If you move into a new place and start service from Comcast — increasingly the only way to get internet service in many places — the company will often charge you a $90 installation fee, even if the previous occupants had already installed Comcast service, and even if you buy and set up your own modem.
Comcast will often waive the fee if you agree to get TV service, something fewer and fewer people want from their cable operator, but which cable companies are grimly determined to force us to buy.
When Ars Technica's Jon Brodkin called Comcast for an explanation, they initially lied and said they never did this; then they lied and said that the order always involved talking to a Comcast rep who would waive the fee; Brodkin verified that completing the order does not involve talking to a rep.
The Comcast spokesperson told us that installation fees vary by market and on whether the company has a promotion running.
Comcast also told us that installation fees may be refunded when it turns out that no special installation was required. But it's clear that the Comcast website often forces customers to schedule a professional installation and agree to the fee in order to complete an order.
Once you've agreed to the fee and paid a deposit, actually getting a refund could be tricky. Because the default setting is a required payment, customers may not even realize it's possible to get a refund.
Comcast charges $90 install fee at homes that already have Comcast installed [Jon Brodkin/Ars Technica]