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Comcast can sue you. But you can't sue Comcast.

techs

Lifer
Sep 26, 2000
28,563
3
0
http://www.wtop.com/?sid=1201890&nid=25

Comcast Terms Change: You Lose Right to Sue
July 27, 2007 - 5:45pm

ROCKVILLE, Md. - If you're the type to just write the checks and throw away the paperwork when bills come in, you may want to take another look at your July Comcast bill.
According to Jane Lawton, Montgomery County's cable administrator, Comcast changed the terms of your subscription agreement.

Customers who do not opt out within 30 days of receiving the Comcast Arbitration Notice will relinquish their right to pursue any legal remedies against Comcast in court, including claims for negligence, fraud or intentional wrongdoing. This means you lose the right to sue Comcast, while Comcast retains the right to sue you.

"On the surface, arbitration sounds like a good thing, but Comcast's proposed change is one-sided," Lawton says. "We are concerned that subscribers will unknowingly give up some of their consumer rights by failing to opt out in time."

The notice was sent out without county approval.

"Vendors should not change the terms of service without first receiving the consent of the consumer, and the fact that Comcast has not done this is disturbing," Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett says.

Comcast customers can "opt out" of the Arbitration Notice either online or by mail (include name, address, account number and a statement that you do not wish to resolve disputes with Comcast through arbitration):

Comcast
1500 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
ATTN: Legal Department/Arbitration

Comcast customers outside of Montgomery County are also wondering if they too are affected by the arbitration notification, but it is unclear.

Comcast declined to provide a spokesperson to speak with WTOP, but provided the following statement:

Comcast strives to resolve customer concerns quickly, without the need for arbitration or litigation. That said, arbitration has been a part of Comcast's terms and conditions of service for several years. Comcast recently revised its existing arbitration policy to be worded in a more consumer-friendly fashion, to include a 30-day opt out provision and more clearly specify the choices customers have for resolving disputes with the company.

(Copyright 2007 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

ROCKVILLE, Md. - If you're the type to just write the checks and throw away the paperwork when bills come in, you may want to take another look at your July Comcast bill.
According to Jane Lawton, Montgomery County's cable administrator, Comcast changed the terms of your subscription agreement.

Customers who do not opt out within 30 days of receiving the Comcast Arbitration Notice will relinquish their right to pursue any legal remedies against Comcast in court, including claims for negligence, fraud or intentional wrongdoing. This means you lose the right to sue Comcast, while Comcast retains the right to sue you.

"On the surface, arbitration sounds like a good thing, but Comcast's proposed change is one-sided," Lawton says. "We are concerned that subscribers will unknowingly give up some of their consumer rights by failing to opt out in time."

The notice was sent out without county approval.

"Vendors should not change the terms of service without first receiving the consent of the consumer, and the fact that Comcast has not done this is disturbing," Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett says.

Comcast customers can "opt out" of the Arbitration Notice either online or by mail (include name, address, account number and a statement that you do not wish to resolve disputes with Comcast through arbitration):

Comcast
1500 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
ATTN: Legal Department/Arbitration

Comcast customers outside of Montgomery County are also wondering if they too are affected by the arbitration notification, but it is unclear.

Comcast declined to provide a spokesperson to speak with WTOP, but provided the following statement:

Comcast strives to resolve customer concerns quickly, without the need for arbitration or litigation. That said, arbitration has been a part of Comcast's terms and conditions of service for several years. Comcast recently revised its existing arbitration policy to be worded in a more consumer-friendly fashion, to include a 30-day opt out provision and more clearly specify the choices customers have for resolving disputes with the company



Is there an industry in the U.S. that is worse that treats is customers worse than the cable industry (outside of the admitted champions, the oil companies)?
 

Rainsford

Lifer
Apr 25, 2001
17,515
0
0
I have a better idea than "opting out" of the notice, how about I "opt out" of Comcast? I'm moving in a month to my new condo, and I have the ability to get FIOS there. I was on the fence, but Comcast just lost a customer. Way to go, chuckleheads. You can make a crummy product or treat your customers like crap, but not at the same time.

Of course I fully realize that not everyone has this option, in fact very few have any real competition. So in order to ensure monopoly power isn't abused, I think that monopolies should be strictly regulated by the government, especially if they are "utilities" of some sort. If they have competition, free market all the way.
 

RightIsWrong

Diamond Member
Apr 29, 2005
5,649
0
0
I didn't think that you could be forced to "give up" an essential right....the right to seek legal recourse for wrongdoing.
 

