Washington state to expand lawsuit against Comcast

The state of Washington yesterday announced that it is expanding a lawsuit against cable and internet provider Comcast. The state has also accused the company of discarding recorded customer service calls that the attorney general claims is evidence of the company's alleged deceptive sales practices.

Washington State attorney general Bob Ferguson said investigators uncovered more illegal conduct by Comcast as the investigation progressed, particularly as the state sought recorded customer service calls.

Philadelphia-based Comcast rejected Ferguson's new claims and added, his assertions were based on flawed methodology and assumptions. The company added it would continue to vigorously defend itself in court.

Marianne Bichsel, vice president of external affairs for Comcast's Washington Region said in a statement, "The Service Protection Plan gives those consumers who choose to purchase it great value by covering virtually all service charges over 99 per cent of the time."

According to the initial lawsuit filed in 2016, Comcast profited from the misleading service protection plan and it committed over 1.8 million violations of the state's Consumer Protection Act by charging improper service call fees and using improper credit screening practices.

Meanwhile, the office of the Attorney General said in a press release, ''Today Attorney General Bob Ferguson amended his lawsuit against Comcast to include new evidence revealing even more deceptive conduct than previously alleged."

Ferguson filed a more than one-hundred-million-dollar lawsuit against the cable television and internet giant in King County Superior Court in August of 2016. The suit asserts Comcast misrepresented the scope of its Service Protection Plan (SPP) as part of more than 1.8 million violations of Washington's Consumer Protection Act (CPA).

More than half a million Washingtonians subscribed to the SPP since 2011, paying at least $73 million to Comcast for the service plan from 2011 through the end of 2015.

A sample of recorded calls between SPP subscribers and Comcast representatives obtained by the Attorney General's Office reveal that Comcast may have signed up more than half of all SPP subscribers without their consent. Comcast deceived consumers even when mentioning the SPP, telling them the SPP plan was ''free'' when they signed up, when in fact, Comcast would automatically charge them every month after the first month.

''This new evidence makes clear that Comcast's conduct is even more egregious than we first realized,'' Ferguson said. ''The extent of their deception is shocking, and I will hold them accountable for their treatment of Washington consumers.''