Poor Record Keeping Means Comcast Gets To Charge Customers For Modems They Already Own?

from the something-doesn't-seem-right-here dept

Let’s say you’re a big cable ISP who has just bought another cable ISP. One of the things both you and the other cable ISP offered was an option to buy a modem or lease a modem. However, after taking over the other ISP, you discover that there are no records of which customers bought and which are leasing. What do you do? Well, if you’re Comcast, you apparently just assume everyone is leasing it and start charging them a monthly fee, even if they actually had bought the modem. Even better, it didn’t even bother to notify people of this change, it just added the charge, and didn’t bother to do something as silly as to make it a line item on the online bill that many people check. It was on the printed bill, but for people who get the online version, they’re not going to check the printed bill very often. Simply deciding that because of a lack of records everyone should be charged, even if they owned their own modem, seems quite questionable. But, these days “questionable” activities seem to be the norm at so many broadband providers.

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Companies: adelphia, comcast

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Comments on “Poor Record Keeping Means Comcast Gets To Charge Customers For Modems They Already Own?”

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Joshua says:

Simple fix

To fix this, they should just assume that everyone who they were unsure about had bought the modem, refund all rental charges for the period that they were unsure, and give a month free for each month charged for renting a modem to anyone who can demonstrate that they had bought the modem instead of renting it. Anything less and they need to be charged with theft.

PhoneBoy (profile) says:

How many people can prove they bought their cable

For what it’s worth, Comcast screwed up and charged me a modem rental fee the first month, even though I bought my own modem.

If you ask me to prove if I bought it, it’s not like I kept the receipt or anything. I bought it a couple of years ago.

I find this argument bogus, anyway. The cable company had to have records of who was leasing and who bought their own. It had to be a line-item in their billing system, no? If nothing else, they had to have records of the modems they were leasing, right?

Anonymous Coward says:


What a scam. I seem to remember reading news reports of individuals being arrested for sending bogus invoices to corporations. When the shoe’s on the other foot though the law doesn’t seem to apply. And it’s not just broadband providers, it’s retailers in general it seems.

A friend of mine has his professional practice incorporated. Whenever possible, he buys things through the corporation and then buys it from the corporation for his personal use. He does this because it turns out the laws are much more on the side of a corporation in case of a dispute with an individual. So, if there’s a problem he is on equal legal footing in a business to business dispute instead of a business to consumer dispute where the consumer gets the short end of the legal stick. This has saved him more than once.

Kevin says:

You know...

I know that these huge cable companies are all scum of one sort or another, but it really does seem like Comcast is ALWAYS taking a hit for some stupid thing that they’re doing. It’s not like they’re the biggest, I should think that Time Warner is roughly the same size, but you never hear about TW doing something this stupid, or doing something like denying that they’re using “traffic shaping” to block traffic of the sort that they disapprove of.

What is it with Comcast? Is the management just incompetent?

unknowledgable geek says:

Re: You know...

On of the problems with Comcast is that they don’t own newspaper companies, like TW, thus they get recognized a little more often. There is service is good, the support is good. I have had comcast for 8+ years and had outage for my first 6 months, but since then it has been seamless. And no, I don’t work for comcast, I just enjoy reliable service.

R. H. (profile) says:

Re: Re: You know...

I must unfortunately agree. I hate what Comcast is doing considering their attempts at filtering Bittorrent and such, however, their service has been excellent past the first 6 months or so of their roll-out in my area. The service was spotty at best then but that was back in late 2000. Since then though, we’ve had outages due to wind, rain, and even squirrels (darn rodents chewing through my line >_

EvilNed (user link) says:

Comcast blows

When I moved into the home I own now, I called Comcast and arranged to set up service. (Town I lived in before, all I could get was DSL)

I brought an old laptop in case Comcast insisted I had to install some Comcast garbage on a computer. I didn’t have to, and they put in the modem.

Originally I signed up to rent the modem. I was told it was going to be a brand new modem. When the tech arrived he told me all he had was a used modem and that new ones weren’t availble for a month.

