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Washington state says Comcast sold 'near-worthless' service plans

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Comcast is being sued for more than $100 million by Washington state, which claims that the cable giant illegally deceived customers with various customer service guarantees. Most notably, the state alleges that Comcast deceived Washington customers into paying $73 million over five years for a "near-worthless 'protection plan'" that failed to disclose many areas it didn't cover. One particular area that state Attorney General Bob Ferguson focused on was the plan's lack of coverage for in-wall wiring issues, despite Comcast allegedly claiming that wiring was covered.

"This case is a classic example of a big corporation deceiving its customers for financial gain," Ferguson says in a statement. "I won’t allow Comcast to continue to put profits above customers — and the law." In total, Ferguson's office is accusing Comcast of more than 1.8 million violations of Washington's Consumer Protection Act.

"A classic example of a big corporation deceiving its customers for financial gain."

Comcast denies the accusations, saying in statement that its protection plan "completely" covered 99 percent of Washington customers' repair calls. "We stand behind our products and services and will vigorously defend ourselves," Comcast says.

Washington also says that Comcast charged its customers for service calls that it had promised not to, and that Comcast hurt the credit score of 6,000 people through improper credit checks. Washington wants all of these fees to be repaid and for Comcast to wipe those credit checks from consumers' records. It also wants Comcast to "clearly disclose" the limitations of its service plans.

Comcast has made some disclosure changes in recent months in response to Washington's investigation. Ferguson doesn't believe that makes up for the alleged behavior, though, and says that Comcast moved slowly to correct what he sees as clearly misleading statements.

On the other hand, Comcast says it more or less thought those changes would be enough. "We worked with the Attorney General’s office to address every issue they raised, and we made several improvements based on their input," the company says. "Given that we were committed to continue working collaboratively with the Attorney General’s office, we’re surprised and disappointed that they have instead chosen litigation."

Ferguson points out that this lawsuit is the first of its kind in the US, suggesting that many of the things Washington is suing over could hold true in other states as well. If so, the outcome in Washington could lead to more lawsuits headed Comcast's way. It's not like Comcast has a sterling customer service record to hide behind.