Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Whee! MoCo sticks it to the man!

Yes, we love living here in Montgomery County MD, where, as The Consumerist reports:
Montgomery County, MD, also known as the county that fined Comcast $12,281.84 for not answering the phone quickly enough, has issued a press release warning consumers to opt-out of Comcast's unfair arbitration clause.

Boy, they are mad! From Montgomery County:

The Comcast Arbitration Notice - which was sent out without County approval - attempts to change the terms of the subscriber agreement and limit subscriber rights. The subscriber's best protection is to "opt out" of the policy within 30 days from the date of receipt of the bill.

"We are concerned about this Arbitration Notice because it uses a negative option technique to deny consumers the opportunity to affirmatively accept the change in their service agreement with Comcast," said County Executive Isiah Leggett. "Vendors should not change the terms of service without first receiving the consent of the consumer, and the fact that Comcast has not done this is disturbing."

"The County Council has always been a strong advocate for consumers and there should be no exceptions with the cable industry. It is important that customers know and exercise their rights," said Marilyn Praisner, President of the Montgomery County Council.

"Comcast's unilateral action to change the subscriber agreement, with an artificial 30-day deadline, is simply anti-consumer," said County Council member Duchy Trachtenberg, Chair of the Management and Fiscal Policy Committee. "The Management and Fiscal Policy Committee continues to scrutinize Comcast's performance, but in this case, we already know what urgent action needs to be taken. To preserve your legal rights, go online to www.comcast.com/arbitrationoptout and opt out now."

Consumerist doesn't like arbitration clauses, because a recent study by the Christian Science Monitor shows that arbitrators rule for the companies that are responsible for their paychecks a disproportionate amount of the time. We think opting out is good advice.

Don't mess with Montgomery County!

Which would be great and all (we got the notice!) if only there was another option. Say, we could get some other company than Comcast at our address. We can't. We hate Comcast. They stink. They charge for all kinds of narishkeit. They made us get a more expensive account because we were downloading -note: within the terms of our contract with them - in the top five percent of downloaders. They told us they would terminate our contract - they didn't even say, "unless you stop downloading so much," it was just - we were downloading more than they liked, even though it was what we were paying for, so we had to get a business account, which we shouldn't have needed. By the terms of the contract we had. It was final, they were terminating our contract with them. Oh, BTW, unless...
SO yeah. Yeah for monopolies.

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