Washington state hits Comcast with $100 million suit over claims of deceptive marketing

Listen
(Matt Rourke/AP Photo

(Matt Rourke/AP Photo

The attorney general of Washington state has filed a lawsuit against Comcast, claiming the company violated his state’s consumer protection law by misleading subscribers about its optional repair plans. The suit seeks a reported $100 million, alleging the company engaged in a pattern of deceptive practices.

“This case is a classic example of a big corporation systematically deceiving Washington state consumers, and putting profits above those customers, and the law,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson during a press conference Monday.

The lawsuit accuses the Philadelphia cable giant of marketing its service protection plan, which costs $4.99 per month, as a “comprehensive” product, while failing to disclose to customers its significant limitations. For example, the plan does not include repairs made to wiring located inside of walls.

“Contrary to Comcast’s claims that the plan provides comprehensive coverage, it covers only a narrow scope of repairs,” said Ferguson.

Washington alleges that 500,000 residents at some point were misled between 2011 and 2015, as Comcast collected more than $73 million in subscription fees for the plan. The lawsuit also claims that Comcast improperly charged service fees to customers not enrolled in the program, and performed unnecessary credit checks on customers who chose to opt out of the screening.

In a statement, Comcast wrote it is surprised and disappointed by Washington’s litigation.

“The service protection plan has given those Washington consumers who chose to purchase it great value by completely covering over 99 percent of their repair calls,” according to the  statement. “We stand behind our products and services and will vigorously defend ourselves.”

It’s unclear if other states will follow in Washington’s footsteps. The Pennsylvania attorney general’s office said it is aware of the lawsuit.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.