RightIsWrong

Diamond Member
Apr 29, 2005
5,649
0
0
This is the perfect example of the time and place for a boycott. I'm willing to bet anything that if Comcast lost 25% of their customer base within the 30 day opt out period, they would change this rule immediately. I think that this article needs to get pasted on every blog and every message board and even in the local papers and on local tv stations in every Comcast market.
 

blackangst1

Lifer
Feb 23, 2005
20,876
826
126
Originally posted by: RightIsWrong
I didn't think that you could be forced to "give up" an essential right....the right to seek legal recourse for wrongdoing.
Actually you can. If done with consent.

I believe there is an arbitration clause to use for recourse...many service companies are using this now. I remember when Wells Fargo bought First Interstate Bank in 1996, Wells Fargo required an arbitration clause in their loan package.

Not that I think it's right, just pointing out it's nothing new.
 

umbrella39

Lifer
Jun 11, 2004
13,819
1,123
126
It does not surprise me one bit that Comcrap is using "arbitration" to screw people out of their rights. Junk debt collectors/ and their lawyers have been doing this same thing for a few years now to consumers. You get served with papers stating that there will be an arbitration hearing in Minnesota and that you have 30 days to prove you don't owe what they say you owe. 90% of the time they side with the collection agency and no amount of proof from you is going to get them to side with you. They use an organization called the The Nation Arbitration Forum, which is a rubber stamp for the collection agencies and like I said, I am not surprised if Comcast is using the same NAF or something identical to bend its customers over. NAF infomation

I know a lawyer here in Southfield, Michigan whose makes his living suing local collection agencies (like Asset Acceptance, NCO Financial) for forcing people in to an arbitration they will never win on debts that are more often than not, time barred. Sadly, most judges are unwilling to overturn these default judgements handed down by the NAF.
 

BoberFett

Lifer
Oct 9, 1999
37,563
9
81
I think all of their customers should include a notice along with their next bill stating that they have changed the terms of their contracts. Under the new contract, the customer will pay a monthly fee of $0.00 for cable TV. They have five days to respond in person or it will be considered a default agreement to the new contract. Surely drastic changes to existing contracts in fine print work both ways, right?
 

dmcowen674

No Lifer
Oct 13, 1999
54,894
46
91
www.alienbabeltech.com
Originally posted by: RightIsWrong
I didn't think that you could be forced to "give up" an essential right....the right to seek legal recourse for wrongdoing.
The only reason these rights are being lost is because the Corporation owns the Government.

Multi-year contracts that get automatically upped simply by calling cust service etc and this arbitration crap should be illegal.

Hopefully enough people are negatively impacted which in turns impacts Comcrap negatively.
 

bamacre

Lifer
Jul 1, 2004
21,030
1
61
Originally posted by: Rainsford
I think that monopolies should be strictly regulated by the government, especially if they are "utilities" of some sort. If they have competition, free market all the way.
I think all the cable internet providers are locally "overseen" by some department of government or association. I know in Memphis, the Mayor's Office oversees Comcast.

Whenever I have major issues with Comcast, I threaten to go to the Mayor's Office, and every time my problems seem to go away. :D
 

Vic

Elite Member
Jun 12, 2001
48,402
9,245
126
Originally posted by: blackangst1
Originally posted by: RightIsWrong
I didn't think that you could be forced to "give up" an essential right....the right to seek legal recourse for wrongdoing.
Actually you can. If done with consent.

I believe there is an arbitration clause to use for recourse...many service companies are using this now. I remember when Wells Fargo bought First Interstate Bank in 1996, Wells Fargo required an arbitration clause in their loan package.

Not that I think it's right, just pointing out it's nothing new.
No. Just because a contract might contain such a clause doesn't make it legal and enforceable. Even if you sign it. All an arbitration clause does is encourage you to try that route BEFORE suing. That is all.
Access to the courts is an essential legal right. It cannot be denied except by the courts themselves (i.e. frivolous actions).
 

daveymark

Lifer
Sep 15, 2003
10,576
1
0
the same thing happens with scum car dealers. they make you sign an arbitration agreement before they give you the keys.
 

JEDIYoda

Lifer
Jul 13, 2005
33,661
3,138
126
Originally posted by: Vic
Originally posted by: blackangst1
Originally posted by: RightIsWrong
I didn't think that you could be forced to "give up" an essential right....the right to seek legal recourse for wrongdoing.
Actually you can. If done with consent.

I believe there is an arbitration clause to use for recourse...many service companies are using this now. I remember when Wells Fargo bought First Interstate Bank in 1996, Wells Fargo required an arbitration clause in their loan package.

Not that I think it's right, just pointing out it's nothing new.
No. Just because a contract might contain such a clause doesn't make it legal and enforceable. Even if you sign it. All an arbitration clause does is encourage you to try that route BEFORE suing. That is all.
Access to the courts is an essential legal right. It cannot be denied except by the courts themselves (i.e. frivolous actions).
In a perfct world youi are right....
But this is not a perfect world and you can sign that write away or act in a way such as keep paying your bill that indicates you are aware of the changes...

