By Bill Hudson

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In what looks to be one of her final acts in office, Attorney General Lori Swanson is suing Comcast.

The state’s lawsuit alleges the cable and internet giant misled customers by quietly hiking up their bills. Swanson said the action comes after a two-year investigation of the company.

The company known as Comcast is now called Xfinity – a change Attorney General Lori Swanson says was done to shed poor customer ratings.

“It’s hard to shop for cable services if the company is playing hide the ball on fees,” Swanson said.

Standing shoulder to shoulder with 15 displeased customers, Swanson alleges the company is violating consumer protection laws by charging cable subscribers more than promised, adding fees for unrequested equipment and service, and not delivering gift cards for renewed contracts.

“It can seem like you are getting the low price by advertising and lowballing the price, but in reality, that price might be 30 percent or more higher because of these add-on fees that are not disclosed,” Swanson said.

Among the angered customers is Jim Federline, who was charged for equipment he didn’t want.

“I knew what they were doing was wrong, and many people do when they see that and they feel powerless,” Federline said.

Swanson says Comcast promises $200-300 Visa gift cards as customer incentives. Many, like Jane Kennedy, say they never got them.

“I’m just saying that something’s promised to me and I don’t get it, I’m going to fight for it,” Kennedy said.

Comcast responded to the suit, saying in part: “We fully disclose all charges, fees and promotional requirements. The facts do not support the Minnesota Attorney General’s allegations.”

Swanson says cord cutting could be prompting Comcast’s tactics, but not at the cost of consumer protection.

Two other states have sued Comcast over similar complaints. Minnesota’s suit demands restitution and more transparent billing practices.

Bill Hudson

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