Anyway, everything worked and the tech left. 2 hours later the modem fried and died. hen I called Comcast they said it would be a week before anyone could come out.

A quick trip to Bestbuy and an 20 minutes with Comcast support and I had me new modem up and running.

The next day I took the dead one back to the local comcast office and stood there and confirmed in writing that they had deducted the charge for the monthly rental. I’ve kept an eye on the bill ever since.

Another thing that frost me is that I HAVE to get basic cable. I don’t use it since I have a satellite system that works better.

I’m waiting patiently for FIOS.

Tony says:

Re: Re: Comcast blows

I want to laugh at this so bad, but you know something? He’s right!

And as far as HAVING to have basic cable, that’s not true. I have since moved out of the comcast area and am now using charter, but I used comcast for 4 years. They charge more if you don’t have their cable service, but they don’t require you to have it.

Scrantonian (user link) says:

Re: Comcast blows

I have cable modem service in Scranton, PA. No cable TV service required or desired.

When I canceled the TV service, I was hoping a couple of TV channels would leak through, nonetheless. But, twasn’t the case. Couldn’t hurt to try.

It was better in State College, PA. I canceled cable TV service there, leaving the cable modem service, and continued getting channels 2 through 20, and the top few channels. It all included the local scrolling news, the networks, Sci-Fi, TMC. But that’s all history.

R. H. (profile) says:

Re: Comcast blows

If they actually charge for basic cable for internet subscribers now (they didn’t in my area last time I checked), they’ve finally caught on to the real scam. Since unencrypted video and internet are on the same physical coaxial cable, if you subscribe to only internet service and put a splitter on the line to your cable modem you can send ‘free’ basic cable to a TV. That’s the only reason that they would require a basic cable subscription with cable internet. You’re getting it anyway whether you (or they for that matter) like it or not.

P says:

Re: Re: Comcast blows

First you don’t have to subscribe to basic cable to get internet, they have a special trap that blocks it at the pole if you want internet only. Some may get lucky if the tech forgets to put the trap on. Also people need to save receipts so you have proof of your owned modems. The billing system has 2 differet codes B modems are owned by customer and A modems are leased. YOU should make sure it’s listed corectly on your work order when the tech leaves your home, before you sign it!

v (user link) says:


you may think comcast billing/collections doesn’t care as a former customer service agent, i was trained in billing/collections. well only 2 weeks of training. when you were done then your given a computer have incoming calls. comcast expects you to get the payment in less than 3.5 minutes. thats how long the calls are supposed to last. oh and half the time we were supposed to schedule trucks to come these cutomer’s homes, half the tech never showed up. they are half trained some are subcontracted out.not to mention when comcast goes into a new town takes over the new customers aren’t familiar with how comcast works or it products. let not mention the fact that comcast goes through what called a third party vendor to help its customer’s where we have limited access to comcast tech’s. oh here is the whopper we weren’t allowed to give out comcast corporate office address or we would get fired. how about this our supervisor’s refused to take calls. so most of us on the floor had to calm a customer down. i worked so many extra hour’s just to help my customer’s off the clock got into trouble for that. so you don’t think we didn’t care i did. comcast didn’t care about you nor the third party vendor’s. how would you like to work for a company when people call you all they do is yell all day long at you. it’s not your fault try over 80 to 100 call’s a day. you would quit too, when you got tried of being treated like C????. some people do care.

Alexander Graham Bell says:

Not Incompetent ... just crooks.

All telcos overcharge with “sloppy” billing … it is part of their revenue.

People act as if it is incompetence from Comcast, but look at it closely, it is machiavelian greed rather than competence. What has Comcast lost. Nothing!. They just got more revenue regardless whether justified or not. They just scammed you. Are you going elsewhere … probably not.

