Surcharges for Customer Service

Comcast customers in many parts of the country may find that the company is charging them for the "privilege" of taking their money. As of July 1, 2007, Comcast began charging a $1.99 fee to customers who come to a Comcast Service/Payment Center and pay their bill in person numerous methods (by mail, drop-boxes at the Payment Center, by phone, and direct debit), many consumers simply prefer direct face-to-face contact. In addition, there are many consumers (particularly low-income ones) who do not have a checking account or a credit card and therefore must pay cash in person (or pay for a money order). It is these consumers that the add-on fees hurt the most. This problem isn't exclusive to cable companies either. Discretionary add-on fees levied by phone companies have been a big complaint of TRAC's for years. According to media reports, the $1.99 "agent-assisted payment fee" (as Comcast calls it) was instituted "because of the time and expense involved in the manual processing of these payment transactions," said Leslie Brogan, a Comcast lobbyist, as quoted by the Lansing, Michigan CityPulse. Comcast consumers should beware that the fee can also be charged to consumers who call Comcast customer service to process their payment over the phone. According to Comcast, this is done "in an effort to keep our agents available to assist customers with service related issues." Funny, it seems that getting a payment processed for cable service qualifies as a "service related issue."