Comcast is paying one of the biggest fines ever levied on a cable company after regulators said it illegally billed customers for unwanted equipment and services.

In a settlement with the Federal Communications Commission, Comcast is agreeing to pay $2.3 million. It’s also agreeing to give consumers a chance to block the addition of new services and equipment if they don’t want it.

Some subscribers who complained to the FCC said they’d been charged for premium channels, set-top boxes or video recording devices despite telling the company they weren’t looking for upgrades, the agency said Tuesday. Regulators added many didn’t find out about the extra charges until they thought to check their bills or were surprised by emails notifying them of the changes after the fact.

“It is basic that a cable bill should include charges only for services and equipment ordered by the customer – nothing more and nothing less,” said Travis LeBlanc, the FCC’s top enforcement official.

Cable TV and Internet service providers are largely unregulated in Maine. Comcast offers Internet cable service in York, Sagadahoc and some parts of Cumberland counties, according to the Maine Public Advocates Office. With the exception of a provider in Aroostook and Penobscot counties, Comcast charges the highest monthly rate ($39.95) for its cable Internet service in Maine.

In the future, Comcast customers who purchase additional services or equipment will get an order confirmation separate from their monthly bills.

Comcast said the agreement is the result of a two-year investigation by the FCC, during which the company established a handful of customer-service improvements.

“The changes the Bureau asked us to make were in most cases changes we had already committed to make, and many were already well underway or in our work plan to implement in the near future,” the company said in a statement. Out of Comcast’s 27 million customers, “hundreds” were affected by the issue, according to the company.


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