Anonymous Coward says:

I must say that from a pure logical argument they made the right decision.
the facts are they dont know who purchased or not
if we assume every one purchased then we losse x dollars per leaser
if we tell every one we lost our records and ask them to help us rebuild them ie tell us if you lease or own we will end up with almost the same as above aside from a few honest people.
if we treat every one as leasing then if you own you will phone in and tell us we then promptly reverse charges on the lease. if you lease you see everything as normal and you dont phone in now we have our records of leasers and owners
but now that you can see the logic the smart thing to do if your a leaser is phone in and complain about the lease charge

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Do I hear “class action lawsuit?”

Actually, extrapolation solves the problem.

Comcast only needs the prior month’s bill to rebuild that database. Just look to the people being billed a leasing fee to see if they own the box on not.

On the customer side – you don’t need the receipt proving you purchased the modem, just a bill that shows you weren’t being charged the lease fee.

dazcon5 says:


Comcast did the same thing to me. Once I got tired of the modem rental fee I bought my own and turned in my rental.
About a year later the rental charge showed up on the bill again, took 3 weeks and a trip to the local office (in line for 52 minutes) to show them the receipt when I turned in the modem. Did the same thing to me when I moved, get a letter 6 months after I terminated service stating I didn’t return my converter boxes. I actually had to get tech support to search the tables to locate my old boxes then send them proof I had actually moved! Comcast as a service was great hardly ever went out but dealing with customer service or billing was always a nightmare.

Fish says:

It is not only Comcast. Regardless of your provider check to ensure you are not being charged for a leased modem. I recently discovered I was being charged the six dollars a month for a leased modem even though I had handed over my leased one and purchased my own. Fortunately I was compensated after a vulgar display of power over the phone. Seems you can’t be nice these days and still get what you want.

Menteth says:

In preparation for Comcast’s arrival I had a brand new modem and router in hand. After some wiring changes the tech said he could not get my new Linksys modem regitered on their system and I would have to take a rental modem and get a another new one. It was Dec. 26th and I wanted to hook up that new Tivo box so I said yes. I bought a Motorola modem identical to theirs and they stalled me around for 4 days and 6 phone calls totalling 4 hours before they would/could get that modem activated. This is some sort of scam that I don’t understand. Perhaps somebody from Camcast will spill the beans. Now I will have to drive to the nearest Comcast office and return their modem. I will, however, frame the recepit and hang it on my wall since it will have cost me as much as any of the art I already have.

stephen says:

comcast hd

how about this: to get the broadcast channels in hd, which are free by law, one has to buy an hd box from comcast for $6/month because those hd signals are deliberately blocked by their digital cable box (it’s easier for them to give you no hd rather than give you the ones you’ve already paid for while they block out the ones you have to subscribe to, such as espn hd).

here’s the work around: when you want to watch broadcast hd, simply take the cable from the box and put it straight into the tv. annoying, but changing the cable is very simple the way my system is set up.

another tip: run the cable to your vcr before the digital box so you can still record channels you aren’t watching. that’s another feature of the digital box. it makes it impossible to tape anything you’re not also watching.

Kaila Colbin (user link) says:

Comcast isn't the only one

Our fabulous telco monopoly here in New Zealand charged my mother-in-law $11 a month for 15 years for one $20 phone.

No, she never turned it in to buy one. Yes, it was her fault for not getting off the lease plan. But that definitely doesn’t justify billing someone thousands of dollars for an obsolete bit of technology!

Larry C says:

they did the same thing to me!

A few years ago, Comcast started billing me for cable modem rental even though I was using a modem I owned. When I called, they said their records (!) showed I was renting and I would have to PROVE I owned the modem by providing a receipt. Since the modem was a couple of years old I didnt have a receipt, but even so, it should have been up to Comcast to PROVE I was renting! Got in a huge fight with them, which I was only able to resolve by bringing the modem into their service center to show it wasn’t one of theirs.

Brian Weinthal says:

Re: they did the same thing to me!

Greetings. My name is Brian Weinthal and I am an attorney with a law firm here in Washington, D.C. I am writing to you because my firm is attempting to determine whether various providers of high-speed cable internet services have engaged in the practice of charging rental fees to consumers who already own their own modems. To that end, we are seeking current and former cable internet subscribers who were improperly charged rental fees in connection with the use of their cable internet modem. If you believe that you have been the victim of this particular billing practice, please contact me at InternetResearch@gilbertrandolph.com.