Peace!!
 

WHAMPOM

Diamond Member
Feb 28, 2006
7,628
181
106
Monopolies require regulation for the same reason a train requires an engineer in control of the locomotive.
 

senseamp

Lifer
Feb 5, 2006
34,993
5,039
126
I canceled Comcast, but I still get their signal, kind of, though not 100% clear. But I still watch it sometimes.
What are they gonna do? Take me to arbitration? :D
 

Genx87

Lifer
Apr 8, 2002
41,061
494
126
Originally posted by: JEDIYoda
Originally posted by: Vic
Originally posted by: blackangst1
Originally posted by: RightIsWrong
I didn't think that you could be forced to "give up" an essential right....the right to seek legal recourse for wrongdoing.
Actually you can. If done with consent.

I believe there is an arbitration clause to use for recourse...many service companies are using this now. I remember when Wells Fargo bought First Interstate Bank in 1996, Wells Fargo required an arbitration clause in their loan package.

Not that I think it's right, just pointing out it's nothing new.
No. Just because a contract might contain such a clause doesn't make it legal and enforceable. Even if you sign it. All an arbitration clause does is encourage you to try that route BEFORE suing. That is all.
Access to the courts is an essential legal right. It cannot be denied except by the courts themselves (i.e. frivolous actions).
In a perfct world youi are right....
But this is not a perfect world and you can sign that write away or act in a way such as keep paying your bill that indicates you are aware of the changes...

Peace!!

I think what Vic is saying is, even if it is in the contract, it is not enforceable.
They probably put such clauses into these contracts because they know 98% of the people out there are dumb enough to not fight it.
 

dullard

Elite Member
May 21, 2001
22,855
1,086
126
From what I've read, Vic is correct. You may have agreed to try arbitration, but you haven't given up your right to sue. An improper clause (such as giving up your right to sue) in a contract is not binding, even if you signed it. You can still sue and have that arbitration clause tossed from the contract. But, the vast majority of people will not pursue that route because they are scared away by that improper clause, thus Comcast wins.
 

Vic

Elite Member
Jun 12, 2001
48,402
9,245
126
Originally posted by: WHAMPOM
Monopolies require regulation for the same reason a train requires an engineer in control of the locomotive.
I agree, monopolies do require regulation in order to prevent abuses, but keep in mind that this monopoly wouldn't exist in the first place without the regulation that bars competitors from market entry.


And yes, that is what I'm saying about the arbitration clause. And this isn't even some contract that the consumer signs, but an "Opt Out" notice that Comcast decided to pursue without even regulatory approval. So it's unlikely to hold up at all. And even if it did, this would really only affect class actions for the most part. Beyond small claims, suing in court is prohibitively expensive in and of itself.
 

dmcowen674

No Lifer
Oct 13, 1999
54,894
46
91
www.alienbabeltech.com
Originally posted by: dullard
From what I've read, Vic is correct. You may have agreed to try arbitration, but you haven't given up your right to sue. An improper clause (such as giving up your right to sue) in a contract is not binding, even if you signed it. You can still sue and have that arbitration clause tossed from the contract. But, the vast majority of people will not pursue that route because they are scared away by that improper clause, thus Comcast wins.

Originally posted by: Vic
Originally posted by: WHAMPOM
Monopolies require regulation for the same reason a train requires an engineer in control of the locomotive.
I agree, monopolies do require regulation in order to prevent abuses, but keep in mind that this monopoly wouldn't exist in the first place without the regulation that bars competitors from market entry.


And yes, that is what I'm saying about the arbitration clause. And this isn't even some contract that the consumer signs, but an "Opt Out" notice that Comcast decided to pursue without even regulatory approval. So it's unlikely to hold up at all. And even if it did, this would really only affect class actions for the most part. Beyond small claims, suing in court is prohibitively expensive in and of itself.
So how does these companies get away with the automatic contract renewals without signatures?
 

Vic

Elite Member
Jun 12, 2001
48,402
9,245
126
Originally posted by: dmcowen674
Originally posted by: dullard
From what I've read, Vic is correct. You may have agreed to try arbitration, but you haven't given up your right to sue. An improper clause (such as giving up your right to sue) in a contract is not binding, even if you signed it. You can still sue and have that arbitration clause tossed from the contract. But, the vast majority of people will not pursue that route because they are scared away by that improper clause, thus Comcast wins.

Originally posted by: Vic
Originally posted by: WHAMPOM
Monopolies require regulation for the same reason a train requires an engineer in control of the locomotive.
I agree, monopolies do require regulation in order to prevent abuses, but keep in mind that this monopoly wouldn't exist in the first place without the regulation that bars competitors from market entry.


