OLYMPIA — Comcast violated Washington’s Consumer Protection Act by charging nearly 31,000 residents without their knowledge for a service-protection plan, a King County Superior Court judge ruled Thursday.
But the order by Judge Timothy Bradshaw also rejected parts of what started as a $100 million lawsuit alleging “deceptive” practices surrounding repair fees and credit checks brought against the Philadelphia-based company by state Attorney General Bob Ferguson in 2016.
Ferguson in late 2017 expanded that complaint to include allegations about the service-protection plans. Those plans — which at that time cost $5.99 per month — are intended to cover repairs for customer-owned wiring related to Xfinity voice, TV and internet service.
In Thursday’s order, Bradshaw imposed $9.1 million in civil penalties against Comcast. He directed the company to pay additional money in restitution to the affected customers within 60 days, according to a news release from the Attorney General’s Office.
The ruling found that Comcast had signed up 30,946 Washington residents to the plan without their consent, according to the news release. Additionally, the company did not reveal the true cost of the plan to another 18,660 state residents.
Adding up the multiple billings involved, the judge found more than 445,000 violations of the state Consumer Protection Act, according to the news release.
But Bradshaw rejected other parts of the complaint.
He found that Ferguson’s office did not show evidence to support allegations that Comcast billed thousands of customers for repairs of company-owned equipment, or used specific billing codes allowing their technicians “to add service charges to a normally not charged fix code.”
When asked about those findings, Ferguson, in a separate statement, hailed the ruling as “the largest trial award in a state consumer protection case in Washington’s history,” even as he acknowledged the partial defeat.
“Did we get everything we asked for? Of course not,” Ferguson said in prepared remarks. But, he added later: “Any time a judge rules that a corporation like Comcast violated the Consumer Protection Act half a million times is a big deal.”
“We’re too busy celebrating this win to start thinking about whether to appeal the two claims we did not prevail on,” he said.
In a statement Thursday, a spokesman for Comcast said the company was “pleased that the Court ruled in our favor on several of the Attorney General’s key claims and awarded less than five percent of what he was seeking in damages.”
Company spokesman Andy Colley also wrote that “The Judge recognized that any issues he did find have since been fully addressed by Comcast through the significant investments we have made in improving the customer experience and consent process, and that throughout Comcast acted in good faith.”
News researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.