Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced on Wednesday that his office has secured a settlement from Comcast/Xfinity for misrepresenting costs and a smattering of other malpractices.
The settlement calls for Philadelphia-based Comcast to issue a total of $1.14 million in refunds to 15,600 Minnesota customers. The internet provider also must pay an additional $160,000 to the attorney general’s office to cover other refund claims. Aside from those payments, Comcast is required to relieve debts for 16,000 additional customers.
“This settlement will help put money back in Comcast’s customers’ pockets where it should have been in the first place,” said Ellison in a news release. “Going forward, Comcast customers will know exactly how much they’ll pay for service before they sign up for it.”
The news comes shortly after Ellison’s office settled a similar case with internet provider CenturyLink.
The Comcast settlement, which was finalized through a consent judgment in Hennepin County District Court Wednesday, stems from a lawsuit filed on behalf of consumers in December 2018 by then-attorney general Lori Swanson.
The suit claimed that Comcast had gradually added “invented” fees to customers’ monthly bills between January 2013 and July 2017. These fees included, for example, equipment rental fees and a “broadcast TV” fee. If customers complained about the fees, Comcast would claim the fees were based on regulations and out of Comcast’s hands, according to Ellison’s office.
The lawsuit also accused Comcast of charging for unordered products and failing to deliver promised loyalty reward prepaid Visa cards.
According to a company spokesperson, Comcast rejects the validity of the accusations, but is settling the lawsuit because the company is "committed to partnering with Attorney General Ellison and others who share our commitment to improving the experience of our customers in all respects" and believes the settlement "furthers that shared goal."
Refunds will be given to any customers who did not receive the Visa cards, as well as those who were charged early termination fees for downgrading or ending their service.
Additionally, as part of the settlement’s consumer debt relief stipulation, Comcast will also inform credit bureaus that affected customers’ debts have been satisfied. Regarding its disclosure practices going forward, Comcast will now have to note any and all potential extra fees up front.
Comcast will send a claim form to all eligible customers for a potential refund. Impacted consumers can also make a claim through the attorney general’s office.