Government

State Investigating Comcast's Overcharges

d22d22417d64124ec6d4_f3e1edac3fa93b28caf2_comcast.jpg
d22d22417d64124ec6d4_f3e1edac3fa93b28caf2_comcast.jpg

TRENTON, NJ – You may be paying more than you should for cable television service.

The state Board of Public Utilities is investigating to what extent Comcast overcharged its New Jersey cable customers for the most basic level of TV service.

Comcast spokesperson Jennifer Bilotta said the company is cooperating with the investigation.

Sign Up for E-News

Comcast’s headaches began last year when it hiked the cost of its “limited basic” television package by 47 percent for some customers. It raised the price by adding a $9.95 “High Definition technology fee” to the price of the $21.10 package, but didn’t file any notice of the price increase with regulators.

Prices posted to the Comcast website didn't reflect the new fee, either.

The price increase came as authorities have been easing cable TV regulation for years. The Federal Communications Commission has not regulated any rates since 1999, according to John Reinert of the state’s Board of Public Utilities, of which the state’s Office of Cable Television is part.

The state continued to regulate the rate of basic service for all municipalities until December, Reinert said, although the rate in some municipalities – such as Raritan Township – continued under regulation until March.

But regulated or not, some customers couldn’t get the $21.10 package listed on the Comcast website. In response to a complaint filed with the BPU, Comcast wrote to a customer in December, “The High Definition Technology fee is a standard fee billed to customers who possess High Definition equipment to enable access to high definition service.”

The company maintained that stance as recently as May 14, when it agreed to waive the fee for one customer as a “service discount” for a limited time. Bilotta said Comcast has since issued a credit for those overcharges.

The company says only a small percentage of customers receive the “limited basic” package and is taking steps to correct the overbilling. That includes improved training for the company’s customer service representatives.

According to Reinert, the company can generally charge whatever it wants for the service, provided it gives 30 days advance notice to the BPU.

Bilotta said that in addition to the BPU investigation, Comcast has launched its own inquiry into the overbilling. She didn’t know how long that process would take, but said any customer who has been overcharged will automatically receive a credit on their bill for the excess. She encouraged customers with questions about their billing to phone the company's toll-free customer service for clarification.

Customers who aren't satisfied with Comcast's responses can file a complaint with the BPU. Complaints can be filed online at the Office of Cable Television website or by calling 800-624-0331.

The “limited basic” package mostly includes only the broadcast channels, listed below. The chart was provided by the BPU.

1

2/802*

WCBS

CBS

 

2

4

WNBC

NBC

 

3

5/805*

WNYW

FOX

 

4

6/808*

QVC

HOME SHOPPING

 

5

7/807*

WABC

ABC

 

6

8

TCN

COMCAST NETWORK

 

7

9/809*

WWOR

UPN

 

8

10/561/795

WXTV

WXTV-41-UNIVISION

 

9

11/811*

WPIX

WB

 

10

12/812*

WHYY (GENERAL) **

PBS

 

11

13/813*

WNET

PBS

 

12

14/798

WNYE

WNYE

 

13

15/799

WPXN ION

ION

 

10

16

WTFX (GENERAL) **

WTFX (GENERAL)

 

14

17

WPSG (HILLSBORO)

WPSG (HILLSBORO)

SHARED CHANNEL

14

17

WLIW (LONG HILL)

WLIW (LONG HILL)

SHARED CHANNEL

15

18/806*

HSN

HOME SHOPPING

 

16

19/804*

WMBC

WMBC - 63

 

17

20/565/796

WNJU

WNJU

 

18

22/129/800*

WFUT

WFUT

 

19

23/129/800*

WNJN

WNJN

 

20

25

WRNN

WRNN

 

21

26/1217

C-SPAN

C-SPAN

 

22

27

ED TV

EDUCATIONAL TV

 

23

28/810*

WLNY

WLNY

 

24

29

ACCESS

LOCAL ACCESSS

 

25

51/291/1318

EWTN

EWTN

 

