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Comcast to pay $2.3 million fine over billing practices

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Staff Writer |
Comcast
Telecommunications   The largest civil penalty

Comcast will pay a $2.3 million fine for wrongfully charging customers for services they never authorized, the FCC said.

The agency said that it was responding to complaints that Comcast added charges to their bills for such things as as premium channels, set-top boxes and digital video recorders.

The FCC said that the fine was the largest civil penalty it had assessed to a cable operator.

“It is basic that a cable bill should include charges only for services and equipment ordered by the customer — nothing more and nothing less,” Travis LeBlanc, chief of the FCC’s enforcement bureau, said in a statement. “We expect all cable and phone companies to take responsibility for the accuracy of their bills and to ensure their customers have authorized any charges.”

The FCC calls such practices “negative option billing.” FCC rules prohibit a cable provider from charging for services txt the customers did not affirmatively request.

In some complaints, the FCC said, subscribers claimed that they were billed despite specifically declining service or equipment upgrades offered by Comcast.

In addition to the fine, the FCC will “adopt processes and procedures designed to obtain affirmative informed consent from customers prior to charging them for any new services or equipment.”

Comcast will also send customers order confirmations separate from any other bill that “clearly and conspicuously describes newly added products and their associated charges.”

Customers also will give customers the ability to block the addition of new services to their accounts.


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