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Comcast Hounded By Collections Agency 142

Posted by Soulskill
from the turnabout-is-fair-play dept.
Bob the Super Hamste writes "According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Comcast is being taken to court for non-payment by a bill collection agency it used to collect past-due payments from customers. The suit alleges that Comcast agreed to pay $5 for each account it closed and that for each account the collection agency handled Comcast would pay 33% of the collected funds. The suit is seeking $314,210 for account cancellations and estimates Comcast owes them $50,000 for delinquent funds collected."
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Comcast Hounded By Collections Agency

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  • by shentino (1139071)

    Ha ha

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      Yeah, I can't decide whether to rejoice because a collection agency got stiffed, or bust out the champagne because Comcast has been sued. Win-win!

  • by RobertM1968 (951074) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @05:04PM (#35916930) Homepage Journal

    As much as I generally hate the practices of various collections agencies (and I've worked collections), I'm rooting for a Comcast loss on this one. Serves them right with the way they treat customers, and their attempts to destroy the Internet.

    • by Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @05:08PM (#35916968)

      Agreed.

      Collections agencies behave immorally but legally, and companies sell to them because it gives them some money from past due accounts and the immorality is not directed at the company.

      But Comcast sending its past-due customers to a collections agency and then refusing to pay its own bill (simplifying the facts but taking the alleged facts to be true) is the height of hypocrisy.

      • by hedwards (940851) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @05:18PM (#35917036)

        I disagree, collections agencies aren't inherently immoral, it's just that many do end up crossing the line both ethically and legally speaking. Without collections agencies the only reason that anybody would ever pay their bills would be because it was the ethical thing to do. Consequently the cost of just about anything would likely sky rocket.

        That's not to say that there aren't a sufficient number of collection agencies that do behave illegally, but I do think that to some extent you have to recognize that it's a service that's needed and just make sure that you know your rights.

        I'm not sure about the rest of the country, but they do have to prove that they own the debt and that you are indeed responsible for paying it, if they can't do that then there are penalties for harassing people. There is also typically a statute of limitation on debt, and one shouldn't believe them when they claim that they're going to collect old debts by going to court. Collection Practices [wikipedia.org]

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Runaway1956 (1322357)

          I'll agree - collection agencies are a necessary evil. But, necessary or not, they are still evil - or most of them are.

          Oh yeah - the statute of limitations. We were given one of those damned credit cards, years ago. Didn't ask for it, didn't want it - should have just cut it up, but we ketp it laying around. One day, we NEEDED some auto repairs, and used that stupid card. Then, I got laid off, only weeks later. The bill came, and the wife sent them a letter, explaining that I was laid off of work, an

          • by Gordo_1 (256312) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @09:32PM (#35918272)

            How could anyone think it makes sense to mod this up? The initial premise (that collection agencies are evil) is not even remotely supported by the relayed story.

            P.S. Statute of limitations my ass. You and your wife are the kind of folks that make things more expensive for the rest of us.

            • No, the people who offered the credit card were in breach of contract. They PROMISED to do such and such, and instead, did thus and so. Had they made those three month's payments THAT WERE IN THE CONTRACT THAT THEY WROTE, there would have been no debt to take to court.

              It's their own fault they decided to renege on the contract, and it's their own fault that they waited for years to send the thing to collection and it's the collection agency's own fault that they didn't spot the statute of limitations thin

              • by Thalagyrt (851883)

                They did exactly what the contract says and exactly what they said they'd do: they waived the monthly payment for three months. They didn't waive a portion of the balance, they didn't pay it for you, they waived the minimum monthly payment. As such, if there was interest, you'd have interest charges, and the balance would increase a bit over those three months. There isn't any way whatsoever that "we will waive the monthly payment for 3 months" equates to "we will pay your balance for you."

                • There's missing information here, though....

                  Specifically, did the company in question resume sending bills after the 3 months were up or not?

