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:
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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.
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
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
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
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
Christopher Ferguson's Comcast bill was bullshit. When he complained, the company offered him alternatives that cost more. So he turned them in to the FCC and got relief.
Two customers, one of Comcast and one of Time Warner Cable, told Ars that the cable providers gave them price breaks last week shortly after they complained to the FCC about what they claim are unfair billing practices.
These two complaints weren’t about net neutrality violations, but both customers we talked to seemed to be spurred into action by the FCC expanding its complaint system. Moreover, the FCC’s net neutrality order also reclassified broadband providers as common carriers, allowing for penalties if their billing practices are “unjust” or “unreasonable." The FCC has not said exactly what constitutes unjust or unreasonable pricing.
Photo: Comcast Center, Philadelphia, Mordor. Courtesy @funruly. Read the rest
Letters sent to the FCC in favor of Comcast's proposed Time Warner Cable merger came from Mayor Jere Wood of Roswell, GA; Councilor Todd Wodraska of Jupiter, FL; Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown and many other politicians -- all written in whole or part by Comcast's staffers and lobbyists. Read the rest
The City Council told its manager not to transfer the town's cable license from Charter to Comcast (Comcast is in the process of borging Charter and assimilating its customers). Read the rest
"Users who try to use anonymity, or cover themselves up on the internet, are usually doing things that aren’t so-to-speak legal; we have the right to terminate, fine, or suspend your account at anytime due to you violating the rules -- Do you have any other questions? Thank you for contacting Comcast." Read the rest
Despite denials from top Comcast execs, a leaked employee manual shows that all Comcast customer service reps, even tech support staff, are required to hard-sell every customer they deal with, using high-pressure scripts that interfere with doing their jobs. Read the rest
FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn (who's in charge of overseeing the proposed Comcast/Time Warner merger) is receiving an award, for which Comcast and Time Warner Cable are "presenting sponsors," paying $110K and $22K respectively. Read the rest
Redditor Awwwsnack was so frustrated with his troubles getting Comcast service installed that he decided to cancel. Read the rest
Tim David called Comcast to report that his self-installation after a move was running into troubles and was promised a no-charge service call. Read the rest
"The pay was great and everything else about the job was a nightmare. I remember when a 90-year-old woman called to add phone to her account and my boss told me afterwards, 'She was probably senile… but you should have upgraded her cable. I don’t think you are going to be sitting in this seat for very long.'" -- From an interview with a Comcast employee who worked in the sales department from 2011-2014.
The fallout from Ryan Block's recording of an argumentative, bullying Comcast employee keeps getting worse (or better, depending on how you look at it). The Verge asked former and current Comcast employees to share their stories of what it is like to work at the company. It sounds like a horrible place: "customer service has been replaced by an obsession with sales, technicians are understaffed and tech support is poorly trained, and the massive company is hobbled by internal fragmentation."
Even the customer support troubleshooters are pressured by their bosses to try to sell customers new services. One customer account exec says that the call center he worked in had a "whiteboard with employee names and their RGUs, or revenue generating units."
A former billing systems manager says employees are fed scripts to boost their RGU score.
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The name of the game is RGUs (revenue generating units). Even if the subscriber disconnects cable, maybe we can keep them on internet or voice. A script pops up on the screen, and then another one comes up, then another one, every single one you’re eligible for.
When the Comcast Rep From Hell insisted that Comcast had the "fastest network in the USA," he was speaking on behalf of the company -- and it was a lie. Read the rest
The internet provider's COO admits the rep's retention attempts were “painful to listen to,” but that he “did a lot of what we trained him...to do.”
On Monday, we posted a phone recording of an aggressive Comcast "Retention Specialist" arguing with a customer (Ryan Block) who wanted to cancel his service.
On Tuesday, we posted Comcast's response, which basically said, "It's all his fault, not ours"
We suspected Comcast had turned the employee into a scapegoat and our suspicions were confirmed when we read this post from former Comcast employee and Reddit user txmadison. (He provided images of his Comcast pay stubs to Slate to confirm his employment there.) Here's what he had to say about it:
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When you call in to disconnect, you get routed to the Retention department; their job is to try to keep you. The guy on the phone is a Retention Specialist (which is just a Customer Account Executive who takes primarily calls from people disconnecting their service).
If I was reviewing this guy's calls I'd agree that this is an example of going a little too hard at it, but here's the deal (and this is not saying they're doing the right thing, this is just how it works). First of all these guys have a low hourly rate. In the states I've worked in they start at about 10.50-12$/hr. The actual money that they make comes from their metrics for the month, which depends on the department they're in. In sales this is obvious: the more sales you make the better you do.
In retention, the more products you save per customer the better you do, and the more products you disconnect the worst you do (if a customer with a triple play disconnects, you get hit as losing every one of those lines of business, not just losing one customer).