Last month, when we warned that consumer rights were being threatened by a little pamphlet quietly slipped into cable bills by Comcast, there was an outcry from Comcast customers. Now elected officials in Maryland are taking notice.
Today, the Washington Post reports that the Montgomery County Executive and at least one member of the state legislature are taking extraordinary steps to alert residents about the anti-consumer practice of binding mandatory arbitration:
"Comcast’s unilateral action to change the subscriber agreement, with an artificial 30-day deadline, is simply anti-consumer," council member Duchy Trachtenberg (D-At Large), who chairs a management and fiscal policy committee, said in the release.
Jane E. Lawton (D), a state delegate who also serves as county cable administrator, called the policy change "one-sided."
County Executive Isiah Leggett said: "Vendors should not change the terms of service without first receiving the consent of the consumer, and the fact that Comcast has not done this is disturbing."
Comcast isn’t telling where else they are forcing consumers with disputes into binding arbitration without any recourse in the civil justice system. We have heard reports of the notice being found in cable bills in Florida, D.C., Virginia, Delaware, and Massachusetts. However, Comcast operates in 39 states and the District of Columbia, so chances are other states are affected.
What can you do? We have opt-out instructions and other ideas on our former blog post. But you also might contact your county and state representatives and complain loudly about Comcast’s bad business practices.