                  If the company did not resume sending bills after the 3 months had passed, then the company has no right to send the account to collections, and he was within his rights to challenge them in court. If it were me, I would have filed a countersuit for damages caused by sending me to collections, because that would seriously affect my credit rating (which is near perfect

            • by xclr8r (658786)
              The individual in question owed money to the credit card using a service advertised by said credit card - The store != the credit card so has no bearing on prices (everyone pays).

              FYI credit cards offer rates to 'most' people from 14-22% and were making money hand over fist before the rates got that high. So again even if you want to make the claim he is making things expensive for everyone else who has a credit card you are incorrect. If you don't like it then go with a credit card that does not offe
            • by anamin (796023)

              Really sounds more like the credit issuer dropped the ball by not sending any bills indicating balance due, but yet you seem to make it out to be the problem of the these folks.

        • They aren't inherently immoral, but generally there is an attempt to get people to pay something toward debt when it is no longer required that they pay it, to reset the statute of limitations. This is basically a trick, to make them legally responsible for paying the debt. This is immoral, because it is a practice done to make someone do something very much against their interests, in a way which punishes more moral behavior, under the pretext of doing something that is both morally preferable and that s

          • but they are not moral

            Morals are subjective. But I'd say that it's more corrupt than anything else (since apparently they never had any evidence to begin with).

        • Without collections agencies the only reason that anybody would ever pay their bills would be because it was the ethical thing to do. Consequently the cost of just about anything would likely sky rocket.

          No, without enforced collections, you'd have to pay for everything before you received it. Consequently the cost of many things would plummet, some of them dramatically. And that's before counting the effects of the resulting global depression.

        • by Stray7Xi (698337) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @06:00PM (#35917242)

          I disagree, collection agencies whole intent is to be immoral (keyword being agencies, there's nothing wrong with collections). The only reason it's profitable to pay an outside company to collect debts is because they can cross those lines of morality and decency that would have landed Comcast in a PR nightmare. It's a shell game to avoid the consequences of their actions.

          Customers should be responsible to pay their debts and companies should bear scrutiny for how they treat their customers.

          • by EdIII (1114411)

            To my knowledge that is not how it works. Or, very rarely is an outside company contracted to "communicate" with the customer and get them to pay debt, while the original company is still owed.

            The vast majority of time, and this is where you hear terms like 6 month old debt, is that ABC company will sell 100,000$ worth of that debt for a percentage. A good reason to do so is that it cleans up their books. They also get to write off the difference as a loss. I am sure you heard about the "massive write-d

        • by Anonymous Coward

          You're an idiot. Seriously...you think the only reason people pay their bills is because of collection agencies, or otherwise because it's the moral thing to do?? Holy shit, man, wake the fuck up. Most people pay their bills because they want the service they are paying for.

          Duh?

          • He's talking about a bill for a service that is not ongoing.

            If you had a contractor come and install air conditioning, you could bilk him on the bill because you already got the service you didn't pay for.

            Collection agencies and morality are two major reasons why you'd pay. The third, which the GP did miss, is credit rating, which affects your ability to get services for bills in the future.

        • by sjames (1099) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @10:57PM (#35918606) Homepage

          Without collections agencies, there would just be less credit and more security deposits on monthly billings. Creditors don't want to go that way because it would make the potential buyer give more thought to how they will pay the bills later and perhaps talk themselves out of purchases they can only marginally afford.

          Most people DO pay their bills for 2 reasons. Because it's the right thing to do and because they don't want their credit rating to go down the toilet. By the time a collection agency gets involved it's generally because there is a legitimate dispute or because the person actually cannot pay the bill.

          Fortunately (sort of), my contact with collection agencies has been of the third sort, when they call repeatedly because they refuse to believe that the person they are looking for does not and has never lived here or had that phone number and that nobody who does live here has ever heard of the person.

          The problem with that is that I am not the debtor so I have no standing to insist they only contact the person through a lawyer or that they send evidence of the debt. Meanwhile, they don't believe me and are by nature asses so they keep calling from different numbers claiming to be different companies, but all with the same script.

