Following pressure from Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and his colleagues, the Federal Communication Commission’s Enforcement Bureau on Tuesday announced that Comcast will pay a $2.3 million fine to resolve an investigation into whether the company wrongfully charged cable TV customers for services and equipment that those customers never authorized.
Under the terms of today’s settlement, Comcast will pay the largest civil penalty assessed from a cable operator by the FCC and implement a five-year compliance plan.
“I asked the FCC to act after hearing from Oregon consumers who have been overcharged with cable and internet fees that they never personally authorized. Oregonians shared their stories about modem rental fees continuing even after they returned the rented equipment to Comcast, or were being charged a rental fee having never even rented a modem in the first place.”
“The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau is right to hold cable and internet service providers accountable for unnecessary and erroneous charges for both equipment rental fees and service fees that Americans didn’t consent to. Consumers should not be held captive by Big Cable’s price gouging, so I am happy to see the FCC is holding Comcast accountable for unfair billing practices.”
In February, Senator Wyden and several Senate colleagues asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler about the unfair payment practice of charging consumers equipment fees they do not owe and asked what the FCC is doing to protect consumers.
“Given the power big corporations have over American consumers, the need to stop unfair billing practices and ensure affordable cable and internet services for all Americans is all the more important,” the senators wrote.
Under the terms of the settlement, Comcast will adopt processes and procedures designed to obtain affirmative informed consent from customers prior to charging them for any new services or equipment.