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Businesses Communications The Almighty Buck The Courts United States

Comcast May Have Enrolled Thousands in a Near-Worthless Protection Program Without Their Consent (gizmodo.com) 52

Comcast has been embroiled in a legal battle since 2016 regarding potentially deceptive business practices surrounding its "Service Protection Plan" -- a $6 a month program which covered almost nothing. But as an amended complaint recently filed by the Washington state attorney general alleges, Comcast didn't just dupe customers, it may have signed them up for the plan without their knowledge. From a report: You might expect such a plan to, uh, protect the service a customer is paying for, by decreasing or eliminating the cost of repairs in the event something goes haywire. Not so! The fine print of the program excludes in-wall wiring and some outdoor wiring. This led the attorney general to conclude that the plan "simply covers the technician visiting the customer's house and declaring that the customer's equipment is broken."
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Comcast May Have Enrolled Thousands in a Near-Worthless Protection Program Without Their Consent

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  • Is that like the fire insurance that also protects your kneecaps, only sold by Big Uncle Vinny?
  • I'm sure they did (Score:5, Informative)

    by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Friday December 22, 2017 @03:52PM (#55791387)
    this happens because call center reps are required to get a certain number of add on sales to keep their jobs. Even in rare instances where they're not the low pay means they need to push a number of these in the desperate hope they'll make enough money this month for rent _and_ food. It's a symptom of wealth inequality.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      See also: Wells Fargo. If you ever thought they were the exception and not the rule, well, exhibit A.

    • Re:I'm sure they did (Score:4, Informative)

      by haruchai ( 17472 ) on Friday December 22, 2017 @04:03PM (#55791501)

      Comcast, the Wells Fargo of the Internet

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]`

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 22, 2017 @04:13PM (#55791601)

      This has absolutely nothing to do with wealth inequality. This has everything to do with a corrupt business that can afford to be caught performing deceptive or downright fraudulent charges because the fines do not outweigh the profits.

      My wife, then going through law school, caught this charge on her first bill and challenged it with the regional manager. The manager literally said he couldn't find out how it go onto her bill (as-in, the system did not show an agent adding it) and claimed to have removed it. Whether that is true or not is anyone's guess given that it is Comcast. Low and behold, the next month rolls in and the fee was still there. Finally the next call and a more formal legal threat got it removed.

      This is a problem with the complex systems that these massive businesses build to intentionally confuse their customers, which is completely accepted by the government that affords them their local monopolies, which leads to such things being "oops" moments until they're caught because the number that catch them are always lower than the number that do not. It's not generally because some lowly call center employee is adding these because they need to eat that night. The fact that you immediately blamed the working poor rather than the notoriously evil business is quite telling about your political spectrum and your intelligence.

      • or do you just do a CTRL-F on every /. article for 'wealth inequality' and throw out a rant?

        This has _everything_ to do with wealth inequality. This is about the working poor (which 99% of call center employees are) being forced to do questionable and illegal things. Companies give employees unreasonable sales metrics and either threaten them with disciplinary action if they don't meet them and/or cut their pay to the point where it's impossible to survive without the meager bonuses. When the employees i
    • Former call center rep checking in: Yes.

      You have to meet certain metrics even when those metrics are outside your control.

      The way they work it is by saying "we understand you can't get the customer to do xxx on every call, that's why we don't require 100% compliance."

      And then in the same breath they say "how you perform with regard to these metrics directly impacts your ability to get promotions and in a situation where there are layoffs these numbers will be used to decide who stays and who goes."
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Friday December 22, 2017 @04:01PM (#55791481) Journal
    High time we stop government from engaging in such high handed tactics. The Constitution specifically prohibits the government taking property away from people without due process and compensation. Corporations are people. The contract they have with their customers is their property with great revenue potential. Government can not stop corporations from bilking their customers. It is against free markets.

    Just get government off my back,( so that the corporations can stab me there without any impediment).

  • RICO? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 22, 2017 @04:05PM (#55791523)

    At just what fucking point does someone in the government start looking at Comcast though RICO eyes? It's not that far-fetched, and is not an unrealistic or unfair viewpoint.

    Trump, you have a clown named Sessions. Do you have him doing anything useful? You know, something other than threatening to attempt to go after legal marijuana? Maybe you should tell the guy to deal with crime. You know, companies like Comcast. This shouldn't just be a matter of fines; you need to start arresting people who do things like in TFA and either they do the time, or they roll over on their bosses in exchange for immunity.

