Legal Issues

by Timothy Geigner


Filed Under:
customer service, kia elder, robocalls

Companies:
comcast



Comcast Sued For Robocalling Woman 153 Times Over A Bill She'd Already Paid

from the if-you're-annoyed,-press-1 dept

Techdirt's very own Karl Bode had just written about Time Warner being forced to pay over $200k for robocalling a woman 153 times about an overdue balance that actually was owed by a completely different person. What with all the complaints that ISPs these days aren't forced to actually compete with one another, Comcast, in its infinite wisdom, decided to prove to the public that it will in fact directly compete with Time Warner on the battlefield of robocalling people about stuff when they shouldn't. Comcast's entry into the competition concerns the company robocalling Kia Elder about an overdue balance...that she'd already paid four years ago.

According to the lawsuit, Comcast customer Kia Elder was robocalled repeatedly by Comcast for an overdue balance of $527 she said she paid way back in 2011. Yet Comcast repeatedly called Elder "once or twice a day" between September 2014 and "at least through" June 18, and was incapable of updating its systems to show the bill had been paid despite repeated complaints. Elder and her attorney are now seeking $500 to $1,500 for each alleged Comcast violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. "Defendant acknowledged plaintiff’s instructions to stop calling her phone but did not stop," states the complaint.
Yes, Comcast apparently called Kia regarding a bill that had already been paid more often than a high school kid calls his ex to try to win her back. Kia reportedly complained about the calls, but they still kept coming. She tried to get Comcast to update its records to reflect the paid bill, but the calls kept coming. And now, thanks to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which essentially requires companies not plug up the public's cell phones with robotic corpo-vomit, she's seeking anywhere between $200k and half-a-mil-do as punishment.

Now, I'm not sure why legislation is required to inform companies that calling someone's cell phone twice a day is inappropriate, but it sure seems like Comcast hasn't given up on its dedicated aims to treating the public like shit now that the merger-dream is over.


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  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 17 Jul 2015 @ 11:34am

    So now it's happened twice. There's a saying in computer programming: "two is just a special case of infinity." In other words, now that it's happened more than once, this is likely to become a thing now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Black Bellamy (profile), 17 Jul 2015 @ 11:38am

      Re:

      What has happened twice? There have been thousands of people annoyed by wrongful robocalls and hundreds have sued the various entities responsible.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Jul 2015 @ 12:06pm

        Re: Re:

        Back in college housing Id get them all the time. Dozens of calls at all hours looking for someone who hadn't lived there in at least 3 years, if at all. "I have no idea who this person is. They do not live here. Stop calling" is apparently gibberish

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Mason Wheeler (profile), 17 Jul 2015 @ 12:33pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Ugh, not just college housing. That happened to me at my old apartment. Apparently whoever used to own my phone number owed someone money. If I had a nickel for every time I had to tell someone "no, Carla doesn't own this phone number anymore, I don't know who she is or how to contact her, please update your records..."

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            nasch (profile), 17 Jul 2015 @ 2:14pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            If I had a nickel for every time I had to tell someone "no, Carla doesn't own this phone number anymore, I don't know who she is or how to contact her, please update your records..."

            There ain't no Selma here! The bitch don't live here!

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Xploding_Cobra (profile), 19 Jul 2015 @ 1:46pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Not even just that. I've owned my house outright since the mid 90's and I STILL get calls from some company I never heard of trying to collect some debt from the guy that had this place before me. The fact that I went to grade school with the guy is beside the point - I still have no idea where the hell he might be today.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          David, 17 Jul 2015 @ 1:03pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          A city I lived in had a suburb with its own area code. Somewhat unusual. If you substitute my area code for that of the suburb, you'll reach a drug counseling center.

          If you leave off the suburb area code when calling the counseling center from elsewhere in the city...

          Took me quite some time to figure out how I was getting all those calls.

          Not much the phone company can do about that though.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Jul 2015 @ 1:07pm

        Re: Re:

        ...wrongful robocalls...

        Unlike telemarketing scams and illegal (doesn't abide by Do Not Call) calls both these cases involve a prior business relationship. Such relationship creates exceptions to the various laws, including calling cel phones (which requires prior consent).

        What both companies (or their agents) did falls under the definition of harassment. That has always been illegal, even for collection calls.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Quiet Lurcker, 17 Jul 2015 @ 11:56am

      Re:

      So now it's happened twice....


      Who says the relevant systems weren't designed that way?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    MDT (profile), 17 Jul 2015 @ 11:46am

    RE: Black Bellamy & What Happened Twice

    This is twice that it has made major headlines, and the amounts are large enough that people will spread the tail to their friends, especially if their friends have had this problem.

    "Hey dude! Dude! You're rich!"

    "What the eff you talkin about?"

    "Man, that stupid cable company that keeps callin about your brother's account, they ain't allowed to do that, you done tole them a dozen times you ain't him! You can get like, a million bucks in court for them doin that!"

    "Holy eff, you serious? I gotta find me a lawyer!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    jilocasin (profile), 17 Jul 2015 @ 12:00pm

    "Now, I'm not sure why legislation is required to inform companies that calling someone's cell phone twice a day is inappropriate...


    That's easy, most companies believe it's their god given right to abuse, harass, demean, anyone at anytime if there's the remotest possibility doing so might [and apparently any percentage above zero is good enough] make them the tiniest amount of additional income.

    The only surprising thing is that such a law restricting such behavior exists.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    tqk (profile), 17 Jul 2015 @ 12:36pm

    Pardon?

    Now, I'm not sure why legislation is required to inform companies that calling someone's cell phone twice a day is inappropriate ...

    Er, what? I'm sure you don't mean what that reads like to me. Twice, I can accept. The third time, immediately escalate to their supervisor. Hundreds of times? That's just "Holy !@#$!" Of course this is legislation territory!

    This is like that TV commercial: "Pay me now, or pay me later." You can't be bothered to fix your broken system after being told hundreds of times it's broken? You can't be bothered to test your system before you roll it out to ensure it's working as it should? You can't be bothered to exercise *any* quality control or due diligence or supervise your employees' actions? You owe me your first, second, and third child for twenty years of indentured servitude, and don't blame me if they hunt you down and kill you for that, you bonehead! Oh, and die screaming falling into a volcano!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mason Wheeler (profile), 17 Jul 2015 @ 1:29pm

      Re: Pardon?

      Not "twice"; twice a day. For months. He's right; there's no reason legislation should be needed to explain why that's not acceptable.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 17 Jul 2015 @ 1:57pm

      Re: Pardon?

      The purpose of the legislation isn't to tell them that's not not acceptable, as that's clear from the start. No, the purpose is to set the fine amounts, so that the ones being harassed know about how much they can get if they win, and decide if it's worth it, and the companies can't argue their way into paying a couple of bucks for each call as they 'weren't really that bad'.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jul 2015 @ 1:21am

    How many times?

    Was it really 153 times in both of the cases? That's quite a coincidence...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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