          Since this has happened quite a few times, *I* for one would be happy to have them outlawed. They cause way too much trouble for people who are not even imagined to owe a debt.

          • by ptbarnett (159784)

            The problem with that is that I am not the debtor so I have no standing to insist they only contact the person through a lawyer or that they send evidence of the debt. Meanwhile, they don't believe me and are by nature asses so they keep calling from different numbers claiming to be different companies, but all with the same script.

            I had the same problem. I sent them a certified letter, noting exactly what you said: since I wasn't the debtor, I couldn't demand they stop calling me under the Fair Debut Collection Practices Act [wikipedia.org]

            But, if they continued to contact me after being informed that I wasn't their target and didn't know their target, I would consider it harassment. I cited the specific state law that described the offense of harassment. And I stated flatly that the next time they called me, I would be calling the police i

        • by DCFusor (1763438)
          So you think a tiny amount of people are ethical? Wow, I guess refusing to allow schools to teach right from wrong worked out great! And due to everything being everywhere these days, the threat of "I won't do any more business with you" isn't much of a threat anymore. I didn't realize y'all city boys were getting so degraded. Out here if you forget your money at the store, you just say so and pay next time. Still. Get away from that kind of "civilization" where ethics are unknown while you still can,
        • Without collections agencies the only reason that anybody would ever pay their bills would be because it was the ethical thing to do. Consequently the cost of just about anything would likely sky rocket.

          Wow, what a negative view of humanity. If that were really true, one of the few good things that would be is that the entertainment industry would have long since lost their war on piracy. Most people deal fairly most of the time, out of more than enlightened self-interest. We have these highly developed feelings that serve us well in this. We really do care that artists and children not starve, that others treat us the way we treat them, and that there is law and order. The few who don't genuinely fee

        • by idlehanz (1262698)

          The Fair Debt Collections Act (http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre27.pdf) specifies the rules for practices that are allowed. The challenge is that say a company violates this practice, the person whose rights have been impinged upon then has to decide if it is worth the cost to pursue action.

          While I haven't had to deal with this very often I have had a couple instances where I disputed a debt claim. The challenge is that even if you dispute the claim the collection agency doesn't care.

      • by Seumas (6865)

        Some collection agencies behave morally. Many do not.

        When I was eleven or twelve years old, my mom was being hounded by a collector. One day, we discovered that the outgoing/greeting on the answering machine had been changed to something absolutely repulsive about my mother. I was blamed for it, because my family had no idea that there were default codes to let you set your answering machine voice remotely and the idea that someone could have done this without physical access to the answering machine seemed

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Maybe you should check the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act [ftc.gov] and listen to some calls [youtube.com]. A fun game is seeing how many violations they can squeeze into those few minutes. If Section 813 did not make these cases so hard to prove, I guaranty there would be a ton of cases and class actions.

        • by tompaulco (629533)
          Yes, debt collectors will absolutely behave legally, once they understand that you know your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Act. Unfortunately, they can only be penalized if they continue to behave illegally after you have told them that you wish them to stop harassing you at work, on your cell phone or whatever.
          Also, debt collectors (and lawyers) seem to have a problem with their mail delivery. Apparently, they only are able to receive mail that has been sent signature verified. If you get a letter
    • by cecom (698048)

      I don't understand this irrational hate. How is Comcast trying to destroy the Internet? They have clearly defined caps, they are one of the first trying to deploy IPv6 to consumers, they offer one of the best speeds. No, they are not perfect, and they are not cheap, but as an ISP they are better than AT&T, for example.

      • by RobertM1968 (951074) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @06:01PM (#35917248) Homepage Journal

        I don't understand this irrational hate. How is Comcast trying to destroy the Internet? They have clearly defined caps, they are one of the first trying to deploy IPv6 to consumers, they offer one of the best speeds. No, they are not perfect, and they are not cheap, but as an ISP they are better than AT&T, for example.

