Have you taken a good look at your cable bill recently?
The Attorney General’s Office has been checking them out for years and taking action against companies allegedly charging hidden fees.
Bothell based Wave Broadband is the latest target of the Attorney General’s investigation. And they’ll have to pay hundreds of thousands back to customers to settle allegations from the AG’s office that the company’s advertising promised one price but charged another, leaving customers to pay the difference.
“What Wave did is what we’ve seen before: they entice you with a good sounding deal then when they get you hooked up and the actual bill arrives, you realize - wait a second, I’m paying extra for this fee and extra for that fee. And you can’t do that,” says Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
Here’s how Ferguson says Wave ran afoul of his office.
First, the company would advertise a monthly price. However, it would not include a local TV stations fee in the advertised price, which would add nearly ten bucks to a customer’s bill.
Then there’s the $1.40 “regulatory recovery fee” found on some bills. But Ferguson says it has nothing to do with the government.
“No,” says Ferguson. “That’s what’s frustrating. They just made it up.”
Ferguson says more than 23,000 customers were impacted by the online sales.
The company will return $900,000 to them in the form of credits to their bills. Wave will pay $300,000 more directly to the Attorney General’s Office.
The credits are automatic - current customers don’t have to do anything to get that money. The AG’s office is creating a claims process for customers who aren’t with Wave anymore, but did subscribe between 2016 and mid-2018. You can contact them here.
The investigation was part of Ferguson’s Honest Fees Initiative. He’s on the lookout for companies who hide fees and surcharges from its customers.
Cable and internet companies have been a favorite target, with Ferguson’s office reporting it’s collected $6.1 million from CenturyLink and $900,000 from Frontier Northwest under the initiative.
“If you see a fee that doesn’t seem quite right to you, ask my office. We want to track those down cause they’re out there and we want to put a stop to them and put money back in your pocket,” says Ferguson.
In court documents, Wave denies any wrongdoing and says it settled the case to avoid costs and further potential litigation.
Still, if you see a bill that doesn’t look right to you, send it to me and Ferguson’s office. You can file your consumer complaint here.