Comcast Employees Caught Taking Payments From 5,975 Customers To Permanently Lower Bills

Most of us wince at our cable bills each month, but what would you do if someone from the cable company approached you and said they could permanently lower your bill — if you gave them a one-time payment of $150?

Authorities in Pennsylvania have arrested five men and issued warrants for more than a dozen others, alleging they were all involved in a scheme to enrich themselves by accepting payments from Comcast customers in exchange for lower rates on their cable bills.

In total, at least 5,795 Comcast subscribers paid $150 each to the schemers, which shorted the Comcast coffers by around $2.4 million between April 2011 and April 2012.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, those involved in the scheme would approach Comcast customers — which in the Philadelphia area means just about anyone — and offer to reduce their bill if they paid $150.

Once the payment was made, at least one Comcast employee would change the customer’s plan through a computer that had secretly been installed at a Comcast subcontractor’s office in, well… my home town in suburban Montgomery County, PA.

But what the clever fellows forgot about Philadelphia is that you also can’t toss a rock in this region without hitting someone who works for Comcast.

So when they unwittingly made the perma-discount offer to a Kabletown employee, it set the ball rolling that ended in yesterday’s arrests.

“She was asked if she’d like to have a discount to her bill in exchange for a payment,” said the prosecutor. “This was reported by the employee to Comcast security.”

As for the those Comcast customers who paid for the insider deal, the cable company says it is putting them back into non-discounted plans, but currently doesn’t think it will chase them down for back payments.

It’s possible this scheme is just the tip of the iceberg, as one of the men arrested appears to have been involved in an earlier ruse that reportedly netted him more than $200,000.

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  1. Hi_Hello says:

    I don’t understand why they got arrested?

    I’ll pay for a discount plan. Why isn’t the discount plan for everyone!?

  2. LuvChikFilA says:

    Wow. It’s amazing they were able to hit up nearly 6000 people before getting caught!

    • jeepguy57 says:

      That’s the part that amazes me, too.

      Either they made it seem totally legit (which would be hard, since I assume they required cash, which would be a red flag), or all of these 6,000 Philadelphians lack any sense of integrity.

      • HomerSimpson says:

        Ah yes, “integrity”…something Comcast is well known for!

        • Bender6829 says:

          I remember the Simpsons episode where Homer got a pamphlet titled “So… You’ve decided to steal cable…”. HILARIOUS!

    • DaveInBillsburg says:

      Shows you the ethics of the people involved. Did they really think this was a legit discount? I wonder how many of them told their friends about this “deal” and increase the number of customers they could target.

      • Jawaka says:

        I’m not surprised. How many people purchased hacked cable boxes in the past to get channels that they weren’t entitled to get?

  3. umbriago says:

    Without passing judgement, the folks in the comments there at philly.com don’t feel too sorry for Comcast!

    I don’t wince at my cable bill. I don’t get one.

    • blogger X says:

      Mainly because a good chunk of Philly can’t get FiOS, plus they blocked RCN from selling their services here in the 90′s. F*ck them, I got FiOS a few months ago and the picture quality and sound is light years better.

  4. Lyn Torden says:

    Why are there discounted plans in the first place?

    • AtlantaCPA says:

      I’m guessing it’s for times when comcast screws up and they need to give you something to make you happy? “So to compensate you for your troubles that we caused, we’ll put you in this special discounted plan.”

      Total guess though. Could also be for VIPs like friends of the CEO?

    • dorianh49 says:

      Maybe it’s an employee-discount plan?

      • DaveInBillsburg says:

        This could be, but usually employees get huge discounts. My brother works for Xfinity in NH and he get every possible cable channel/package available and pays like $50 and his internet is free.

    • Jawaka says:

      For new customers to lure you in probably.

  5. ZachPA says:

    I wonder if these customers got their money’s worth. If so, it might just be the first time in history that consumers were scammed yet profited as the result. I do realize that Comcast was the real victim here, but it just doesn’t seem right to label Comcast as a victim, does it?

    • Chuft-Captain says:

      Actually, I don’t see where the consumers were scammed. They got what they paid for! It’s Comcrap that got scammed.

      • AtlantaCPA says:

        There are the consumers who “signed up” just recently, and haven’t seen enough discount to offset the $150 they paid yet. Those would technically be some victims too, but they knew what they were getting into.

      • StarKillerX says:

        Yeah the customers weren’t scammed, and to be honest were partners in the scam, but I’m curious what the discounted amount.

        • StarKillerX says:

          Sorry, didn’t finish.

          I’m curious what the discounted amount was.

