- Associated Press - Friday, June 7, 2019

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - A judge has imposed more than $9 million in penalties against cable and internet provider Comcast after finding more than 445,000 violations of Washington state’s Consumer Protection Act.

The Seattle Times reports the judge ruled Thursday that Comcast violated the law when it charged nearly 31,000 people for service protection plans without their consent.

State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed the initial lawsuit in 2016, claiming Comcast committed nearly 2 million violations and profited from misleading plans.

The judge ruled that the attorney general’s office did not back claims that Comcast billed thousands for repairs of company-owned equipment or allowed service charges by using certain billing codes.

Company spokesman Andy Colley says the ruling recognized that Comcast has already addressed the issues by improving customer service and the consent process.

The ruling found that Comcast had signed up 30,946 Washington residents to the plan without their consent, according to the news release. Additionally, the company did not reveal the true cost of the plan to another 18,660 state residents.

Adding up the multiple billings involved, the judge found more than 445,000 violations of the state Consumer Protection Act.

But Bradshaw rejected other parts of the complaint.

He found that Ferguson’s office did not show evidence to support allegations that Comcast billed thousands of customers for repairs of company-owned equipment, or used specific billing codes allowing their technicians “to add service charges to a normally not charged fix code.”

When asked about those findings, Ferguson, in a separate statement, hailed the ruling as “the largest trial award in a state consumer protection case in Washington’s history,” even as he acknowledged the partial defeat.

“Did we get everything we asked for? Of course not,” Ferguson said in prepared remarks. But, he added later: “Any time a judge rules that a corporation like Comcast violated the Consumer Protection Act half a million times is a big deal.”


Information from: The Seattle Times, http://www.seattletimes.com

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