Comcast Tells Customer The Only Reason He’s Getting Bogus Charges Refunded Is Because He Recorded Call

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Comcast Tells Customer The Only Reason He’s Getting Bogus Charges Refunded Is Because He Recorded Call

Most of us have been in this situation, and probably once or twice with Comcast. You’re told by the first person that something is free, then you get a bill for it and when you call to find out why, everyone you talk to tells you you’re up Turd Creek sans rowing equipment. If only you had recorded that first call, right?

That was the smart move made by YouTuber Tim Davis [via Reddit] when he called up Comcast to complain that Internet service at his new home was spotty.

In the video above (warning: a few instances of NSFW language), Tim explains that he had moved his Comcast service with him when he relocated. At his new place, he did a simple self-install, called up the automated line, and all was well.

Then things went south within a couple of weeks and he was losing his connection for a few minutes at a time every few hours.

A call to Comcast confirmed his issue and determined that it was a problem with the cables running to the building, not anything he’d done when setting up his system.

In the video, Davis includes a brief recording of the Comcast rep telling him there will be no charge because it’s an outside issue.

The tech eventually shows up, is rude, but appears to get the job done. He does some work on the outside lines then quickly pops in to check that everything is working.

All is fine until a week or two later when Davis receives a bill that includes $99.99 for “Failed Self Install,” another $32 for “Failed Video [Self Install Kit], and $49.95 for “Wireless Network SET Up.” That’s $181.94 in total:

But, insists Davis, the problem wasn’t that he failed to do the self-install correctly or that there was a failed self-install kit, since the problem involved cables entering his property that he never touched. Similarly, the tech never set up or did anything with Davis’s WiFi system, so the set-up charge is bogus.

During his first call to Comcast customer service, a rep tells Davis that the tech installed a new coaxial cable jack. Davis not only claims this didn’t happen, but that the tech would have been required to get the landlord’s permission to do that install.

The CSR also asserts that the tech did indeed set up Davis’s wireless system, in spite of Davis’s insistence that nothing had been set up during the tech’s visit.

After being put on hold for an hour, Davis hung up and tried again, this time reaching a supposed “supervisor,” who points out that the $49.95 WiFi setup charge is offset by a $49.95 “service discount,” so that’s free… even though it shouldn’t have been charged to begin with.

She also says there is a $49.99 discount on the supposed “Failed Self Install,” meaning Davis is being charged $50 for the nonexistent failed install, plus the remaining $32 for the failed self-install kit charge. A total of $82 that is still being disputed at this point.

She then offers to give him “BLAST+” Internet service for 12 months free of charge instead of simply taking off the remainder of the questionable charges. This semi-upgrade only has a retail value of $60, meaning he’d still be on the hook for $22 for a call that he’d been told would be free.

Davis, understandably, doesn’t want a cheap Internet service upgrade spread out over 12 months. He wants and asks to have the full $82 refunded.

The rep balks, saying she can’t issue him the credit because it is a “valid charge.”

“Every time we send out a technician there’s a $50 charge for that,” she explains.

“Well, I have a call recorded where the agent tells me in no uncertain terms that there will be no charge,” counters Davis. “You can not bill me for something that I did not authorize. You can not tell me that it’s free, then bill me anyway and then tell me that you can not un-bill me or credit me for the bill.”

“I apologize for that, but there’s no way that I can credit the account,” says the rep, desperately trying to jump back on to her script. “We value you as a customer, that’s why I am trying to check what I can give you.”

She grudgingly agrees to listen to Davis’s brief recording of the initial call. He then points out to her that even if there is indeed a policy of charging customers $50 for every service call, that he is being charged a net $82 that he was never told about and had never agreed to.

The rep promises to look into the issue then call back in up to an hour. She eventually calls back later than planned, and after escalating his call one final time she tells him that the full $82 will actually be credited back to his account.

When Davis asks why she couldn’t simply do that during the earlier call, her explanation is enough to make you pound your head through a wall in frustration.

