Comcast, a company so familiar with the public ire at this point that it basically courts it, has reportedly found a new trick to squeeze extra cash out of its customers by charging an installation fee when it is totally unnecessary.
A report from Ars Technica found the cable and internet service provider is more than happy to hit subscribers with an installation fee—charged at $59.99 or $89.99 depending on where you live—even when a home already has been wired for Comcast service in the past and the customer is willing to set it up on their own.
The installation fee is usually charged to customers setting up a new Comcast service. In some cases, customers are offered the ability to select a self-installation kit to set up the service on their own—as well as provide their own router instead of paying Comcast $11 per month to rent one.
However, as Ars points out, customers can only avoid the installation fee in a limited number of instances. Those purchasing bundles that include TV and internet service don’t get hit with the fee, according to the report, but customers who buy the services individually get hit with the charge. Phone only services or phone and broadband combinations also appear subject to the installation charge.
Comcast also hits customers with an installation fee even when their residence is already equipped for the company’s service. This appears to be the case even in instances when the customer purchases the same package as the previous occupant, which wouldn’t require any sort of upgrade or modification to be made by Comcast.
Comcast provided a long statement explaining when it will waive the installation fee:
For internet-only customers, we offer two options that do not require an in-home tech visit. A customer can use an Xfinity self-install kit with a modem leased from Comcast, or purchase his/her own modem. Orders can be completed online, in-person at an Xfinity retail store, or by phone. We’ve worked hard to make the self-install experience simple and easy and it’s a growing and popular way for new customers to connect. When the installation is more complex, we schedule a technician visit. There are reasons that an in-home technician visit may be necessary. For example, if our engineers need to test signal strength and connections in a home that hasn’t been serviced in a number of years, or if the installation is more complicated for products like Gigabit internet or there are multiple services (like home security) being installed. For these situations, we offer competitively-priced options, which vary by market. It’s important to note that we can’t offer self-install kits for residences that we already serve with an existing customer.
Despite the company’s explanation, the Ars report shows customers still getting hit with the installation fee even when they get a self-install kit and purchase their own modem. “We can’t offer self-install kits for residences that we already serve with an existing customer,” a Comcast spokesperson told Ars in an attempt to explain the discrepancy, adding that the company requires professional installations for “complex” cases.
This isn’t the first time Comcast has set out to punish those who purchase a standalone broadband plan rather than bundling it with another service. Earlier this month, it was discovered that Comcast boosted its internet speeds for customers who get both internet and cable from the company while internet-only subscribers were left behind.