ST. PAUL — More than 15,000 Minnesotans will receive $1.4 million in refunds under a settlement agreement between the state and telecommunications company Comcast/Xfinity.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison on Wednesday, Jan. 15, made the announcement that his office had settled with Comcast after several customers came forward with concerns about not receiving gift cards the company promised them or faced unexpected fees for service.
In all, 15,600 Minnesotans will be refunded for unwarranted charges or for services not delivered from Comcast. And 16,000 could see debt relief as a result of the settlement, Ellison said. Comcast will make the refunds to customers and former customers who'd faced unexpected charges or were asked to pay for services or equipment they didn't agree to.
And the company will pay out $160,000 to the state of Minnesota, which Ellison's office will use to provide additional Comcast customers who believe they were overbilled by the company since 2013. As part of the settlement, the company will have to prove to the state it is making the required refunds to customers and clearly articulate to customers the price they will pay for services moving forward.
"We need to be in touch with the public to make sure this enforcement of this settlement is real and meaningful," Ellison told reporters. "If Comcast doesn't tighten it up and they do new stuff, they're not in the clear."
A spokeswoman for Comcast said the company disagreed with allegations made in the lawsuit but felt it was important to settle with the state.
“Today’s settlement with the Minnesota Attorney General reflects our ongoing efforts to improve the customer experience," Jill Hornbacher said in a statement. "While we disagree with the allegations initially made in the lawsuit — which do not reflect our policies and practices — we agreed to settle because we are committed to partnering with Attorney General Ellison and others who share our commitment to improving the experience of our customers in all respects. We believe this settlement agreement furthers that shared goal.”
The announcement comes a week after the attorney general's office made public a $9 million settlement with CenturyLink over the company's improper billing practices. Minnesotans who feel they've been overbilled or misled in their billing can reach out to the attorney general's office and could receive a refund.
And Ellison said companies should be on notice that his office will take action if it hears about Minnesotans being gouged by unfair prices or practices.
Barb Laporte said she experienced years of bad billing with Comcast and wasn't sure how much she could expect from the settlement but felt relieved that his efforts to get his money back were finally paying off.
"I think the monetary amount is kind of a beside the point situation," Laporte said. "What really matters to us is that they're being held accountable and they have to know that there are consequences for their dishonest practices."
Minnesotans interested in reaching out to the attorney general's office about a refund can call 800-657-3787 or submit a claim on the office's website.