26

88

HSN 2

HSN 2

 

27

98

SHOP NBC

SHOP NBC

 

28

99

JEWELRY

JEWELRT TV

 

29

199

C-SPAN 2

C-SPAN 2

 

30

251

WASA-LD

WASA-LD

 

31

280

COMCAST COMMUNITY

COMCAST COMMUNITY

 

32

281

ACCESS

LEASED ACCESS

 

33

287

DAYSTAR

DAYSTAR

 

34

294

THE WORD

THE WORD

 

35

295

INSPIRATION

INSPIRATION

 

*HD channels

** shared channels

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Elizabeth

Upcoming Events

Sat, April 21, 6:00 PM

Linden Public Library, Linden

Friends of Linden Library annual book sale

Arts & Entertainment Other

Sat, April 28, 7:00 PM

Hilton Garden Inn, Springfield Township

YP Honors: The Royal Ball 2018

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink Giving Back Other

Sat, May 5, 2:00 PM

Cranford Community Center, Cranford

Theater Project Live Reading

Arts & Entertainment

Lifelong Elizabeth and Elizabeth Police to Hold  “Walking Safety ” Event

April 18, 2018

ELIZABETH, NJ - The Lifelong Elizabeth Program, under Jewish Family Service of Central NJ, will be holding another “Walking Safety Presentation” for Elizabeth residents on Thursday, April 26, from 11 a.m. to Noon, at the Elizabeth Public Library at 11 South Broad Street.

Elizabeth Police Department Sergeant Brian Clancy will provide participants with tips on walking safely and the ...

Countywide Free Scrap Metal Recycling Event to be Held in Rahway and Cranford

UNION COUNTY, NJ - A free Countywide scrap metal recycling event is scheduled to be held on Saturday, April 21 in Rahway and Cranford.  

A wide variety of metal goods, from household appliances to gutters and sheds, are included in the program.

“This countywide program helps to fill a service gap in some Union County municipalities that currently have no pickup for scrap ...

Westfield Firefighters Extinguish Small Blaze at Rock 'n' Joe's

April 15, 2018

WESTFIELD, NJ - A small electrical fire started around noon at Rock 'n' Joe's on Prospect Street on Saturday.

According to Deputy Chief Anthony Tiller, the fire was caused by an electrical shortage in wires in the ceiling, sending smoke into the neighboring businesses on both sides.

“It created a smoke condition," Tiller said. "Once we located the fire, we ...

Nightmare Commute for Raritan Valley Line Commuters Monday

April 17, 2018

UNION COUNTY, NJ -- Raritan Valley Line commuters spent more than three hours trying to make their way home from New York City on Monday following the breakdown of a train near Union Station during rush hour.

At 9:47 p.m., NJT tweeted:

Raritan Valley Line westbound train service is operating on or close to schedule following an earlier disabled NJ Transit train near Union ...

Thank You, St. Joseph's Volunteers

April 16, 2018

Thank You from St. Joseph Social Service Center

In recognition of National Volunteer Week, we would like to express our gratitude to the countless volunteers that serve the poor and homeless at St. Joseph Social Service Center in Elizabeth (http://www.sjeliz.org).  Whether you make a sandwich, collect toiletries, tutor in the job program, make soup, wrap Christmas gifts, donate food, ...

'The Sting' shimmers and shakes at Paper Mill

‘The Sting ‘slithers and shakes at Paper Mill Playhouse

By LIZ KEILL

MILLBURN, NJ – In a premiere production of “The Sting,” Harry Connick Jr. commands the Paper Mill Playhouse stage in Millburn.

Based on the sensational Paul Newman/Robert Redford film in 1973, the 1930s plot centers on a con game and gambling, sometimes on a train between New York and ...

How to Report Potholes in Union County

April 20, 2018

With the winter weather finally winding down, potholes are a frequent issue for drivers. The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders would like you to know there are resources you can use to report them to the proper agency.

"We certainly encourage drivers and commuters to report any pothole they encounter on roads throughout Union County to the responsible authority," said ...