        I've got Cablevision. I'd never give ATT a dime. As for Comcast and their faster speeds, there are odd throttles and caps on those and a plethora of other issues (research it if you dont believe me - a lot of people are already complaining about the uselessness of their Extreme105 service) making those faster speeds that cost more, not really worth it. Their customer service is horrendous. IPv6 rollout is irrelevant - it's something that has to be done. They do their damndest to filter traffic every way they think they can get away with (and that too, like the odd throttling on their fastest services, is NOT clearly spelled out anywhere).

        And for me to say that Comcast doesnt treat their customers well (which is what I consider the above to mean) has nothing to do with whether or not ATT does or doesnt either. They can both fit in the same boat with plenty of room to spare... for instance, for companies like RoadRunner or TimeWarner Cable. Remember, I never said they were the only one who fit in that category. I simply exclusively mentioned them, as the others are not relevant to this discussion (as they are not the ones being sued).

        • by cecom (698048)

          Well, I am a Comcast customer (have been for several years) and I really don't have issues, especially in the last couple of years. Before that there were service outages for about an hour every week, which was annoying as hell. The speed is reliable 5up / 20down and I haven't ever hit any throttling or caps, considering that my usage pattern is hardly typical (remote access to different machines, shared document editing, VPNs, transferring large amounts of data over SSH, etc). The only time I remember need

          • Ah... well, try their Extreme105 then, since that's what I am talking about when it comes to weird throttling and caps. Or try a bunch of bittorrent and see how fast you get throttled. I could never use them... I use bittorrent a lot (in bursts every few months for weeks straight). Oh, I should clarify, I use it for LEGITIMATE purposes, such as helping to seed our newest Star Trek Phase 2 Episodes [startreknewvoyages.com], or to grab copies off the torrent to check out what speeds our viewers should be seeing (ie: how the seeds are

            • by Coren22 (1625475)

              If you can get Verizon FiOS where you are, get it. I have it in Glen Burnie, and love it. I have 25/25, and routinely hit those speeds, have never had an item blocked (my own web server..no email server yet) and don't see throttling on my connection for any service (bittorent included).

              • If you can get Verizon FiOS where you are, get it. I have it in Glen Burnie, and love it. I have 25/25, and routinely hit those speeds, have never had an item blocked (my own web server..no email server yet) and don't see throttling on my connection for any service (bittorent included).

                I use way too much traffic (hint: see my sig) to use FIOS. At my level (from friends' experiences in the area, who use about 1/10th the traffic), they throttle, block or entirely disconnect. As I run the STP2 Post Production FTP servers, my bandwidth usage often hits into the multi-terabyte range per month... so while you haven't had a problem, I do know people running into the 100-250GB range who are (as you can see, 1/10th of my current traffic is no small number).

                And, whatever call centers service this

                • by Coren22 (1625475)

                  I am not a light user either. I run legal torrents as well, and use Netflix almost constantly while playing four clients of Eve Online, and keeping that patched on two installs (around 4 GB of patches a month there) and running my own Teamspeak, Ventrilo, and Web servers.

                  • I am not a light user either. I run legal torrents as well, and use Netflix almost constantly while playing four clients of Eve Online, and keeping that patched on two installs (around 4 GB of patches a month there) and running my own Teamspeak, Ventrilo, and Web servers.

                    Thanks. There was no typo in my post though. ;-) I really did mean TERAbytes a month (heck, the forums and website alone come close to a terabyte during busy months). Once our friends started hitting the low hundreds, they were throttled (semi lucky one), port blocked (two semi lucky friends) or disconnected (totally screwed friend). They wouldnt offer us a suitable SLA either - unless we went to (slower) business DSL or (faster) T3 and up. You don't even wanna know what those would have cost.

                    • Above post should read: "Once our friends started hitting the low hundreds gigabyte range..."
                    • by Coren22 (1625475)

                      DS3 (T= telephone, DS = data service, this is a common mistake, and I even make it in normal speech) costs approximately $1700 a month for my office. If you are hitting terabytes a month, you should be paying for colo facilities, not running it from your house.

