Comcast fined $2.3 million by FCC for “negative option billing” practices

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The FCC announced a $2.3 million fine against Comcast on Tuesday after confirming that the company had been billing customers for products and services they had never ordered. After calling the fine “the largest civil penalty  assessed from a cable operator by the FCC,” the federal agency’s announcement detailed exactly how Comcast bilked customers—and new company practices that must be put into place as a result. According to the FCC’s Office of Media Relations, the agency had received “numerous complaints from consumers” about the issue of “negative option billing”—meaning, receiving charges for items that the customers had never affirmatively requested. (The FCC reminds readers that in the telecom world, this practice is known as “cramming.”) The listed complaints revolve specifically around items related to cable TV service, including “premium channels, set-top boxes, and DVRs.” “Despite specifically declining service or equipment upgrades” Though the FCC’s statement didn’t quote particular complaints or state how many the agency received, it described a range of unsavory reports from customers, including “being billed despite specifically declining service or equipment upgrades offered by Comcast,” “having no knowledge of unauthorized charges until they received unordered equipment in the mail,” and “expending significant time and energy to attempt to remove unauthorized charges from their bills and obtain refunds.” (Ars has reached out to the FCC with questions about specific complaints and the number received; we will update this report if we receive a response.) Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Comcast fined $2.3 million by FCC for “negative option billing” practices

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