Comcast fined $2.3 million for charging customers for things they didn’t want

Federal Communications Commission gave Comcast Corp. a taste of its own medicine.

staff photo
Comcast van. (Mike Mozart/Flickr)

Comcast van. (Mike Mozart/Flickr)

The Federal Communications Commission gave Comcast Corp. a taste of its own medicine Tuesday, handing the company a $2.3 million bill the telecommunications provider didn’t want.

The fine follows a two-year investigation by the FCC into whether Comcast wrongfully charged cable TV customers for services and equipment they never authorized. Comcast admitted making some “errors” in the past and has put in place improvements to address the problems, according to a news release.

“We have been working very hard on improving the experience of our customers in all respects and are laser-focused on this. We acknowledge that, in the past, our customer service should have been better and our bills clearer, and that customers have at times been unnecessarily frustrated or confused,” Comcast said in a statement.

The FCC on Tuesday issued Comcast the largest civil penalty assessed for a cable operator. The Philadelphia-based company is one of the largest internet and cable providers in Colorado.

“We expect all cable and phone companies to take responsibility for the accuracy of their bills and to ensure their customers have authorized any charges,” said Travis LeBlanc, chief of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, in a statement. “It is basic that a cable bill should include charges only for services and equipment ordered by the customer—nothing more and nothing less.”

The FCC is requiring Comcast to implement a five-year compliance plan where the company gets permission to charge customers prior to giving them new services and equipment, sends clear confirmation about upcoming new charges and allows people to opt out of paying for new services or equipment.

Comcast also has to come up with a detailed program for handling disputed charges.

“We agree those issues should be fixed and are pleased to put this behind us and proceed with these customer service-enhancing changes,” the Comcast statement said.

Business & data reporter Adrian D. Garcia can be reached via email at agarcia@denverite.com or twitter.com/adriandgarcia.

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