(The Center Square) – Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes announced a $13 million settlement with Cox Communications over “disguising price increases” as fees.
Roughly $10 million of that settlement will be paid to the state government, but $3 million will be doled out to Cox customers who “signed up for television services” from 2017 to March 2021, even if they are still using the company’s services.
“As Attorney General and a former utilities regulator, I have always fought to ensure that consumers are provided clear and accurate information about the services they receive,” Mayes said in a statement on Thursday. “This substantial settlement holds Cox accountable for years of deceptive charges and false promises. We’re sending a clear message that businesses must fairly and honestly disclose all fees and honor the guarantees that they make to Arizonans.”
According to the news release, the lawsuit focused on the fact that Cox would allegedly use deceptive practices to make people think that prices would not go up, but would then tack on fees like a “broadcast surcharge fee” and a “regional sports surcharge,” among others, in order to discreetly raise prices.
“Between 2015 and March 2021, Cox advertised pricing for services in Arizona that regularly excluded the BSF and RSS, and stated that advertised prices excluded “taxes, surcharges, and other fees,” the consent decree states.
However, the lawsuit alleged that these fees could not accurately be explained, especially since they appeared to be with government charges.
Cox’s website explains that current customers will get an “account credit” as their form of refund, but former customers will be receiving instructions by email or letter.
“We’ll begin issuing credits to eligible current Arizona customers, via account credit, as soon as possible,” the Cox website states. “Before offering refunds to eligible former Arizona customers, we’ll attempt to verify contact information. We expect to complete credits and refunds to all eligible customers by September 2024.”
The company also told The Center Square in a statement that they’re glad the situation is “resolved.”
“We are happy to have resolved this issue with the Attorney General, which was largely focused on a pricing model that was updated several years ago. We appreciate the professionalism demonstrated by the Attorney General’s office throughout this process, and remain dedicated to our customers, employees, and communities in Arizona,” the statement reads.