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Dwayne B.
Dwayne B., Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 33759
Experience:  Practicing for over 20 years and handled many cases and trials for consumers.
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I'm certain there must be someone there that has dealt with

Customer Question

Hello. I'm certain there must be someone there that has dealt with this issue. Stories similar to mine are all over the internet. I have a small business in California and have Comcast Business internet service. I recently switched service to Sonic, a fine local company. When I asked Comcast to discontinue my service they informed me about an early termination fee (ETF) of $2375.83 for "service" through June of 2018. They emailed a disconnect form for me to sign but if I sign it, it means I have agreed to pay this ETF. And since I have not signed it they keep adding on monthly service fees for "service" they know I am not using. Some additional background: The digital contract I "signed" on 11/17/15 does not mention an ETF. Rather, there is a tiny sized hyperlink in the Agreement that's easy to miss seeing as a hyperlink as nothing makes it stand out from the rest of the text like a normal hyperlink would. When you click the hyperlink you're brought to another web page that also has no mention of an ETF. You have to click "Purchases on or after 4/1/2013" and then you get to a 21 page legalize document with the surprising ETF statement. On June 15, I received a demand email from Comcast's collections agency demanding payment immediately of $2785.13 in full or they will "take necessary action to protect our client's interests". I believe that Comcast has hidden their ETF under multiple layers of hyperlinks in order to entice customers into their offerings without thought of an ETF. in addition, I cannot get them to stop charging for continued monthly service which I have not used at all for several months. Sure would appreciate any help or insights you can offer.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.

Hello and thank you for contacting us. This is Dwayne B. and I’m an expert here and looking forward to assisting you today. If at any point any of my answers aren’t clear please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. Also, I can only answer the questions you specifically ask and based on the facts that you give so please be sure that you ask the questions you want to ask and provide all necessary facts. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms.

I need you to be more specific in your question(s) if you could. When we answer general ones like "what do I do", "what are my rights", or "what are my options", we have to give general answers and, invariably, the customer responds with "I already knew that". This type of forum works better if you ask specific questions so we know exactly what you are looking for.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hello Dwayne B. Short of paying Comcast $2785.13 for early termination and recent months of "service" I have not used, how do I get their collections agency to cease and desist? Please be sure to thoroughly review my previously stated case.
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.

I read your facts above.

Your first step is to report them to the various agencies. That would include the FTC, the FCC (since they have some control over parts of the internet companies), and your state's attorney general.

However, I've found that these agencies do very little that actually has an effect which means that you are going to have to pursue your legal remedies.

I think it is clear that the "fine print" you have to dig through layers to get to as well as the hyperlinks that are hidden by making them the same color will be found to be not binding on you by a court. However, it isn't going to be an easy case. The concepts are that difficult but there will have to be a lot of legal research done and then a linking together of a variety of cases to achieve the overall "picture" you want to present to the court. Be sure and go in and copy all of the pages they are going to rely on to support their position. You will want to use color copies and get them as clear as you can. Also, magnify your screen and then make copies of them again.

If you have Adobe Acrobat you can use it to make PDF copies of the web pages as well.

You can find a lawyer by going to www.lawyers.com and in the section for Area of Practice enter Civil Litigation or Consumer Law. Either of those will have the skill set you need. In the lawsuit you can sue for damages, a court order allowing you out of the contract, perhaps treble damages due to deceptive trade practices, plus your attorney's fees.

If your question has been answered then I'd offer my best wishes to you and ask that you please not forget to leave a Positive Rating so I receive credit for my work.

Of course, please feel free to ask any follow up questions in this thread. I want to be sure that all of your questions are answered. In addition, once you issue your Positive Rating the question will lock open and no longer time out so you can come back to it anytime in the future if you think of any follow ups.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The digital contract (by Docusign) is cleverly engineered so that you cannot print it or make a PDF of it(!). I have it open on my computer screen. I have tried and I have competent average computer skills.
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.

That's interesting. You may want to go to a local computer shop, not a Best buy, but a one man type shop, and see if they can download it all. The company likely knows it has a problem which is why it makes it difficult to preserve it and why it is important to do so because they will change it.

Best wishes to you and please don't forget to leave a Positive Rating so I receive credit for my work.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I spoke a couple hours later today with Comcast's billing dispute department and told my whole story. The signed contract leaves no room for civil litigation, only arbitration. Odds of my prevailing there are stacked greatly against me, no? It's like facing a decision maker who's retained by Comcast, if I'm correct.
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.

If the Comcast agreement requires arbitration then it depends on the terms. There is "binding arbitration" and "arbitration" or "non-binding arbitration". Generally, binding arbitration means that is your only recourse. None-binding means you go through the arbitration process and then you can file suit.

However, if the arbitration agreement is hidden and you didn't realize you were agreeing to it then the same thing applies. you can't have a contract and not be aware of it.

Arbitration can be very beneficial in that it can save a lot of money and time. Some arbitrators are fair and many are retired judges. You would still want your lawyer and you definitely want them to look over the arbitration agreement to see if it is legit.

If your question has been answered then I'd offer my best wishes to you and ask that you please not forget to leave a Positive Rating so I receive credit for my work.

Of course, please feel free to ask any follow up questions in this thread. I want to be sure that all of your questions are answered. In addition, once you issue your Positive Rating the question will lock open and no longer time out so you can come back to it anytime in the future if you think of any follow ups.