Comcast Agrees I Didn’t Run Up $343 In Overdue Charges, Still Demands I Pay It Anyway

Image courtesy of (Steven DePolo)

Consumerist reader Kim has been spending a lot of time on the phone lately. Why, you might be asking? It’s not for the joy of listening to Comcast’s hold music and recorded messages, no, that’s not it. It’s because she says her mother was told to pay a previous tenant’s overdue bill, or not get new services set up for herself and have her account sent to collections.

Yes, you read that right: It isn’t Kim’s mother’s overdue bill — it’s a previous tenant’s outstanding balance of $343.72 — a fact Comcast has freely acknowledged.

Comcast even looked up her mother’s two previous addresses where she’d used Comcast and agreed there were no past-due balances. Comcast also provided the name of that guy.

And yet, she writes, her mother’s name somehow ended up on that bill, and she was told that if she didn’t pay the balance her services wouldn’t be restored and she’d be sent to collections.

So with the threat of collections hanging over her head, her mother ponied up the cash, and assumed it would be resolved easily the next day.

But when she called the Billing Department, she was told that only Collections could help her.

And when she called Collections, vice versa. The company was “pulling all kinds of stunts” like transferring her without warning, and disconnecting calls.

Her daughter Kim then stepped in to help her mom get a refund, and writes that she’s spent about 383 minutes, more than six hours, on the phone trying to get someone at Comcast to help her in the last week.

“Every person I talk to gives me a different answer,” writes Kim. “You have to go to a Comcast billing location, you have to call collections, you have to wait 3-4 weeks for a investigation, Oh, this happens all the time, you need to send us your lease…”

Here’s a timeline of events below, detailing Kim’s quest to simply get a supervisor on the phone.

Thursday 8/7/14
Call #1 — 21 minutes: Billing department issues a ticket, gives 3-4 week estimate to investigate the issue.
Call #2 — 12 minutes: Retention department issues a ticket to have a supervisor call her within 24-72 hours. No call yet.

Saturday 8/9/14
Call #3 — 27 minutes: Refused a supervisor when speaking with a retention rep. Hangs up and calls back in hopes of getting a more helpful representative.
Call #4 — 22 minutes: Another retention rep apologizes, escalates the ticket and promises her supervisor will resolve the issue and get back to her by Monday at the latest.

Monday 8/11/14
Call #5 —  1 hour: Yet another retention department rep gives the runaround regarding a supervisor. Puts Kim on hold to see why no one has called her back from Saturday, leaves her on hold for 35 minutes without checking in. Kim finally hangs up so she can go to work.
Call #6 — 61 minutes: During the above call, Kim calls again on her cell phone and speaks with another retention rep, who finally transfers her to a supervisor, who seems like a dream come true. He gives her a full name, listens to the entire story and apologizes profusely. After collecting a ton of information, he promises he will look into it and get back to her.

Dream supervisor calls back later that night to confirm it’s Comcast’s mistake that her mom paid the overdue bill in the first place, and says that for it to be resolved he needed to speak with the collections department, which was closed at that time. He says he’ll call at 1 p.m. on Tuesday. Today is Thursday, and he hasn’t called.

Tuesday 8/12/14
Call #7 — 22 minutes
Call #8  — 30 minutes
Kim calls and speaks with the retention department twice, and is refused a supervisor. She explains about the supervisor who gave her a full name — each rep claims to have no idea who he is, where he works and there are no notes about him in her file. Of course.

Wednesday 8/13/14
Call #9 — 23 minutes: Kim calls retention and asks politely for a supervisor again, and is told there isn’t one available. But hey — one can call her back in 24-72 hours! She explains that she doesn’t believe anyone will call her back at this point, so she’d be happy to hold. She just didn’t realize how long she’d be doing so.

“The representative put me on hold and NEVER came back for over an hour,” she writes. “I finally had to hang up.”

Here’s the pertinent audio for that call — we heard the original file and beyond approximately three minutes of talking, the rest of the one hour and 19 minutes is spent playing hold music and the chirpy voice of Comcast’s “I’m Talking To You While You’re On Hold Forever” lady:

Call #10 — 45 minutes: Kim calls the office of Neil Smit, the President of Comcast Cable. She’s put on hold for a long time, then passed to a representative in the Executive Customer Relations department who takes down more information and issues a call escalation ticket. She says an agent from her area will call her back within 24 hours.

It’s now Friday, and any time windows issued over those 10 calls have all been surpassed, and then some.

Should Kim’s mother have ever paid for a stranger’s bill? Probably not — but the threat of collections is a scary one, and not easy to resist. Once Comcast admitted it had made a mistake, the amount should’ve been refunded and the way made clear for Comcast to chase down that errant former customer on its own.

Clearly, that didn’t happen.

“What blows my mind about this whole thing is that Comcast told me the name of the previous tenant, told me it was his bill, told me my mother had no outstanding balances,” Kim says. “They have ALL this information. It’s so cut and dry yet they can’t resolve my problem?”

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