Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison today announced that his office has settled the Attorney General’s lawsuit against Comcast/Xfinity and obtained refunds for 15,600 Minnesotans, as well as debt relief for an additional 16,000 Minnesotans. Together, the refunds and debt relief are worth millions of dollars. The settlement also requires Comcast to change its advertising practices to disclose to its customers the full amount that they will be charged for service.
“Part of being able to afford your life means knowing the full cost of what you’re getting, getting what you were promised, not being overcharged for things you didn’t ask for, and not being unfairly charged to get rid of things you didn’t ask for. But when people signed up for Comcast, that’s what happened to them,” Attorney General Ellison said. “This settlement will help put money back in Comcast’s customers’ pockets where it should have been in the first place. Just as importantly, it provides millions of dollars’ worth of debt relief. And we’ve made sure that going forward, Comcast customers will know exactly how much they’ll pay for service before they sign up for it. That should put an end to unpleasant surprises.”
Attorney General Ellison also released today an episode of his podcast, “Affording Your Life,” about the Comcast/Xfinity settlement.
The Consent Judgment filed in Hennepin County District Court today settles the lawsuit that the Attorney General’s office filed in December 2018. The lawsuit alleged that the company charged Minnesota consumers more than it promised it would for their cable services, including undisclosed “fees” that the company used to bolster its profits, and that it charged for services and equipment that customers did not request. The settlement also resolves the Attorney General’s allegations that Comcast promised prepaid gift cards as an inducement to enter into multi-year contracts, then failed to provide the cards.
The announcement of the settlement of the Comcast lawsuit comes one week after Attorney General Ellison announced the settlement of his office’s multi-year lawsuit against CenturyLink.
Under the terms of the settlement of the Comcast lawsuit, Comcast will issue refunds to:
- Minnesota consumers who did not receive their prepaid gift card as promised because Comcast did not record that they had accepted the terms of service between January 1, 2013 through July 1, 2017;
- Minnesota consumers who downgraded their cable services or who Comcast cut off from services and who paid an early termination fee between June 1, 2015 and July 1, 2017; and
- Minnesota consumers who were charged for a modem after subscribing to a cable package that included internet service but returned the modem within three months without otherwise changing their package between January 1, 2014 through July 1, 2017.
Comcast will send a claim form to all eligible consumers and will provide a refund check within 60 days after the claims period has closed. Under the terms of the settlement, Comcast is required to pay out $1.14 million in refunds.
The settlement also requires Comcast to pay $160,000 to Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, which can also be used to provide refunds to consumers. Minnesotans that Comcast overcharged at any time since 2013 can complete a contact form on the Attorney General’s website as the first step in the refund process.
In addition to refunds, Comcast will wipe clean the debt for approximately 16,000 former customers that Comcast charged an early termination fee after they downgraded or canceled their services while they were locked into a contract. It will notify the credit bureaus that the debt was satisfied so that it no longer affects those customers’ credit history. This debt relief is expected to be worth millions of dollars to those consumers.
Comcast is also required to change its advertising practices to alert customers to the full price they will pay when they receive their bill. Comcast charges several fees on top of its base price: in the past, it did not always disclose that those extra fees were charged on top of the advertised price. This will now change.