          Using the $2.4 million over a year for 5795 customers averages just over $34.50 a month each if they all had it the entire time but it would seem that the number would have been increasing all year so it would need to be higher then that.

        • longdvsn says:

          To label the customer a ‘partner in the scam’ is pretty bold.
          Did the scammers approach them saying “hey, for $150 right now, we can collaborate to scam Comcrap into lowering your bill!” – NO! They probably made it seem like a legitimate Comcrap offer by approaching them while wearing their Comcrap contractor outfit, displaying their contractor badge, and told that the account they were wiring money to was a legitimate Comcrap-related account – such that most of these people didn’t realize they were doing anything wrong.

          I would still call them victims until evidence shows otherwise. They gave money to an individual (or business) with the anticipation that it would lead to legitimate discounted services…now they won’t have those discounted services. Thus, victims!

          • kenj0418 says:

            I agree, I wouldn’t brand the customers as crooks without more evidence. Assuming it was presented to me in a way that seamed legit I would assume either:
            1) It’s a Comcast ploy to ensure customer loyalty. I would suspect competition is about to come to town in some form.
            2) It’s a Comcast strategy to generate some short-term cash. I’d expect it to fail and a bankruptcy announcement would come soon after.

            • AtlantaCPA says:

              Having to pay the $150 with cash or wire or check made out to Joe Blow should be a giant red flag. If they tried to make the offer seem legit, people would be like “cool, so the $150 will be on my next bill?”

              I find it extremely hard to believe that people thought this was legit. They probably did some self-convincing and “I don’t want to know the details” because they knew it was under the table.

            • Joedragon says:

              Some stores have stuff like a VIP club or you can by a savings card. So it may seem legit. Even more with lines like one time offer or limited to X customs a day. Makes it even seem like a best buy like up sell.

          • MuleHeadJoe says:

            Comcrap contractor … Comcraptractor … Comcraptor

    • DaveInBillsburg says:

      As long as the discount was greater than $12.50/month they got their money worth. If my cable company offered me a $25/month discount I’d take it. If they said you had to pay $150 up front to get that, I’d still consider it.

  6. kathygnome says:

    Corruption is the inevitable result of their lack of clear and predictable pricing.

  7. The Upright Man mk2 says:

    I don’t see sympathy for Comcast being in huge supply on this one.

  8. TrustAvidity says:

    I’ve done something like this. I made a one-time payment for an HD antenna and drastically discounted my cable bill by removing the cable portion. 50mb Internet and an antenna is good enough for me!

    • samonela says:

      Aw man, I didn’t pay for an HD antenna…I must have got scammed :( [/s]

      But at least I still get those free OTA channels!

    • Razor512 says:

      If you live in a city with a lot of ota channels, then you can easily do without cable.

      I live in NY and I purchased a cheap amplified DTV antenna and get all of the channels that I watch are broadcast in 1080p and has fewer compression artifacts (my cable provider only did 1080i).

      Most of the shows I watch come on the local channels anyway, and the few that don’t, are available online (netflix and many other services offer access to the same content for a fraction of the cost (though they wont get it as soon as the cable networks, when you move to their schedule, then it feels about the same as with cable (but with 95% fewer ads).

  9. Banished to the Corner says:

    Next story: 5975 people gang up on Comcast employee they believe forced them to pay higher cable bills……..

    I do hope that the employee’s name is kept confidential and that she is given a nice monitory award for her info. e.g. 5% of the difference in each of these customer’s bills over the lifetime of their account with Comcast seems fair.

  10. Rockfish says:

    $2.4 million?

    No wonder MY Comcast bill is so fucking high.

    • Banished to the Corner says:

      Actually, it isn’t that much.

      2.4 million divided by 5,975 is $402, divide that by 12 and you get an average of 33.50 a month discount for each of these people. If they got their “discount” for 4 months or less, then they lost out; but if they got it for 5+ months, they profited.

      I don’t have any premium channels, and my Charter bill is about $80 per month. I “assume” that this package deal that these people with added to was one that came with some or all of the premium channels. My sister used to work for Comcast and I think she said she paid $30-$40 for all everything (except adult channels as she has 11 & 13 year old sons).

      • Rockfish says:

        Comcast charges me $15.00 a month extra because I do NOT subscribe to their crappy cableTV … as far as I’m concerned that puts them in the “too fucking high” category.

  11. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    Man, I live in PA and never heard of this! I want my cable bill lowered too. But to do that, I have to cancel the cable part, and just keep phone and internet. This just isn’t my day!

  12. blewvelvet says:

    I got rid of cable over a year ago..when I got an Apple TV..and with Netflix and Hulu…. I save now $100 a month..and only pay for ISP.

