Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson has launched a lawsuit against Comcast Corp., accusing it of overcharging customers for its cable packages.
Swanson says that Comcast has also been charging customers for unordered products, as well as failing to deliver prepaid Visa cards.
Her main complaint against the company is how it charges for cable and internet packages, which she says locks customers into minimum-term contracts with charges that the company seemingly changes upon a whim.
Comcast attracts customers in with a promotional "base pay" for a cable package – typically a lower monthly fee for the first 12 months, which then rises after a year.
But, Swanson says, the company also adds a number of "undisclosed fees" that add 30 or more percent to their monthly cable bill.
Among these is the "Broadcast TV fee," which Swanson notes costs $10-a-month now but just three years ago was just $1.50-a-month.
Similarly, Xfinity packages charge a $8 per month "Regional Sports Fee," which started at $1 per month in 2015.
Swanson's lawsuit, she says, "accuses the company of creating these “fee[s] on its own initiative and increasing them at its own whims."
She also claims Comcast tells customers who complain about the extra fees that they're out of the company's control.
"Comcast is not, however, required by any state or federal law to collect such fees, and does so simply to generate revenue."
As for the other allegations, Swanson claims Comcast adds services or equipment – such as home security, service protection plans, or modems – to customers' bills, without permission.
As for the Visa cards, Comcast allegedly promised customers prepaid Visa cards worth up to $200 or more if they stayed in their contract and kept up on their payments for 90 days.
These cards were not delivered "to thousands of Minnesota customers."
In a statement to BMTN Comcast argues it discloses all its charges and fees, saying: "We’re fully committed to our customers in Minnesota, and it’s important to us to make sure we deliver best-in-class products and services and that our customers understand the products and services they order.
"We fully disclose all charges, fees and promotional requirements—and in fact, have made numerous enhancements in our communications with our customers over the past few years.
"The facts today simply do not support the Minnesota Attorney General’s allegations, most of which date back several years and have already been corrected.
"Our preference all along has been to work collaboratively with the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office to resolve any remaining issues the office might have. Bringing a lawsuit on the eve of the end of the Attorney General's term is simply not in the best interests of Minnesota consumers."