Dan Blasingame's Comcast Internet service doesn't work. So why is it referring his bill to a collections agency?
Question: Two years ago I moved to a new apartment in Houston and ordered Comcast. For over three to four weeks the Internet wasn't working, going on and off every two minutes.
A technician came out, played with it for two hours, and finally said the signal wasn't strong enough, and it wouldn't work.
I then switched to AT&T. Even though I never got Comcast's service, they decided to charge me $325, and they've since sent it to collections. I've spent many, many hours on the phone with Comcast with no result. Their story changed over time. First, Comcast claimed I didn't return the receiver. Then it claimed I received service for 30 days. Unbelievable.
Please help me get this silly charge off for services they couldn't render or provide. -- Dan Blasingame, Houston
Answer: Instead of sending your bill to collections, Comcast should have quickly called you back and either helped you fix the connection you ordered or offered you a full refund. Apparently, it did neither.
Comcast's agreement for residential services suggests you owe it the money whether the service works or not.
"You will generally be billed monthly, in advance, for recurring service charges, equipment charges, and fees," it says. "You must pay, on or before the day we install any or all of the service(s), the first month’s service charges, Xfinity equipment charges, any deposits, and any installation charges."
In other words, Comcast was right -- at least according to the contract you agreed to -- to charge you. But it was also wrong because it left you with a non-working connection. A company can't charge you for something that doesn't work.
You tried to resolve this by calling Comcast. The more its story changed, the more credibility yours had. But you might have tried putting this in writing and appealing it to a Comcast customer-service executive.
This is an odd case, because any reasonable customer, or customer-service representative, should have seen the wrongness in sending your bill to a collections agency. What were they thinking?
I still don't understand how Comcast could fail to install a working connection and bill you. I asked Comcast to look into this, and it couldn't offer any additional details "due to customer privacy." But the company credited your account, dropped its collections efforts and "worked to address the issue with the reps on the team," a representative told me.
That's about as good a resolution as I can hope for.
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.