FCC fines Comcast $2.3 million

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) fined Comcast on Oct. 11 after the cable corporation allegedly charged customers for services or equipment they did not order.

The Communications Act and the FCC’s rules prohibits the practice, known as negative option billing, wherein “a cable provider from charging its subscribers for services or equipment they did not affirmatively request”.

The act also protects consumers from “having to take on the burden of identifying and negatively responding to” such unjust charges.

In August of 2015, an anonymous Comcast subscriber was charged over $300 for services and products she had never asked for. In the following weeks, the FCC received more than 1,000 similar complaints. The subscriber held an extensive phone call with the Comcast help line to attempt to resolve the issue, but was not satisfied.

“The person that I spoke to was sarcastic and had no customer service skills, showed no empathy for my situation,” the subscriber said in an official FCC report. “She had the nerve to ask me if I enjoyed the new service. I was so upset at this question that I asked her “how was I supposed to enjoy something I didn’t even know.”’

The fine is the largest civil penalty ever levied by the FCC on a cable operator.

Junior Alex Thorsrud, a frequent critic of Comcast’s business practices, wonders if the case should stop there.

“It’s a step in the right direction but it’s not enough,” Thorsrud said. “Enough would be solid regulations and guidelines prohibiting the shady things they practice regularly. Not allowing customers to cancel

The decision came from the FCC's enforcement bureau, one of seven branches of the organization. Among them are the consumer and governmental affairs bureau and the wireless communications bureau.
The decision came from the FCC’s enforcement bureau, one of seven branches of the organization. Among them are the consumer and governmental affairs bureau and the wireless communications bureau.

[services], charging enormous cancellation fees; it’s a really large issue.”

Comcast is known for charging exorbitant feed for cancelling their services prematurely. Some customers have reported charges in the thousands of dollars. In a press release, Comcast suggested that such unusual cases are one-off incidents and not consistent mishaps.

“We do not agree with the Bureau’s legal theory here, and in our view, after two years, it is telling that it found no problematic policy or intentional wrongdoing, but just isolated errors or customer confusion,” the release stated, “We agree those issues should be fixed and are pleased to put this behind us and proceed with these customer service-enhancing changes.”

 

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