PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — After a nearly two year investigation into customer billing complaints, the Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau announced that cable giant Comcast will pay a $2.3 million fine. It’s the largest civil penalty the FCC has ever assessed on a cable operator.
Comcast says the billing issues were not intentional, but the company has also agreed to change a number of policies to improve communication with customers and clearly explain new charges.
“You’ll have a bill that’s five dollars more expensive, ten dollars more expensive,” said Anton Levchenko, a Comcast customer. “I guess it’s the same issue people are complaining about.”
Tina Wilson is one of more than a thousand customers who reached out to the FCC over a Comcast cable service billing dispute.
“My services went from 80 dollars a month to 200 dollars a month,” she said.
Consumers told the FCC they were charged for equipment and services they never agreed to, and that getting refunds was a lengthy and harrowing process.
“It took a good, probably a month to get that corrected,” Wilson said. “And it took hours. Hours and hours of phone calls.”
Other customers said they’ve had a good experience with Comcast and saw nothing wrong with the billing.
“If a cable company gives you a package deal, and you agree to it, it should be fine,” said Michael Dilberian, a longtime Comcast cable subscriber. “To keep track of every little single station or package that includes into a package you’d be changing billing all the time.”
In a statement, Comcast wrote in part:
“We do not agree with the Bureau’s legal theory here, and in our view, after two years, it is telling that it found no problematic policy or intentional wrongdoing, but just isolated errors or customer confusion. We agree those issues should be fixed and are pleased to put this behind us and proceed with these customer service-enhancing changes.”
An FCC spokesman said Comcast refunded customers who reached out with billing disputes and that the fine money is going to the U.S. Treasury.
Comcast will also have to submit a 90 day report and then annual reports to the FCC over the next five years.