Comcast Customer Service Consent Decree
As of July 1, 2017, a consent decree entered into by Comcast and the Enforcement Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) takes effect.
The consent decree arose from complaints about “Negative option billing,” which is the practice of charging cable subscribers for services or equipment they did not affirmatively request. The decree requires Comcast to adopt a set of customer service practices to prevent future problems, for at least the next five years.
- Comcast must obtain affirmative informed consent from a customer before the customer is billed for any new product. ¶ 15(a).
- Comcast is to send the customer an order confirmation separate from any bill or other invoice for any new product. ¶ 15(b).
- If Comcast determines that a charge is unauthorized, based on records or other evidence regarding informed consent, Comcast shall “shall timely provide the Customer with a refund or credit.” ¶ 15(c)(i).
- If a customer challenges a charge within 120 days after it first appears on a bill, and Comcast determines that a charge is not unauthorized, Comcast will offer to confirm that determination in writing and give the customer thirty days to make payment arrangements, or twenty days to request an escalated review by Comcast, to be resolved within thirty days. ¶ 15(c)(iii).
- Between the time a customer alleges that a charge is unauthorized, and the time Comcast makes its final determination, Comcast will not require payment of the disputed amount, impose late fees or penalties, suspend service, send the account to collections or make an adverse credit report solely on the basis of the disputed amount. There are some exceptions. ¶ 15(c)(iv-v).
- Comcast will establish and disclose blocking procedures to help prevent unauthorized product charges. Customers can opt into these arrangements at no charge. ¶ 15(e).
If anyone should encounter a violation of these conditions, please contact Fairfax County’s Communications Policy and Regulation Division (703-324-5902, CPRD@fairfaxcounty.gov).