Comcast cranks up extra charges on cable bills, again, even for people who signed contracts promising a lower rate

Once again, Comcast is repeating its annual tradition of hiking "broadcast TV" and "regional sports network" hidden fees at a rate far above inflation, typically raising them from $14.50 to $18.25/month, rise of about 25%. Read the rest

Comcast forced to provide refunds to 20,000 customers in Massachusetts

If you were living in Massachusetts a few years back, you might remember that Comcast was offering what seemed to be a screaming deal: a $99 lock-in rate plan. I say "seemed to be," because Comcast's advertised $99 price didn't include the cost of renting equipment and the fact that, as we're talking about Comcast here, there were a number of additional fees that could (and often did) appear on a subscriber's bill at the end of the month, for reasons only Comcast understood.

Did I mention that escaping the rate plan set folks back $240 for killing their contract with the company early? No? Well, it totally did. The state's Attorney General, Maura Healey, felt that this was bullshit of the first order. Her office did something about it.

From Gizmodo:

Comcast will cancel the debts of more than 20,000 customers and pay back $700,000 in Massachusetts as part of a settlement with the state’s Attorney General over deceptive advertising. Back in 2015 and early 2016, the cable giant advertised a $99 lock-in rate for plans that didn’t include equipment costs and had additional fees that could be jacked up at any time.

As part of Comcast's settlement with the state, they'll be forced to fork over refunds to anyone who paid the $240 early termination fee. They'll also be forced to forgive all outstanding unpaid early termination fees and related late fees that Massachusetts consumers incurred between January 2015 and March 2016. Comcast fully cooperated with the AG’s investigation. Read the rest

Coalition of small cable operators calls for antitrust investigation into Comcast (Trump agrees)

The American Cable Association (ACA) represents 700+ small/medium US cable operators; they've written to the Assistant Attorney General calling for an "immediate" antitrust investigation into Comcast's business practices, a call that was supported by Donald Trump in a tweet. Read the rest

Defective Comcast security exposes 26.5m customers' partial Social Security Numbers and addresses

Comcast Xfininty's login page had an easily found bug that allowed anyone to gain access to the partial Social Security Numbers and partial home addresses of over 26.5 million customers. Read the rest

Cable industry attains the impossible: makes Americans hate it even more

Comcast is America's perennial most hated company, so it's hard to imagine how it could get even less popular, but you've got to give the company credit: on the way to growing to never-seen size and profitability, it continues to lead its ever-more-unpopular industry in customer dissatisfaction! Read the rest

Comcast charges you $90 to "install" cable in houses that are already wired by Comcast

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. Read the rest

The most hated company in America is about to get much, much bigger

Comcast is a perennial winner of national polls for the most hated company in America, and the bigger it gets, the worse it gets: back in 2011, the Obama administration let the company swallow NBC Universal, teeing it up to powerfully benefit from the destruction of Net Neutrality under Trump; now Trump is poised to let the company buy Fox and Sky, making the company bigger and more powerful. Read the rest

Comcast: if you don't subscribe to cable TV, we won't sell you high-speed internet

Comcast has found a new way to stem "cord-cutting" (cutting off your cable TV subscription in favor of subscription services like Netflix, or, as in my case, in favor of giving up on watching TV altogether); in markets where they are a monopoly or duopoly, they will reserve their highest-speed internet offerings for customers who agree to pay extra for cable channels that they don't want or need -- if all you want is internet access, Comcast will relegate you to its slow lanes. Read the rest

Washington state says Comcast stole at least $73 million from subscribers over 5 years

Washington state is in the midst of suing Comcast over misselling of its "Service Protection Plan," a nearly useless insurance plan that was sold as a way to avoid having to pay fees for faults in your Comcast cable infrastructure. Read the rest

Comcast spams social media with Net Neutrality promises, hopes you won't notice that they used to promise a LOT more

Back in 2014, Comcast was desperately trying to stop the FCC from bringing meaningful Net Neutrality regulation to the web, and they laid out a suite of promises about their future conduct, with or without the rules, including a promise not to introduce internet slow lanes that publishers who wouldn't pay bribes would be stuck in, while their spendier competitors would be able to reach Comcast subscribers faster. Read the rest

Despite Comcast's "misinformation campaign," Colorodans vote en masse to reject ban on municipal internet

The telcoms industry has aggressively lobbied state legislatures to pass laws banning cities from setting up their own internet infrastructure, even in places where there is no broadband, exacerbating the high prices and poor service that Americans pay for their internet. Read the rest

Comcast sues Vermont over the state's insistence that it actually provide decent internet

Comcast enjoys an effective monopoly over internet service in Vermont and it's about to get an 11-year extension to its permit to use billions of dollars' worth of public rights of way in the state, and in return, the state has asked Comcast to roll out at least 550 miles of new cable for "under-served" Vermonters over the 11 years. Read the rest

Comcast argues that charging customers more than the advertised price isn't false advertising

Surprise: Comcast is accused of overcharging customers. A class-action lawsuit in California alleges the telecommunications company falsely advertises its prices for services by tacking on hidden fees.

Via Streaming Observer:

According to the class-action lawsuit, Comcast has hidden fees they call the “Broadcast TV Fee,” which has increased from $1.50 a month in 2014 to $6.50 today, and a fee known as a “Regional Sports Fee” that has risen from $1 to $4.50 since 2015. Comcast has increased the fees even for customers who signed multi-year contracts for fixed monthly rates, sneaking in the fee increases after signing.

Comcast's lawyers tried to get the lawsuit thrown out of court by arguing that the hidden fees can be found in the “Subscriber Agreement” and “Minimum Term Agreement” portion of the customer contract. However, as Streaming Observer points out, these portions of the contract "do not specifically state that the media giant will charge a Regional Sports Fee or Broadcast TV fee."

The judge didn't buy it. From his order:

The motion to dismiss the breach of contract claim is denied. The plaintiffs have alleged the existence of a valid contract, which was created when [Comcast customers Dan] Adkins and [Christopher] Robertson submitted their order for Comcast services through Comcast's website. It is plausible to infer from the complaint that, by clicking "Submit Your Order," Adkins and Robertson agreed to pay Comcast's advertised price, plus taxes and government-related fees, in exchange for the services Comcast offered them. It is also plausible to infer from the complaint that Comcast breached its agreements with the plaintiffs when it sent them bills charging them Broadcast TV and/or Regional Sports Fees (alleged to be neither taxes nor government-related fees) in excess of the agreed-upon price, and when it subsequently sought to raise the amount of the fees.

Read the rest

Desperate Comcast commits copyfraud in bid to silence its critics

The good people at Fight for the Future established OPERATION COMCASTROTURF to help you figure out if your stolen identity was used to file fake anti-net-neutrality comments with the FCC, but Comcast wants them shut down, and it's prepared to commit barratry to get its way. Read the rest

Cable prices have risen at more than double the rate of inflation for 20 years

Average US inflation since 1995 has been 2.2%; in the same time, cable TV prices have increased by 5.8% per year on average. Read the rest

Dear Comcast: broadband isn't gasoline

Comcast's CEO Brian Roberts has been doing a lot of spinning lately to explain his company's plan to increase its prices (already some of the highest in the developed world) by turning on usage caps and charging up the wazoo for people who exceed them. Read the rest

Comcast's top lobbyist insists he isn't a lobbyist

Though his time is mostly spent whispering in politicians' ears, David L. Cohen narrowly escapes the contours of the highly specialized, counterintuitive US statutory definition of a lobbyist. Read the rest

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