        • by luther349 (645380)
          they also charge the most and the only reasion there caps are defined was due to a class action lawsuit. before they got forced to define a cap they would just pick on peple at random. ccomcast is the worst company to deal with. and comcast is not the fastest yes you might get better speed but enjoy it when you hit the cap and they cut your ass off. ill still be downloading happly on my uncapped dsl.
      • Comcast sucks.

        I have, a supposedly "high speed" capability on my line, and yet, I cannot watch Netflix or YouTube without substantial delays in playback. While I'm having trouble with these services, I can load up a DSL Reports Speed test and it clearly shows that my throughput is just fine, for that.

        Now, can you tell me that Netflix and Google don't have the servers to fill my pipes, while DSL Reports can?

        Mind you, on my virtually unlimited network at work (CA HSN) I NEVER seem to have these problems.

        Next

        • by Coren22 (1625475)

          Actually, Comcast is known for their problems with Netflix. As they are a cable provider, they refuse to let a Netflix server onto their network (it would compete with their offerings), and their uplink connections to the internet are often saturated.

      • by Legion303 (97901)

        "as an ISP they are better than AT&T, for example."

        Well, Pol Pot might be a brutal murderer, but as a dictator he is better than Hitler, for example. You clean up that country, Pol Pot!

  • please give them the sci-fi channel so some one can save it from what NBC did to it!

  • by Dachannien (617929) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @05:09PM (#35916974)

    Why doesn't this debt collector just use normal debt collection tactics, and call Comcast several times a day every day with threats of legal action? It's a lot cheaper than actually filing a lawsuit.

  • Serves them right (Score:4, Interesting)

    by grapeape (137008) <mpope7@kc . r r . c om> on Saturday April 23, 2011 @05:11PM (#35916986) Homepage

    I had Lindy's collection service calling my house with a robodial at all hours multiple time a day for over year...even after I explained to them that I have never had comcast and never will because they aren't even available where I live. Apparently that was some kind of confirmation to them that it was my debt. I ended up having to get an attorney friend of mine after them to get them to stop. It turned out to be someone with the same first and last name that lived in the same area code but not the same town.

    • by socsoc (1116769)
      Your lawyer friend wasn't aware of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act?
      • by grapeape (137008)

        Umm yes my attorney friend was quite aware, which is how as I stated in the original post that he was able to get them to stop.

  • I had always assumed that they would collect whatever they could, take their cut, and then pass the rest along to the client. Seems odd to me that the agency doing the collecting didn't have their money upfront on each collection.

    • The 33% is out of any money that people paid Comcast directly after their accounts had been turned over to Lindy's.
    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      I had always assumed that they would collect whatever they could, take their cut, and then pass the rest along to the client. Seems odd to me that the agency doing the collecting didn't have their money upfront on each collection.

      Collection agencies generally work one of two ways.
      1. They buy the debt outright (from Comcast) and whatever they can nag out of you is 100% theirs
      2. They are contracted to nag the hell out of you for a cut of whatever you pay to the company you owe (Comcast).

      In the first case, if you pay Comcast instead of the collection agency, the collection agency gets nothing.

  • I hope they call every VP and above at home 3-4 times a day to try to collect.
  • I can tell you they hold all the cards. They can call as often as they want and say damned near anything they want. There is even a state law that specifically allows the people making the calls to use false names to identify themselves, as long as the company name is legit. One effect of this is that after you are called by "Elvis" or "Kirby Puckett" or any other bogus name, you try to call them at the number they left and you'll never get ahold of that person because whomever answers the phone won't know who used that false name.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...we're Xfinity. Come on, let's sing the Xfinity theme song! It's fun for you! It's fun for me! Everybody do... so you're not buying it, eh? You say we're the same damned service with no quantifiable differences except a different logo and higher monthly bills? Well damn, does that mean you're going to rectally ream us out in court still?