And yes, that is what I'm saying about the arbitration clause. And this isn't even some contract that the consumer signs, but an "Opt Out" notice that Comcast decided to pursue without even regulatory approval. So it's unlikely to hold up at all. And even if it did, this would really only affect class actions for the most part. Beyond small claims, suing in court is prohibitively expensive in and of itself.
So how does these companies get away with the automatic contract renewals without signatures?
Which companies, Dave? Comcast in my area doesn't do contracts for residential service. I can cancel anytime I want.
 

umbrella39

Lifer
Jun 11, 2004
13,819
1,123
126
Originally posted by: Genx87
Originally posted by: JEDIYoda
Originally posted by: Vic
Originally posted by: blackangst1
Originally posted by: RightIsWrong
I didn't think that you could be forced to "give up" an essential right....the right to seek legal recourse for wrongdoing.
Actually you can. If done with consent.

I believe there is an arbitration clause to use for recourse...many service companies are using this now. I remember when Wells Fargo bought First Interstate Bank in 1996, Wells Fargo required an arbitration clause in their loan package.

Not that I think it's right, just pointing out it's nothing new.
No. Just because a contract might contain such a clause doesn't make it legal and enforceable. Even if you sign it. All an arbitration clause does is encourage you to try that route BEFORE suing. That is all.
Access to the courts is an essential legal right. It cannot be denied except by the courts themselves (i.e. frivolous actions).
In a perfct world youi are right....
But this is not a perfect world and you can sign that write away or act in a way such as keep paying your bill that indicates you are aware of the changes...

Peace!!

I think what Vic is saying is, even if it is in the contract, it is not enforceable.
They probably put such clauses into these contracts because they know 98% of the people out there are dumb enough to not fight it.
Smarts really has nothing to do with it and until I had to experienced "arbitration" first hand, I was like you and was convinced that all I had to do was contest arbitration and it would go away easily. Not so, though it went away, it took a good deal of time filing paper work, going to the post office to do certified mail, getting the credit bureaus to remove the bogus entries so my FICO score would be where it should have been. I was fortunate enough to actually get the notice that there was going to be an arbitration hearing in Minnesota and had 30 days to get an NACA lawyer to take the case for free (and counter-sue the junk debt buying collection agency that had re-aged the debt on my credit report to make it look like it was new and not some old closed account from 1995).

In reading consumer credit message boards after getting "served", I found story upon story where people did not even get a notice that it was going to arbitration and got papers stating they now owed the money. Also in my readings, I found that some judges were unwilling to overturn the judgments because the time for showing evidence and proof even in the form of an original bill of sale went bye bye with the arbitration hearing.(that they were never notified about).

So the best defense for me was to have this lawyer sue the collection agency that re-aged the debt on my CR which I was able to easily prove since I get monthly credit reports and could see exactly when they went in a changed the purchase date on Trans Union. But this was only because I got notice and was able to get them to back off the BS arbitration I never agreed to nor signed. I got lucky. Even though they have been highly scrutinized, they are still in business and still just a rubber stamp.
Text

and:

handed down by the 9th circuit..

D. There Is Virtually No Right To Appeal An Incorrect Arbitrator's Award.

The FAA establishes only very limited bases for appealing an arbitral award in 9 U.S.C. § 10, and for a court to vacate, modify, or correct an award in 9 U.S.C. § 11. An arbitrator's award may only be reversed on a showing that it was obtained by corruption, fraud, or prejudicial misconduct. Combining that standard with the fact that arbitrators generally need not rule according to the law, and need not give reasons for the decision, the effect is that any right to appeal is essentially eliminated, and decisions will not be reversed even if they are wrongly decided.

As this Court has noted, a court will set an arbitrator's decision aside only in very unusual circumstances. First Options, Inc. v. Kaplan, 514 U.S. 938, 942 (1995). In fact, courts virtually never reverse arbitral decisions. Sternlight, Panacea, supra, 18 n.9; Schwartz, Small Print, supra, at 3. This raises serious questions about the fair-ness of arbitration, because parties lose the important ability to remedy mistakes of fact or law, which does not exist when an erroneous trial court decision is appealed. Even in the limited circumstances in which a court can overturn an arbitrator's decision, because arbitrators need not explain the bases for their decisions.
 

OutHouse

Lifer
Jun 5, 2000
36,414
616
126
Originally posted by: daveymark
the same thing happens with scum car dealers. they make you sign an arbitration agreement before they give you the keys.
some? i believe all car dealers do this.
 

RightIsWrong

Diamond Member
Apr 29, 2005
5,649
0
0
Originally posted by: piasabird
How about some free service for a month every time the cable goes out.
Maybe if we wrote that on a contract addendum and sent it in with our payment....

If they accept and cash the check for the payment, aren't they agreeing to the terms of the addendum that you sent in with it just as much as they are saying that you agree to their addendum?

It is a "contract" after all and either side should be able to renegotiate....not just the corporation.
 

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