My Comcast Internet didn’t work, so they sent my bill to collections

By | April 28th, 2016

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.

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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.


    And this is why I do not have Comcast. Glad you got it straightened out for the OP.

  • Alan Gore

    Comcast’s strategy in sending their fake bill to a collection agency is pretty obvious: when that happens, the customer has no position. The collection agency will just claim to be an uninvolved third party, and Comcast will ‘have no record of your account’ because it’s been closed.

    Kudos for a Net-shaming operation that worked in this case, but what is needed long-term is legislation that requires collection agencies to maintain a connection with the seller of the debt that can be used to demand proof of validity if it gets challenged in a case like this, or the debt gets automatically voided. This would give collection agencies a strong incentive to buy only ‘provable’ debts, such as bank loans. It would also prevent collection agencies from pursuing debts bought from long-dead companies.

  • scoosdad

    But I don’t have a good feeling about the OP having to switch to AT&T.

  • Barthel

    Some people actually pay unjust bills like this when they get a notice from a collection agency. Collection agencies take a shotgun approach. Send out enough notices or harass enough people on the phone, and some even pay bills that they do not even owe.

  • Nancy

    Especially older people. Despite my repeated attempts to stop her, and despite her claims to be savvy financially, my mom will pay pretty much anyone who calls her on the phone claiming she owes money.

  • Nancy

    See your first mistake was expecting Comcast to be reasonable.

  • Barthel

    That’s awful. I’m 73, in law enforcement, and aware of the various schemes. Maybe you could get power of attorney and take complete control of her finances. I have been the victim of identity theft when someone opened an account with Verison using an address I had not had for 20 years and my social. I think they got it from medical records. My wife had two bogus accounts opened in her name. One was with Comcast, and one was with AT&T using two different addresses in Atlanta, GA. We live in Alabama. We have never lived in GA. We shred everything with our names on it. Again, I think they got the information from medical records. The forms you complete when you get medical services all used to ask for your social. They don’t need it. If the form asks for it, don’t put it down. We got the bogus accounts cleared up with no trouble after filing police reports. Good luck in protecting your mother from these crooks.

  • Harvey-6-3.5

    You probably already know this, but for about $30 you can have your credit frozen ($10 at each of Experian, etc.). I did this after my last refinance (when I knew that my wife and I would not regularly need credit for anything), and it give some peace of mind. It would prevent some of these accounts from being opened by crooks.

  • Barthel

    Thanks..we don’t need more credit. I knew about it but never did it. I think we will now.

  • KarlaKatz

    Yes! Although there may be an “unlocking” fee, should you need to apply for credit for a mortgage, automobile, credit card, etc. (I paid $5 the last time), the re-locking has always been free.

  • joycexyz

    Comcast! Why am I not surprised? My dealings with the billing department range from the inept to the downright psychotic.

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