Updated at 4 p.m. with Comcast comment.
Comcast on Friday lost an initial attempt to dismiss a $100 million lawsuit filed by Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, accusing the company of 1.8 million violations of the Washington Consumer Protection Act.
King County Superior Court Judge Timothy Bradshaw denied the company’s motion to dismiss the case in a one-page ruling on Friday. The company had called the attorney general’s lawsuit a “profound mischaracterization of Comcast’s actual business practices” in its motion to dismiss the case.
Friday’s ruling is another step toward a possible trial in the case, currently scheduled for July 31, 2017.
The suit alleges, in part, that the company charged thousands of customers for service calls related to its own equipment or network problems.
In a statement Friday afternoon, Ferguson said, “The court correctly rejected Comcast’s attempt to evade responsibility for deceiving its customers. Washington consumers deserve their day in court.”
Comcast provided this statement from Beth Hester, vice president of external affairs for the company in the state.
“As we’ve said, this lawsuit fails to demonstrate violations of the Washington Consumer Protection Act. We continue to believe the claims have no basis in either law or fact, and we look forward to proving that as we move forward with this case. With over 99% of all repair calls resolved at no charge to customers, our Service Protection Plan has covered millions of dollars in service call fees that they otherwise would have had to pay – and the Attorney General’s lawsuit acknowledges our customers have saved millions of dollars in avoided service charges.”
The suit involves Comcast’s Customer Guarantee, which applies to all subscribers, and its Service Protection Plan, which is sold for $4.99 per month as an optional method for customers to cover service call charges related to Comcast Xfinity TV, Internet and phone services. From January 2011 to June 2016, more than 500,000 Washington consumers paid more than $73 million in subscription fees for the plan, according to the attorney general’s lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges that Comcast marketed the service plan to customers as a “comprehensive” option that promised to cover service calls without additional fees. But the lawsuit alleges the plan only covered a narrow scope of repairs and many customers ended up paying for repairs and technicians’ visits that they thought would have been covered by the plan.
Comcast argued that, after two years of investigation, the attorney general hasn’t presented a single instance of the company charging for a repair that should have been covered. Instead, Comcast said, the investigation has only pointed to situations where customers could be overcharged by mistake.
GeekWire reporter Nat Levy contributed to this report.