“We try to negotiate, and again, that is a valid charge,” she answers. “But since I advised my manager that there is a recording and you were misinformed, then she’s the one who can approve that $82.”

Seemingly flabbergasted, Davis asks to confirm, “You’re telling me that if I didn’t have a recording of that call, you wouldn’t have been able to do it?”

“Yes, that is correct,” answers the rep, confirming that the only way to get Comcast to erase a bogus charge from your account is to have recorded evidence that you were promised in advance that the call would be free.

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  1. LooseSasquatch says:

    These kinds of stories make me so happy that pretty soon Comcast will be the sole cable/high-speed internet provider for like two thirds of the country. . . America! Where capitalism is great and means competition except where you can spend lots of $$ to do away with any competition!

  2. StevenB says:

    Oyyy. I would at least file a complaint with the FCC and the BBB. Just to have this on record. I would’ve gone that route earlier on. Once I remotely feel that I’m being stonewalled, I bypass all of the crap and go straight to the top. Once the executive offices get those complaints, the company’s tune suddenly changes.

  3. MarkyMark says:

    Check you local state laws for recording phone conversations.

  4. ResNullum says:

    I’m not certain which is worse: the fact he wouldn’t have been treated properly without recording the call or the fact Comcast representatives insisted he had imaginary services performed. The first issue is bad, but the second issue bespeaks laziness or sheer gall.

  5. webalias says:

    Comcast wants to record you, but doesn’t want you recording them. A few years ago, I mentioned to a Comcast rep who was trying to collect money I didn’t owe that I was recording our conversation. She immediately told me that I was breaking the law by recording her, and that she was going to report me as having engaged in criminal telecommunications behavior to our state’s Public Utilities Commission. Of course, I knew this was nonsense. In Minnesota where this conversation took place (as well as 38 other states), either party may record a phone conversation without the knowledge or consent of the other. I ended up filing a complaint with our PUC, against Comcast. Basically, they had quoted one rate to which I had agreed, then called me one day out of the blue to tell me they had determined they’d been undercharging me, and I must now pay them a lot of money. You can see why Comcast doesn’t want you to record conversations with their reps — when they lie, they don’t like to be caught at it. My advice is: Never, ever have a conservsation with anybody at Comcast without recording it. Better advice yet: never, ever have a conversation with anybody at Comcast.

    • SingleMaltGeek says:

      Wow. Even in two-party states (where the law says that you need the consent of both parties to record a conversation), a Comcrap CSR knows that their company is recording the conversation, so they’ve already given consent to be recorded. (I think. IANAL, but I’ve heard this mentioned by lawyers in the past.)

  6. JoeBlow says:

    I think it’s interesting to see that “tl; dr” sidebar, though I feel the last line editorializing a potential acquisition of TWC is out of place.

    I wonder if Consumerist could get a lawyer to weigh in on recording calls, and whether or not it is acceptable to make such a recording in a two-party/all-party state. I’ve never been clear on whether or not the automated statement of “your call may be monitored/recorded for quality assurance purposes” also gives you permission to record the call for assurances of your own.

  7. dullard8 says:

    California Penal Code Section 632:

    632. (a) Every person who, intentionally and without the consent of all parties to a confidential communication, by means of any electronic amplifying or recording device, eavesdrops upon or records the confidential communication, whether the communication is carried on among the parties in the presence of one another or by means of a telegraph, telephone, or other device, except a radio, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500), or imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year, or in the state prison, or by both that fine and imprisonment.

    California Public Utilities Commission order 107-B(II)(A)(5):

    Notice of recording shall be given either:
    a. By an automatic tone warning device which shall automatically produce the distinct tone warning signal known as a ‘beep tone” which is audible to all parties to a communi- cation and which is repeated at regular intervals during the course of the communication whenever the communi- cation is being recorded; or
    b. By clearly, prominently and permanently marking each telephone instrument for company use from which com- munications may be recorded to indicate that a commu- nication of the user of the instrument may be recorded without notice; provided that this method of giving notice of recording may be used only if the automatic tone warning signal is audible to all parties to the communica- tion using telephone instruments not so marked.