Ever wondered how Comcast and other cable companies get away with all the hidden fees? Well it looks like they shouldn’t have been doing it, and now the FCC is slapping a $2.3 million dollar fine on them.
Under federal law the practice of “negative option billing” is illegal. This is the practice of charging customers fees unless they opt out of it. Under federal law they are only allowed to charge fees for services customers have requested.
According to the penalty, the FCC describes “negative option billing” as the “practice of charging cable subscribers for services or equipment that they did not affirmatively request.”
Not only is Comcast being fined but they also must do the following:
- Design procedures to obtain customers’ affirmative consent before charging them for new services or equipment;
- Send customers an order confirmation, separate from their regular bill, that clearly and conspicuously describes the newly added services and equipment and any associated charges;
- Offer free tools that allow customers to block the addition of new services or equipment to their accounts;
- Implement a detailed program for dealing with disputed charges in a standardized and expedient fashion;
- Not refer an account to collections or suspend service while a disputed charge is being investigated;
- Train Comcast employees to ensure customer service personnel resolve customer complaints about unauthorized charges.
This is likely not finished because you can expect Comcast to fight this fine. If they ever pay any fine it will likely be after a long and drawn-out legal fight.
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