Comcast has violated consumer protection law by as many as 445,000 times, a Washington state court ruled Thursday. The verdict is based on the Attorney General's allegations that the telecommunications giant has signed up for tens of thousands of customers for a crappy monthly program without their consent.
Judge Timothy Bradshaw's ruling in Attorney General Bob Ferguson's lawsuit filed by Washington condemns Comcast for paying fines totaling approximately $ 9.1 million – the highest state consumer law to date according to Ferguson's office – in addition to reimbursement Thousands of customers who have not signed up for the plan.
Comcast's service plan cost $ 6 per month (it was $ 5 per month until Ferguson filed suit) and effectively covered the cost of a technician who came to your home to let them know that something was wrong is. That's … pretty much everything it has to offer, as the program's fine print contains some reservations. It was a monthly cost that did not really do you any good, yet Comcast credited them to the accounts of 30,946 Washingtoners without informing them. According to state authorities, they did not give 18,660 Washingtoners precise information about how much the program costs.
Within about five years, from 2011 through mid-2016, Comcast, with customers in Washington alone, reported sales of over $ 85 million from the Service Protection Plan, according to Ferguson. In May of last year, just before Ferguson's lawsuit was filed, Comcast pointed out on its website that the plan was "no longer available for new subscriptions."
"Comcast declined to take responsibility for its outrageous behavior, which led Washingtoners to lose money month after month for a product they did not want or wanted," Ferguson said in the press release. "Instead of remedying the Washingtonians, Comcast sent an army of corporate lawyers to court to bypass responsibility."
Of the nearly half a million violations, 240,588 were non-consensual customers who signed up for the plan, and the others either did not inform customers of the monthly costs or misrepresent them as the result of the decision. Judge's verdict that Comcast must repay all customers affected by its practices, although it is not known how much the company will cost when all is said and done. Comcast has 60 days to grant the refunds.
As Ars Technica points out, the $ 9 million fine is a record breaker at the state level, but only a fraction of the revenue earned from the monthly "service" victory you can achieve.
Update 18:05: "We are pleased that the court ruled in our favor in several important claims of the Attorney General and awarded less than 5 percent of what he sought in damages", a Comcast spokesman said in an email to Gizmodo. "The judge found that all the issues he found were fully addressed by Comcast ever since, due to the significant investments we have made in improving the customer experience and agreement process. We will continue to make significant investments in the way we serve our customers, as this is the right course of action and we are fully committed to serving our customers in Washington. "