Joe K says:

Modem & Comcast

Purchased my modem a number of years ago when I moved
the installers from Comcast hooked me up again but took my modem and told me it wouldn’t workand I would need one of theirs. I questioned it and I was being charged for their modem, after numerous phone call and complaining I asked them to return my stolen modem which the installer took and to remove all my modem charges. it was finally settled after several months and I received credit. but dealing with them was no picnicthey replaced my modem with a new one like had before.

MrScott says:

Don't call me a liar!

I know that I’m just another comment on the page, but Comcast did this to me as well. (and I’m still steamin’ mad to this day!)

When I moved from Indianapolis back to my hometown, I had them setup TV and internet at my place, and I already had my own cable modem from when I lived in Indy. I had their service here for about 6 months, then I learned that fiber optic was now available in my neighborhood. Of course I switched because it was a hell of a lot faster internet and more channels on TV than Comcast offered, for less each month.

Well, during the “disconnect phonecall” that I made to Comcast, I was informed that I needed to return my cable modem. Excuse me?? YOUR modem?? Um, lady, there is no “rental fee” each month on my account, RIGHT? Well, no there isn’t, she said. Of course there’s not. I own a Motorola SURFboard 5120. Is that the brand or model number you rent to your customers? “No, it isn’t”, she said. AND, since I saved the work order and had it in my desk drawer, I can prove beyond any doubt that this modem is mine and I wasn’t renting one of yours. The install tech’s name was on it (and I’m sure he can remember me from all the others) and had a BEAR of a time getting the system to recognize it and give me a good download speed. He was here for well over an hour that day getting it to work. I was going to get him involved in case this got out of hand.

After getting nowhere on the phone, I finally drove to the office (thankfully there’s one here in town) with my modem in hand, showed the lady my work order, and how I argued that I have my own modem, over the phone. I was waiting for the classic excuse… “how do we know that this isn’t somebody elses” or some lame excuse. But since I brought it to the office and had her pull up my account showing that there’s no $3.00 rental fee each month, how could I have their equipment? I pointed out to her on the work order that the install tech noted that I have my own modem, and so the “unreturned equipment” fee was dropped.

The moral of MY story is…thank GOD I saved that work order showing my own modem on there, and the local office showed NO rental fee for a modem on my account. It’s better to disconnect in person, than it is on the phone. It took ten minuted to clear my account of an unreturned modem fee compared to countless phonecalls to people that can’t even speak clear English!

GOD, I hate Comcast!

Raptor85 (profile) says:

Time Warner has done similar...

I was an Adelphia Customer as they made the transition over to Time Warner, and had one of Adelphia’s DVR recievers (this was back when I still watched tv). About a month before my service was set to end, I received a green “collections agency” slip in the mail for ~$2000 stating that I had failed to turn in the receiver and modem I was leasing from them. First two problems that popped up in my mind. 1. My service wasn’t set to end for another month and 2. I didn’t have internet service with them, and didn’t have one of their modems, which they claimed to be worth ~$1000 on the collections slip. Luckily I lived at that time only about 2-3 blocks from the local Adelphia/Time Warner building. I showed up, cable box in hand, set it on the desk and handed them the collections slip and my bill, stating that I wasn’t even supposed to turn it in for another month, and that I didn’t have a modem. After finally getting someone there to research my problem a bit for me, it turned out that the DVR box also “counted” as a modem, so they had counted it twice (incorrectly, of course), and that the transition had caused them to lose records when switching to the new systems, so they really had no reliable record of which customers had which receivers.

They finally managed to clear it up for me, but it was pretty disturbing to know a major company like that “lost” all these records.

