Why does Comcast require 4 months to send a $20 refund?

by Robert Nagle on 9/1/2012

in Anti-Consumer Hall of Shame,pet peeve

Everybody has their tales of awful customer service, and I’m going to share mine.

I paid for a family member to have Comcast broadband Internet. The price was about $30 per month for 6 months, then Comcast increased the price to the “normal” monthly price of $46.97. I switched Internet providers, and called to cancel Comcast service.

I called and was put on hold. Then it hung up on. me I called several times again and was mysteriously hung up upon. I spent an hour trying to wait on hold, only to be hung up upon. In desperation, I sent an email to customer service and copied the email to their Vice President of Customer Relations (or something like that). Fairly soon thereafter that office got back with me, leaving a message to call back. I called back and thankfully talked to a human who gave me a number to call in Houston to cancel service.

So I called that number.  The person in Houston billing processed the Cancellation request fairly quickly and said that they could not undo the automatic withdrawal of $46.97 which would happen on May 1, but that a refund for the remaining balance would be sent to me in a few weeks. I think the woman said  3-4 weeks, but I am not sure.

So I waited. And waited. And waited. At the end of July  I thought, “did I ever receive that refund Comcast promised me?” I checked my bank account and was dismayed to discover they hadn’t.  Irate, I called billing and said, “Where is my refund?” The Comcast billing person replied that the refund for $21.92 was still being processed – nothing was wrong – and that in the middle of July, the refund request was close to reaching the final accounting stage of  being processed.

“Do you realize that you’ve been keeping my money for 3 months? MY money?”

“Don’t worry, you will be receiving the check within 2-3 weeks.”

“Why can’t I receive it NOW?”

“That’s not the way it works,” the woman on the telephone replied.

“I can now transfer funds to any person or company in a matter of seconds. Why does a multibillion company like Comcast need so much time to process a $20 refund?”

“Don’t worry, you will receive your refund in 2-3 weeks.”

But more than 4 weeks went by, and still no refund. I called Houston Comcast again and asked when I would receive the refund. The person on the phone confirmed that the $21.92 was due to me, and that it was sent on August 22 (more than a week ago).

“I never received it,” I said. Neither I nor my family member  at the service address had received any check from Comcast. “Can Comcast provide an estimate about when the check should arrive?”

“It should take approximately 2-3 weeks.”

“Yes,” I said mournfully, “that’s what the other woman said 4 weeks ago.”

I have a theory about why Comcast requires so much time to send a refund: Pure unmitigated greed. Comcast already has my money; why on earth should it be in a hurry to give it back to me? Of course, the extra liquidity and interest is always a pleasant bonus. 

My case  is hardly unique. Many Americans have had experienced similar delays from big companies when receiving refunds.   It can take weeks if you’re lucky. Eventually you will get your money, though if you are not paying attention, sometimes you may forget to notice that the big corporation never sent it to you. Besides losing access to that money, Americans waste  a lot of time on angry  telephone calls and emails.

Big companies like Comcast pay no price for these kinds of delays.  They know that the amounts of these refunds are small enough that consumers won’t bother to take legal action about it.  At the same time, all of us know that if customers took 4 months to pay bills, Comcast would have cancelled service immediately (and probably turned the matter to collections). Comcast expects consumers to pay their bills on time; at the same time, they insist upon the right not to abide by that same standard of promptness.

In the meantime, the dollars keep rolling in.

I read online that Comcast CEO Brian Roberts earned $26 million last year. That’s almost a dollar earned for every second of every  day in the year.

Comcast’s revenues for last year was 55.8 billion dollars. That means Comcast as a company has earned $1800 in revenue for every second of every day in the year.

In fact, in the time it  took you to read my complaint (3 minutes), Comcast’s CEO earned $160 and the company itself earned $324,000.

So I feel pretty sure Comcast can afford it.

October 22, 2012 Update. Comcast finally did send the $21 refund 3 weeks after I wrote this message. I wrote this blog post mainly to shame them, but frankly, I don’t think my protestations made a single bit of difference. In the meantime, Comcast took over my apartment complex as the sole broadband provider, so I’m afraid I have to deal with them again.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: