Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) "grossly misrepresented" a service protection plan that charges subscribers $4.99 a month to insure premises cables are in working order.
On Monday, Ferguson's office announced that it is suing Comcast for $100 million, alleging that 500,000 of the state's consumers have been impacted by 1.8 million individual violations of the Washington Consumer Protection Act.
Holding a press conference in the late morning to discuss the lawsuit, Ferguson said Comcast's own customer service scripts prove the company overstated the coverage provided by the Service Protection Plan.
He said that in many cases, Comcast charged customers for wireline maintenance, despite the fact that they were paying for the service protection. In other instances, the attorney general alleges, Comcast refused to abide by the terms of the service protection plan agreement.
The attorney general also says that Washington State Comcast subscribers have paid $73 million for the Service Protection Plan since January 2011.
"This was systematic, over a period of years in which they set about to induce Washington state consumers — hundreds and hundreds of thousands of them — to put their hard-earned dollars for a product that was not what Comcast promised. That's not OK," Ferguson said.
"The Service Protection Plan has given those Washington consumers who chose to purchase it great value by completely covering over 99% of their repair calls," Comcast said in a statement, released before the presser Monday. We worked with the Attorney General's office to address every issue they raised, and we made several improvements based on their input. Given that we were committed to continue working collaboratively with the Attorney General's office, we're surprised and disappointed that they have instead chosen litigation. We stand behind our products and services and will vigorously defend ourselves."
Responding to Comcast's statement, Ferguson acknowledged that the company has "corrected some of our concerns," but said "for the better part of a year, they did nothing," and it took the imminent filing of the AG's complaint to get Comcast to take action.
"The bottom line is, I refuse to allow Comcast to put profits before people," Ferguson added.