Minnesota sues Comcast over plans that 'fee people to death'
ST. PAUL -- The state of Minnesota on Friday, Dec. 21, sued Comcast-Xfinity, saying the telecommunications company failed to disclose its fees to residents in the state and didn't deliver on promises, in violation of consumer protection laws.
Attorney General Lori Swanson, flanked by frustrated Comcast customers, said the lawsuit followed two years of investigation. After dozens reported they were charged undisclosed fees or charged at a rate higher than a promotional rate they were promised, Swanson filed suit.
"They intentionally are designing a scheme to have a lower base price but then fee people to death," Swanson said.
The state in the lawsuit seeks a change in Comcast practices, repayment for Minnesota customers charged fees they didn't agree to and civil penalties for the Philadelphia-based company.
A spokeswoman for Comcast said the allegations are unfounded and the company has worked to address concerns raised by the state.
“The facts do not support the Minnesota Attorney General’s allegations and we’d like nothing more than to work collaboratively with the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office; however, they’ve raised complaints about matters that date back several years and have largely ignored our efforts to work together to address them," Jill Hornbacher said in a statement.
At a news conference, Jim Federline, of Maple Grove, said he had an internet plan with the company months ago when an employee offered to bundle cable services at no extra cost. Later, Federline received extra equipment and fees that he hadn't asked for. And after having little success speaking with customer service representatives, he brought his case to the attorney general's office.
"I feel like Comcast is embezzling from the customers," Federline said. "We don't get to choose what we're charged."
Barb Laporte, of New Brighton, said she had a similar experience. The company promised her a rate of $107 a month and ended up paying almost $60 more than that each month.
"I don't trust them," Laporte said.
Swanson recommended that consumers shop around for cable providers and get offers in writing, with specific details about total monthly rates and possible exceptions.