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Lawsuit Says Comcast Makes Them Rent

by Christine Stuart | Dec 30, 2009 9:30am
(1) Comment | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Courts, Legal

A class action lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court says Comcast violates antitrust law by refusing to provide digital voice-phone service to customers unless they rent a modem at additional cost.

Comcast’s digital voice customers, like the lead plaintiff in the case Robert Fromer, “have no choice but to pay an additional rental fee for a modem known as an ‘embedded media terminal adapter’ in order to utilize the DV services for which they pay a separate fee,” this lawsuit filed in New Haven says.

According to the lawsuit, even though Comcast purchases the modems from Motorola and Arris at a fixed cost it ties its digital voice service to the modem and refuses to sell the modem to its customers forcing them to rent.

The lawsuit filed by lawyers Anthony Medico and Frank Napolitano of Greenwich claims that Comcast has “sufficient economic and market power to coerce plaintiff and the Count 1 Class to pay rent for the eMTA modem and accept the tied products.”

They say because of Comcast’s position in the market “there is little incentive for other manufacturers to enter the market, and those that do are precluded from renting or selling their products.”

The lawsuit highlights Comcast’s “Frequently Asked Question” page where someone asks if they can purchase their own modem or if they have to lease it directly from Comcast.

According to the lawsuit Comcast responded by saying,” The only device that will work with your Comcast Digital Voice service is the Comcast supplied eMTA, which is delivered and installed by a Comcast technician. Currently Comcast Digital Voice is not compatible with equipment purchased elsewhere.”

A Comcast spokeswoman was unable to comment Tuesday on the claims in the lawsuit because it is pending litigation.

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Comment

posted by: David Streever | December 30, 2009  5:35pm

This is the type of the iceberg.

Comcast is an inept company, staffed by incompetents.

I moved this summer, a total of 3 blocks. All I ACTUALLY had to do was plug my modem in at my new address & tell comcast & they could turn it on remotely.

They claimed this wasn’t accurate, and they had to send a technician: 80 dollars. I insisted that the house was wired, I had the modem, & I knew how to do it and had done so before.

In return they offered me a 30 dollar “self-install” option. I take the equipment I already have & install it.

That’s bonkers. They were giving me 0 equipment. I was literally doing the work myself for 30 dollars.

I refused & they sent a tech as part of my “Self-install”. He walked in, plugged the modem in, then left.

I called them because, of course it didn’t work. You need to call in with your MAC address when it’s setup, which the tech didn’t bother to do, but he did leave me with an 80 dollar bill.

I spoke to 3 employees before I found one that knew how to turn on my modem at their hq. 30 seconds later my internet worked, but it took TWO MORE calls to get the 80 dollar charge removed.

THEN they kept my old account, which made it so I could not pay online or on the phone without talking to a rep ($4 dollars each time) and they continued billing me for the old address, even though I’d closed the account.

Their explanation: “Would you rather we closed your old account or sign up new customers? We can’t do both.”

Frankly I’d rather you closed my account. You are billing me 50/mo for service at an apartment I don’t live at.

They also refused to discuss the old account with me, 5 months old, because I didn’t live at the address, and didn’t remember my last bill for that address. Excuse me? 5 months later you want to know what I paid for the service?

It was a ludicrous, bizarre experience. They finally closed the account & may or may not still expect money from me: I have no idea because the support people refuse to disclose details of that account & continue to mail statements/bills/etc to the old address.