Comcast is charging Ruth Molina $1,300 for equipment she already returned. What can she do to call off the collection agency?
Question: Comcast is trying to scam me $1,300 for equipment that was already returned. I lived in East Brunswick, N.J., for 18 years and Comcast was my cable provider for most of that time. I moved to Jacksonville, Fla., last year. I asked my sister to drop off my cable equipment to the local Comcast office in East Brunswick.
I opened a new Comcast account in Jacksonville. That's when I discovered I had a balance of over $1,300 for "equipment." I tried calling Comcast and was able to talk to someone. I don't have a copy of my return equipment bill; my sister misplaced it.
I haven't been able to resolve this. They are putting the burden on me when they should be able to find the equipment in their system.
Now Comcast has sent my account to a collection agency, which is affecting my credit. It is so unfair to have to pay for equipment I returned and don't have. It's been a nightmare. Please let me know if there is anything you can do to help me resolve this matter. -- Ruth Molina, Saint Johns, Fla.
Answer: Comcast isn't trying to scam you, but it could be more helpful in trying to resolve this. The company has a right to get its equipment back.
You entrusted your sister with the cable box (which was almost certainly not worth $1,300, but that's another issue). She should have kept the receipt for your equipment, and if she couldn't come up with it, maybe she should have taken a more active role in fixing this.
The bottom line is that you were responsible for returning the equipment, and you should have retained a receipt for the hardware. But there's plenty of blame to go around on this case.
Comcast should have associated your sister's returned equipment with you and closed your old account. Why didn't it?
Can Comcast track the returned equipment? I'm not sure if I'd give the company that much credit. Hardware is routinely recycled or discarded, so who knows what happened to your old box?
You could have appealed to someone higher up the Comcast food chain. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of Comcast's customer service executives on my site. I also have a few helpful tips on resolving a consumer complaint.
Sending a collection agency after you when you had nothing to give it was a bit hasty. Comcast employs an army of "retention" specialists who try to talk you out of leaving -- why not spare a few who can also assist you with a dignified exit? Instead, all of your calls to Comcast got you nowhere. That's unfortunate.
Needless to say, the next time you break off a relationship with a cable provider, return the equipment yourself and keep the receipt. Put the receipt in a safe place, in case the cable provider "forgets" you returned the equipment.
I contacted Comcast on your behalf. Your claim has been dropped.
Christopher Elliott specializes in solving intractable consumer problems. Contact him with your questions on his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google or sign up for his newsletter.