Couple charged for porn after cancelling Comcast service

© Brendan McDermid
A Tampa, Florida family complained that they were being incorrectly charged for pay-per-view adult movies, but cable provider Comcast refused to believe them until the fed-up couple returned their cable equipment – and was still billed for porn.

The Overstreet family had been Comcast cable customers for eight years and rarely ordered any kind of on-demand content. Suddenly, though, charges started appearing that claimed the couple had ordered pay-per-view pornographic films in the middle of the night, according to a report by Tampa’s WFTS-TV.

The first erroneous charge occurred on March 30, and it prompted Alyssa Overstreet to call Comcast claiming that she was charged for a film that she never ordered. Her pleas fell on deaf ears, however, with charges for 20 more films rolling in over the next three weeks, with Comcast insisting that they were legitimate.

“The box that is sending the authorization signal to order on-demand movies is the box that is assigned to the account,” the company said in an email to WFTS.

At their wit’s end, the couple cancelled their Comcast service and sent back their box. Only then did the company start believing them – not because they trusted the clearly annoyed ex- customers, but because the Overstreets were billed for porn three more times after their cable equipment was send back.

When WFTS went back to Comcast for an explanation, the company said that their engineers found an error in the data stream.

“Comcast called the situation unique and apologized for what happened,” reporter Jack Callaway said. By way of apology, the company issued the Overstreets a $240 credit for the movies and paid their final cable bill.

There are many stories of people’s difficulties with Comcast billing or terminating service. In the summer of 2014, several incidents of Comcast users recording futile impossible attempts to cancel their service went viral, including a YouTube video where one customer was put on hold until the call center closed.

In fall of the same year, one customer lost his job as a result of a billing dispute with Comcast. Conal O’Rourke, a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) accountant tried for almost a year to dispute a number of erroneous Comcast fees. He finally contacted Comcast’s accounting controller Lawrence J. Salva, and eventually threatened to involve the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.

O’Rourke was subsequently fired from PwC after Salva contacted the accounting firm and complained, according to ArsTechnica. Salva had previously been a partner at PwC for 12 years, and the company provides consulting services to Comcast for which it earns $30 million annually.

Comcast has had consistently low customer satisfaction ratings, earning some of the lowest ratings of any major cable, internet or phone service provider, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index’s 2015 report.