Comcast ordered to pay refunds, cancel debts for more than 20,000 Massachusetts customers

BOSTON (WHDH) - Comcast has been ordered to pay refunds and cancel debts for more than 20,000 Massachusetts customers as part of a settlement resolving allegations that the company violated state consumer protection laws by using deceptive advertisements to promote its long-term cable contracts, Attorney General Maura Healey announced Tuesday.

An assurance of discontinuance filed in Suffolk Superior Court settles allegations that the cable giant failed to adequately disclose the actual monthly price and terms of its long-term contracts for services, including failing to disclose to customers that the company could increase the price of certain monthly fees at any point during the contracts, according to Healey’s office.

“Comcast stuck too many Massachusetts customers with lengthy, expensive contracts that left many in debt and others with damaged credit,” Healey said. “Customers have a right to clear information about the products and services they buy.”

In the assurance of discontinuance, prosecutors alleged that Comcast provided inaccurate and misleading information to consumers entering long-term contracts, leaving them stuck in agreements they could not afford.

Because the company failed to adequately disclose fees that typically increased customers’ monthly bills by 40 percent above the advertised price, many were required to pay early termination fees of up to $240 to cancel long-term contracts, even when they downgraded Comcast services to a more affordable monthly package, prosecutors said.

As part of the settlement, Comcast will provide refunds to all Massachusetts customers who paid early termination fees after downgrading their service or being involuntarily disconnected by Comcast between Jan. 2015 and Mar. 2016. The company will also forgive all outstanding unpaid early termination fees and related late fees that costumers incurred between Jan. 2015 and Mar. 2016.

The settlement also requires Comcast to change its practices to improve disclosures provided to costumers before they enter long-term agreements.

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