On August 1st, 2016, the Washington State Attorney General’s Office revealed in a press release that Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit against corporate giant Comcast in the King County Superior Court. The lawsuit alleges that the company violated the state’s Consumer Protection Act, CPA, more than 1.8 million times.
Ferguson stated in his press release that “this case is a classic example of a big corporation deceiving its customers for financial gain. I won’t allow Comcast to continue to put profits above customers – and the law.” According to the press release, this lawsuit is the first of this type that has ever been filed in the nation against a corporate giant.
Approximately one year ago, the Washington Attorney General’s office investigated the company and brought the issues contained in the lawsuit to the attention of Comcast to give them an opportunity to correct the problems. Comcast did not take any action to make changes until it realized Ferguson intended to file the lawsuit. By that time, it was too late and Ferguson moved forward to protect Washington consumers.
The complaint alleges violations in three different areas:
Service Protections Plans: The lawsuit alleges that 500,000 Washington subscribers were deceived. They purchased protection plans that were basically worthless. The plans were sold with the promise that there would be no charge for service calls to correct issues that were covered under the plan; that the comprehensive plan was promised to cover service calls on anything related to inside wiring and subscriber owned equipment; improper service charges for calls on Comcast equipment or its network to subscribers that were not covered under a Service Protection Plan; and credit screenings that were not handled appropriately.
As a result of its investigation, the Attorney General’s Office found that Comcast had bilked its subscribers out of millions of dollars. The lawsuit seeks to force Comcast to refund over $73 million dollars for restitution, over $1 million restitution for improperly charged service calls, and as much as $2,000 for each violation of the Consumer Protection Act. Comcast has discontinued selling the Service Protection Plans according to the The Seattle Times. Comcast has yet to release an official statement.
Comcast was founded in 1963 after purchasing a cable system with 1,200 subscribers in Tupelo, MS. The company has since grown to a subscriber base in the millions and now offers television programming and internet and telephone services.
Even though Comcast states on its website that the support it offers its customers is as important as the company’s products and services, the company earned the Consumerist title of 2014 Worst Company in America. Consumerist is a consumer affairs blog site owned by Consumer Media LLC.
The allegations contained in this lawsuit are a perfect example of big corporations getting richer on the backs of the consumers that rely on them for their services. Since Comcast operates nationwide, I would hope that more states will investigate and take action against Comcast if any wrongdoing is discovered.