I owe Comcast nothing, so why is it trying to collect $537?

Every now and then, a case crosses my desk that’s so egregiously wrong that I don’t have to wait to see the paperwork. It’s time to get busy.

That’s how I felt when I read Jeffrey McAvoy’s case. He’d done everything right when he returned his equipment to Comcast at the end of his contract, but still ended up getting dinged with a $537 bill, he says. To make matters worse, Comcast sent the bill to a collections agency without bothering to notify him.

Cases like this are a reminder that you can sometimes do no wrong, as a consumer, but still get into trouble. And when you do, and you fail to extricate yourself, you need a friend. That’s what we do.

McAvoy’s saga started in November 2014, when he canceled the Comcast service of his estranged wife after she died. He had been paying her bills, and the service was in his name.

“All equipment was turned in at the Trenton, N.J., service office,” he says. “They issued receipts for the equipment and assured me after very, very direct questioning — I had issues with turning in equipment with Comcast before — that I had a zero balance and nothing else would happen.”

Here’s a fact that merits repeating. McAvoy knew there could be trouble with his Comcast termination and asked for a receipt. Several times.

Fast forward to now. “On my credit monitoring service, I see Comcast put my account into collections for the amount of $537,” he says. “What account? What $537? Good questions, because I have no idea either.”

So McAvoy called Comcast.

“They transferred me to collections, which was not in service,” he says. “Cute.”

McAvoy is trying to recover from a 24-point drop in his credit score thanks to Comcast’s “incompetence and greed,” he says. And speaking for myself and my team of advocates, I am baffled at this one.

I mean, shouldn’t this have been as simple as showing Comcast the receipt it had given McAvoy, saying that he was off the hook? Yes, it should. Why couldn’t Comcast do that? Because … it’s Comcast.

Of course, I immediately contacted the company on his behalf. So far, it hasn’t responded.

Are you surprised?

Here’s something that surprises me: that a mistake like this could even be made in the first place. And what a nice guy, paying for his estranged wife’s cable bill. I have a few close relatives who are in a similar relationship, and I admire anyone who goes out of his way to be nice to someone who won’t even talk to him. That’s a true virtue.

It may not even be necessary to say this, but I will anyway. When you’re navigating the uncertain oceans of consumerism, you can dot all of your “i’s” and cross all of your “t’s” and still find yourself in treacherous currents. Problem is, it may not be worth your time to take a company like Comcast to court over a $537 claim.

But shouldn’t there be a better option? I think so, and the good people who volunteer on this site do, too. That’s why we try to be that life raft for people like McAvoy. When the system fails, we try to help. And we will.

I will pursue this case to the ends of the earth if I have to. McAvoy owes Comcast nothing. At a bare minimum, it owes him an apology, as well as compensation for his damaged credit rating.

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