  • Comcast is the biggest source of junk mail (paper) that I receive. Guess that's what happens when you are in Comcast territory and not a customer.

    Collection agencies are the biggest source of unwanted calls on my phone. It's a wrong number - they're after someone else. Do you think these guys would figure it out and correct their records? Of course not.

    Go for it! Sue that pants off each other! Next stop - Chapter 7. Well, I can dream.

    • by seanvaandering (604658) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {gnirednaav.naes}> on Saturday April 23, 2011 @09:41PM (#35918296)
      No, because they assume that it is the right number and your probably the people they are looking for; your just not admitting it.

      I had a collection agency almost a decade ago now actually call my inlaws and say "I'm looking for Sean Vaandering, i'm actually an old relative of his and just looking for his current phone number so I can call him up and wish him a happy birthday and send this present to him? Did you happen to have his current phone number?"

      Oh that was brilliant. Here I am, unlisted number and they come calling one day and i'm racking my brains on how the hell did they all of a sudden get my phone number!? Then my wife talks to her mom that evening and she admits that someone called earlier today asking for our phone number and wanting to ship us a gift. Thanks mother-in-law! Appreciate that. Needless to say, we settled that debt, but we were so damn close to 7 years, that it literally would have dropped off and became unreported on my credit report and a noncollectable debt. I actually had someone who used to work at a collections agency tell me in confidence that I shouldn't pay it back because once the debt falls off your credit report, the collection agency legally cannot collect it and cannot enforce any legal action against you to collect it.

      That little act cost me 7 more years of low credit score because once I actually paid it, the collection agency updated my credit report stating the R9 was paid in full - but that now means the R9 remains on my file for ANOTHER 7 years, needless to say I paid dearly when I financed a car I absolutely needed at the time (new baby, taking the bus was not in the cards).

      Today, the bank who originally sent the file to the collection agency over 15 years ago now just sent me another mailing asking me to sign up for a pre-approved Platinum $10,000 credit card. Please. Never ever in a thousand years, and i'd love to be able to blast someone there for sending me this crap, but alas, I don't want to blow a hole through some front line lackey, for something that happened probably when he was in diapers. Things are different today, and it was a very long and expensive lesson on collection agencies, but the moral of this story is:

      Do not fuck with collection agencies, they are paid for one thing and one thing only: To collect unpaid debt at any cost.

      Pay your bills on time and every time - especially if the company updates your credit report. It really is that simple. Not paying at all should NEVER EVER be an option your considering.
  • by MarkvW (1037596) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @07:03PM (#35917550)

    I will never patronize Comcast (ATT, Xfinity, or whatever) unless I have absolutely no choice. They try to get a monopoly and then they exploit it (by jacking up prices) for all they are worth.

    Support your municipal cable company!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by FLEABttn (1466747)

      Support your municipal cable company!

      Who? No, really, who is that? I have Comcast and...Comcast. I opted for neither.

  • by headhot (137860) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @07:08PM (#35917578) Homepage

    Comcast is notoriously slow to pay its vendors. If it weren't for return business I'm sure the majority would love to sue them. This vendor probably lost a contract, and doesn't want to wait the normal amount of time to get paid.

  • I'm sure Comcast is spending more than $500,000 just on lawyers. If this 'small' fee, at least in Comcast's eyes, is enough to justify the lawyers costs and media publicity, there's a good chance Comcast is in fact innocent. This of course suppose a logical assessments by the managers.
  • I find it hard to sympathize with either the deadbeats or the thugs to try to get them to cough up

  • It has become common for companies to easily pass on to collection agencies what ever they want, for the persons doing the passing on are just going through the motions of the machinery of their job, totally careless of any facts of or real people. This also extends to credit ratings.

  • Comcast's CEO got payed something like 36 Million $ last year, do you really think they care about some pissant debt collector going after them for 350k? Companies that big (Fortune 50) get sued for that kinda of money 10-15 times a year.

If it's worth doing, it's worth doing for money.

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