ago. I live in the Baltimore area also. I had called and they had no idea why I received the notice since my account was up to date.