The Washington State Attorney General’s Office has updated its ongoing $100 million lawsuit against Comcast, citing new evidence that it said reveals the No. 1 U.S. cable operator to be “even more deceptive than previously alleged.”
“This new evidence makes clear that Comcast’s conduct is even more egregious than we first realized,” said Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson in a statement. “The extent of their deception is shocking, and I will hold them accountable for their treatment of Washington consumers.”
The Washington AG filed suit against Comcast in 2016, alleging that state consumers were bilked by Comcast into buying service protection plans (SPPs) they don’t need.
In May, King County Superior Court Judge Timothy Bradshaw ordered Comcast to turn over to the attorney general’s office 1,500 recorded phone calls in which it sold SPPs to its Washington customers. Randomly sampling 150 of those calls, the AG’s office found evidence that Comcast sold SPPs to customers, even though they didn’t even know they were buying them. Worse, the AG’s office said it found evidence that Comcast sold and billed the service plans to some customers who explicitly said they didn’t want them.
"We strongly disagree with the Attorney General’s new claims," said Comcast SVP Sena Fitzmaurice in a statement. "The Service Protection Plan gives those consumers who choose to purchase it great value by covering virtually all service charges over 99% of the time. The Attorney General’s new assertions are largely based on a flawed methodology and assumptions, and today’s press conference misrepresented the facts. In fact, the court flatly rejected the AG’s mischaracterization of Comcast’s routine handling of agent call records. We will continue to vigorously defend this in court."
In its lawsuit, the AG said that, “due to limitations in the terms and conditions, the SPP often ends up failing to cover any repairs at all.
"The short coaxial cable running from a customer's outlet to the cable box is typically Comcast equipment that is covered by the Comcast guarantee rather than the SPP, as are the HDMI cables provided by Comcast, and in many houses all of the remaining wiring is wall-fished,” the suit added.
The AG said around 500,000 state residents paid about $73 million between January 2011 and June 2016 for the allegedly bogus service plan.