"Comcast Treats My Bank Account Like A Cookie Jar"

Of all our random corporate screw-up stories, this is one of the funniest, if only because it’s so random and so persistent. Oh wait, Kelly’s out over $100 now and Comcast keeps debiting her account whenever they feel like it. Maybe that’s not that funny after all.

Kelly writes:

I purchased a new home last November, and signed up for COMCAST’s telephone, internet and cable service shortly thereafter. I wish I knew beforehand that the choice would cost me hundreds of dollars in overcharges and countless hours of stress.

I used COMCAST’s online chat to schedule an appointment for installation during the first week of November. The representative told me the charge would be around $60, and said to have cash ready when the technician showed up.

The installation went fine, and I was pleasantly surprised when the technician didn’t request any money. He said the bill would come in the mail. When the bill arrived, I noticed that instead of being around $60, COMCAST charged me $107.45.

When I called later to inquire about the fee, I was told that the online representative’s original quote was incorrect, and that the $107.45 was actually their normal installation fee. It struck me as a classic example of “bait and switch,” but I decided to let it slide.

In March, I purchased a new computer that required installation of a cable card. A COMCAST service technician came to my house on the morning of March 26. I mentioned the situation to him, saying it was important for me to get everything on paper because I didn’t want to experience any more surprises. He told me installations were normally free, and that I had most likely been overcharged. He recommended I call COMCAST’s 800-number to request a refund.

I did so that afternoon. I talked to Lauren, rep 7K5, who somehow determined that I was overcharged $59.90. (I never understood where she got that figure, but I wasn’t about to complain.) She said she would refund the money and it would come off my next bill.

I received my monthly bill a week or two later. I noticed that not only was I NOT refunded the $60, there were also $5.16 in additional, unnecessary charges. (For two digital starters and additional outlets, neither of which I had.)

I called customer support again around 2 p.m. on April 3 and spoke with Helen, ID FFD. She agreed that I was owed $59.90 plus $5.16 in additional charges, and said she would put a new bill in the mail with a refund of $65.06.

Several days later, I received a copy of the same bill in the mail. I called customer service again, this time at 6:30 p.m. on April 8. I spoke with Dan, ID I2C, who told me that the refund would actually be added to the next statement.

I have not received that statement to see if Dan was correct, but I did receive another surprise when I logged onto my online bank account this morning (April 26). There I noticed that only one day after cashing my payment (by check) of $123.29, COMCAST deducted $74.86 out of my bank account for no discernable reason.

I called customer service this morning and reached Monica, ID N1-J. I expressed confusion about the mysterious charge – not only had I just paid my bill, but I paid by check, like I had every single month since I purchased the service back in October.

I realized that COMCAST had gotten my bank account information back in December, when I signed up for automatic payment withdraw. But I cancelled that service shortly afterward, and never processed a payment using that method. Somehow COMCAST had taken the bank account information I gave them in December and used it to siphon money from my account in April.

Monica could not find a reason why my bank account was charged, nor could she identify what the charge was for. She told me she would refund the money back into my account within four to five business days, but by then I had had enough.

It’s bad enough to be stuck with over $100 in overcharges. But now I know that COMCAST has access to my bank account, and could pull money from that account without warning or reason. (Is this even legal?) In any case, my trust in COMCAST has been completely shattered. I can only thank God that the unexpected charge didn’t cause me any overdraft fees.

Right now COMCAST owes me $139.92. But how many hours have I spent calling customer service, waiting on hold and checking and rechecking bills? Surely that is worth something – as is the unnecessary stress this continues to cause me. Right now I have little faith that COMCAST will even reimburse my $139.92 – but it will take far more than that to convince me not to take my business somewhere else. I’m not talking about getting additional money, but I would look kindly on a goodwill gesture of free or discounted service. If COMCAST is truly interested in keeping me as a customer, then I believe it’s only fair.

(Photo: melinda josie)