Brian Weinthal says:

Seeking Aggrieved Consumers

A Washington, D.C. law firm is seeking current and former cable internet subscribers who were improperly charged rental fees in connection with the use of a cable internet modem. The law firm is attempting to determine whether various providers of high-speed cable internet services have engaged in the practice of charging rental fees to consumers who already own their own modems. If you believe that you have been the victim of this particular billing practice, please contact the law firm at . Potentially aggrieved consumers should own their own modems and have proof of the rental fees charged by their cable company. Once again, if you believe that you have been the victim of this particular billing practice, please do not hesitate to relate your experience to .

Brian Weinthal says:

Seeking Aggrieved Consumers

A Washington, D.C. law firm is seeking current and former cable internet subscribers who were improperly charged rental fees in connection with the use of a cable internet modem. The law firm is attempting to determine whether various providers of high-speed cable internet services have engaged in the practice of charging rental fees to consumers who already own their own modems. If you believe that you have been the victim of this particular billing practice, please contact the law firm at InternetResearch@gilbertrandolph.com. Potentially aggrieved consumers should own their own modems and have proof of the rental fees charged by their cable company. Once again, if you believe that you have been the victim of this particular billing practice, please do not hesitate to relate your experience to InternetResearch@gilbertrandolph.com.

Chris says:

Cheat them

For most companies I have delt with I find you have to make it cost them more in time and effort to cheat you than it they can make, then you get good service. I’ve found that if you make a pain of yourself around the time of your first contact renewal then you’re pretty much on the painful customer list for life. They tend to pay a bit more attention to your account then. Then you just have to be careful to pay your bill on time, beacuse they’ll come after you quicker too.

madashell (profile) says:

comcast overcharges

I recently decided to discontinue some of the services I had with Comcast. So last month, I paid off my previous month’s cable, internet and modem bill towards the end of the month as I always do which left a balance of an equal amount for the coming month. Not wanting to keep the cable and modem,I notified them in person and by phone that I would be removing these services from my account. I expected that I would not be charged the whole amount for these services as I discontinued them on the day of the new cycle. I kept my internet. This month I did not receive a bill until the 28th. The bill stated that I owed them not only for the previous month for internet services but for cable and modem also, even though I had returned the modem and cable box on the 24th and 28th of July. They also are billing me for an extra $62.95 for internet services in August…and for September’s internet services.
Though I spoke with several customer service reps this evening and even “chatted” online with a rep…none of them seem to understand that if I paid half of the bill for all three last month,that to expect me to pay for services not used this past month and double internet services to boot…plus next month’s internet is beyond comprehension.
Having read the many horror stories regarding Comcast’s attempts to fleece their customers…especially if one has removed much of their services from their account…I guess I am left with few alternatives.
Unfortunately, in the area where I live, Comcast has a monopoly!
I intend to be on the phone again tomorrow with formal complaints against them with the Better Business Bureau,Consumer Affairs,the Attorney-General’s office and anyone else that may be able to help with this.

Nikki (profile) says:


I have had the worst time with Comcast, they are trying to charge me for a modem and a cable box I never received after my service was canceled, Funny thing is I never had cable through Comcast and we bought our own modem from day one and it states right on the bill CUSTOMER MODEM $.00 and they still continue to submit tickets month after month and refuse to let me speak to a supervisor????? I feel like calling Fox 2 News and well see just how many people come out of the woodwork 🙂 By the way I didn’t yell at the customer service guy and I let him know I was aware that it was not his fault, another funny thing is at the end of the call he said Mam return the modem and this will be taken care of, I felt like freakn out!!! I have proof. Anyways thank you for sharing your experience with everyone. Have a great day. Nikki

winson says:

same problem for the comcast try to charge rental fee for my own modem

I fell very bad about comcast service, online and phone call.
They just said the the MAC ID shows that the modem belong to them, I need to provide the receipt to proof the modem belong
to me.
I asked them to proof the modem belong to comcast, they said
the MAC ID is a proof, I asked them provide the SN number of
the modem, they just said , MAC ID is SN.
What’s wrong with them.

Thanks Fry’s they can reprint my receipt with my Credit card number.
otherwise, I can proof the modem belong to me!
I will never choose comcast when I move a new apartment!

It seems that I am not the only one to fell bad about comcast service!

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