    Jeff Sessions, stop being soft on crime.

    • Yeah, I hate to agree with an AC, but this is nothing more than organized theft and should be punished as such. Throw the CEO and the board into jail.

    • At just what fucking point does someone in the government start looking at Comcast though RICO eyes?

      Unfortunately, Comcast owns too many folks in the government.

      Comcast is "too big to fail" or be held accountable for their actions. Any attempt to touch Comcast with RICO or anything else would be blocked by their "associates" in government.

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Friday December 22, 2017 @04:46PM (#55791871)

    The AG’s office said that Comcast initially refused to provide recordings because it was “burdensome.” After the judge ordered Comcast to provide calls, the company deleted 90 percent of the samples the AG’s office had requested.

    Sounds like some high up person at comcast needs to do some hardtime or at least go to criminal court over that.

    • Comcast should be nationalized and spun off piece by piece, with negligible compensation to the current stockholders. When you allow your company operate with such complete disregard for decency you as a shareholder deserve to be spit on, not rewarded.
      • When you allow your company operate with such complete disregard for decency you as a shareholder deserve to be spit on, not rewarded.

        Yeah! Because I heard from someone that every stockholder in Comcast has the personal telephone number of the Comcast CEO and the ability to walk into his office and fire him!

        Get a grip, please. The vast majority of Comcast stockholders probably don't even know they own Comcast stock, and certainly don't have controlling interest in the company to the point they could order this stopped. That is, it's probably a major component of many retirement portfolios, so it's held by middle income people who have r

  • by SlaveToTheGrind ( 546262 ) on Friday December 22, 2017 @04:51PM (#55791911)

    For most if not all of the providers I've had over the years, there was a significant fee for the tech visit if the problem ended up being on your end, and that's true with Comcast as well. Looks like they're running around $70 per trip at the moment, and for $6 a month, that fee gets waived. So the break-even is about a year between visits. Depending on the condition of your internal wiring and your personal troubleshooting abilities, that may not be a bad deal.

    Automatically signing people up is a different issue, but it seems a bit much to say that the program is "near-worthless."

    • It's a ripoff. I have never had to have a tech come to my house except ONCE years ago. No charge because they changed the cable coming to the house as the old cable was the original from the 70's.
      • It's a ripoff. I have never had to have a tech come to my house except ONCE years ago.

        And some people get visits more often. The dog chews the cable, it's pinched in a door, pulled from the wall. The same kid who tried putting the peanut butter sandwich in the VCR spilled his juice box on the converter. Or the cheap Chinese splitter you put in the line to hook up your own stuff is marginal enough that it failed after six months or because the incoming signal level dropped a dB or two. Or you installed it and never noticed that the upper frequency channels didn't come in well, and now you hav

  • If I come up with a newfangled name for a service and provide a 5 page contract that says in very convoluted terms the service doesn't do anything but because of my salesmanship I get you to buy it, is that illegal? Some kind of fraud?

    Or is it just considered good salesmanship, and the fact that the sale was consensual and I didn't withhold any material facts make it A-OK?

    I'm trying to think of a way that this could be made illegal, or at least greatly discourage companies from doing it. If you sue them f

    • It is illegal. For a contract to be valid, it must have some tangible benefit to both parties, otherwise the contract instantly becomes invalid. The benefit can be small to one of the parties, but it must exist.
      • by swb ( 14022 )

        I wonder how they determine tangible benefit. I've had homeowner's insurance for 20 years and never gotten a dime out of it. You'd think insurance would be some kind of loophole.

        • Wouldn't have to be. They would just have to look at the customers in aggregate. If nobody had a claim for 20 years, then there's no tangible benefit. Though flood insurance would have to look at a much longer period of time depending on where you live.

    • I don't know - ask the CEO of LifeLock.

  • Their name needs to become an adjective , just like google became a verb. Maybe when their name literally translates to scummy customer service they will finally get a clue. Or at least have to pay the financial price to change their name and re-brand. Somehow they must be punished. .
  • AT&T did this to us. Investigate those fuckers.

  • Most of their service techs are subcontractors, at least in my area, and they don't know anything. I've had a "Comcast tech" to my house 3 times in about as many years and not once could I actually get this person to enter my house and look at anything because my net was back up and running at the time (usually several days before they arrived). It took my mom calling and leaning on her medical need for working internet to report her pacemaker results for them to fix the problem, which I always knew was at

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