If you’ve been dinged with late fees on your Comcast bill, you’re not alone. But you don’t have to pay them.
In mid-March, the company announced it would not impose penalties for late payments, as a response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. So why are the fees showing up on people’s bills?
“Utilities and others are supposed to waive late fees during the pandemic,” a reader wrote to the Inquirer through our Curious Philly portal. “Why is Comcast/Xfinity still charging late fees even though they signed an FCC pledge to waive them?”
How can I get the fee removed from my bill?
You can have the fees waived, a Comcast spokesperson confirmed, but you have to ask.
“Our care teams will be available to offer flexible payment options during this period,” Comcast said in a statement.
Typically, the company’s spokesperson said, late fees are assessed 30 to 45 days past a bill’s invoice date, and amount to about $10. That fee can be waived by contacting a Comcast customer service representative via the company’s website or My Account app, or by phone at 1-800-XFINITY.
“Any late fees assessed during this period will be waived if a customer contacts us,” the spokesperson said. Meaning that if you already have been charged a late fee, you likely can still get the charged removed from your account.
And, the spokesperson added, you don’t have to provide evidence of financial hardship to get the charges removed. The company’s late fee policy, the spokesperson said, applies to all services, not just internet.
What Comcast agreed to
Last month, the company announced that it would temporarily give customers unlimited data, make Xfinity WiFi hot spots free for all, and promised not to disconnect service for nonpayment, among other concessions to help people affected by the coronavirus shutdown. Late fees, Comcast said in a release, would not be imposed if customers “contact us and let us know that they can’t pay their bills.”
Comcast’s announcement last month came after Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai’s launched the “Keep Americans Connected Pledge,” which called on broadband and telephone companies to “promote connectivity for Americans” whose lives have been disrupted because of the coronavirus pandemic . The pledge included agreeing not to cut off customers from services, waiving late fees, and opening WiFi hotspots for two months.
To date, more than 700 companies and associations have signed the pledge, according to the FCC, including Comcast competitors such as Verizon and RCN.
“During this extraordinary time, it is vital that as many Americans as possible stay connected to the internet – for education, work, and personal health reasons,” Dave Watson, CEO OF Comcast’s cable unit, said in a statement.
Many Philadelphians do not have access to the internet. Among the 25 largest cities in the U.S., Philly is the second-lowest for internet access, according to Census data. In 2017, 83.5 percent of households across the country had broadband access. But in Philly, that number is only 71.6 percent.