The FCC’s rules prohibit Comcast and other companies from charging customers for services they didn’t explicitly sign-up for. In other words, just because you didn’t say “no” to a service or a piece of equipment doesn’t mean your telco can charge you for it. But according the settlement, customers were in some cases charged for services and equipment they did specifically decline. Some customers even claim Comcast reported them to collection agencies while while they were disputing their bills.
In May of last year, a woman in Florida added some Latino channels to her Comcast cable TV account. It was priced at around $10 a month. But when her bill arrived that summer, she claims, it said she owned more than $300, thanks to some equipment she never received and a Latino triple-play service that included voice service with international calling
This woman’s story is one of the thousands of allegations examined by the Federal Communications during its two year investigation of Comcast, and one of several cited in a settlement published by the agency on Tuesday. In the aftermath of the investigation, Comcast has agreed to pay a $2.3 million fine. That may not sound like much, but according to the FCC, it’s the largest civil penalty it has ever assessed against a cable provider. “It’s bigger than a dollar amount,” says Kate Forscey, an associate counsel for Government Affairs at the digital rights advocacy group Public Knowledge. “It’s the agency taking a stand to protect the customers who are being grifted by the cable companies. I hope this won’t’ be a one-off.” Read more from Wired