    SCREW CABLE COMPANIES!

    This all went on with thousands of customers… because cable companies RIP YOU OFF and pay their employees NOTHING!! So go figure! Of course both parties will do ANYTHING now in this country to survive. Cable is a drug which helps take the pain away of living in this country. now

  13. Razor512 says:

    If you work in a retention department, then you have full access to a customers account settings. You can give them unlimited free HBO, or make a “valued customer” discount that is usually 6 months, last any amount of time you want, or if you don’t mine raising a few red flags, even give a customer a permanent 100% discount on their bill (you can even pay them to use the service by adding a larger discount than the cost of the bill, the system will then automatically credit the user.

    What those workers did was basically charge users for a custom discount where they simply removed the time limit for a number of their retention department discounts.

    Them not being caught until they gave a discount to another cable worker, shows that they most likely only offered standard discounts but with no time limit (which is very easy to overlook)

  14. dicobalt says:

    Employees have special rate codes, shoulda left it alone.

  15. Abradax says:

    Whats even more amazing, when you call them to ask about a reduced rate, NO options exist and their computer system won’t even let them do it, yet these people managed to do it for 6000 customers, so the package exists SOMEWHERE.

  16. oldtaku says:

    “This was reported by the employee to Comcast security.”

    Thanks for ruining it for everyone, lady.

    (No, I don’t feel bad about Comcast not getting all of their 100% pure monopoly profit).

  17. DaveInBillsburg says:

    So how long before a story hit Consumerist “Comcast raised my bill and won’t tell me why??” Considreing they “don’t think” they will go after their customers for back fees for this that means they probably will.

  18. crispyduck13 says:

    Oh Willow Grove, you stay classy now. To be fair I had a wicked good time living there back in the day. However, they have one of the most shady-ass Comcast customer service centers I’ve ever been in.

  19. HogwartsProfessor says:

    “…what would you do if someone from the cable company approached you and said they could permanently lower your bill — if you gave them a one-time payment of $150?”

    I’d laugh myself sick. Even if I thought it were legit and I could afford to pay $150 to anyone, it wouldn’t be to cable. I’ve got other shit to pay off.

  20. genebene says:

    I remember back in the day when Comcast came into SW PA. Within a year there were so many complaints about different pricing levels and packages that a person who would have been offered a 150 dollar future discount would have jumped on it.

  21. saerra says:

    OMG Comcast needs to get on the ball if they think this is ONLY in PA.

    I’m in Atlanta, and a couple years ago had to have Comcast come out to hook up cable in a new apartment. I has the absolute cheapest package (the lifeline package, like $12/m at the time.)

    The installer started subtly asking if I’d like more channels, etc. I thought he was trying to upsell me, so kept telling him – no, it’s fine, I don’t want to pay anymore.

    Which is when he had enough of my naive replies and said, “Look, you don’t have to pay any more. Some people TAKE CARE of their cable guy, and he takes care of them! Get it? If you take care of your cable guy, he’ll take care of you.”

    Very freaky moment for me (single girl, creepy guy offering me extra channels if I “took care” of him. Yucko!)

    Sadly, I’m stuck with Comcast for the foreseeable future. I’m now in a condo, and my HOA pays for basic Comcast for all of us. I can stop using them, but I still have to pay. (Ironically my crappy cable went out this afternoon – has been out for over an hour. Comcast sucks!)

    I’d love to hear any ideas on how to convince the HOA (in a condo that is mostly elderly folks) to drop cable and let people move to OTA!

  22. PragmaticGuy says:

    It couldn’t have bothered Comcast too much. Apparently they didn’t even notice the missing money when they bought NBC/Universal.

  23. tlvx says:

    A discount! That’s it? There was a time when $150 could probably get you a cable box with all the channels working, at the bare minimum rate plan (if even that) …at least until you screwed up and called the cable man on yourself, with the itchy desire to upgrade to a DVR.

  24. Peter V says:

    I have Dish Network, I can easily or without asking get free PPV Movies Certificate Codes, $10/$20 a month Discounts & One time credits of $30+. My last bill was $88 W/Tax (from a Standard $147 W/ Tax). How much was the Discount, I was paying $271 with Internet & TV with Comcast? Switched to Dish and lowered it to around $190.

  25. ApostateApostle says:

    I would love to be on the door to door crew with this offer if it was legitimate.

  26. sonotamused says:

    So far my husband and I havent been able to locate adult gummy vitamins that DONT require 2 a day. And yes, we have looked at multiple brands, because darn it, he likes the gummies.