Philly Comcast Subscriber? You’re (Maybe) About to Get Some Goodies.

Company settles lawsuit alleging it overcharged customers; now they'll get bill credits, Internet upgrades, and free movies.

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Comcast has settled a lawsuit alleging it overcharged Philly-area customers for cable TV subscribers — and that means current and former subscribers are going to be eligible for some goodies … if the settlement is approved by a judge.

Reuters reports:

The preliminary settlement, which requires court approval, calls for Comcast to pay $16.67 million in cash to current and former subscribers in Philadelphia and four nearby counties.

Comcast will also offer current subscribers as much as $33.33 million in services via a $15 bill credit or free Internet upgrades or movies worth up to $43.90.

Ars Technica gives some background:

Filed on December 8, 2003, the suit claimed that large cable companies such as Comcast “divided and allocated markets through a series of agreements ‘swapping’ customers and ‘clustering’ cable systems in geographic areas. Such conduct has allowed a cable company, including Defendant, in a particular ‘cluster’ to acquire or maintain monopoly power, raise prices, engage in anticompetitive conduct, and limit choice for cable consumers to effectively the only game in town—the cable services of the ‘cluster’ monopoly cable company.”

Of course, Comcast probably didn’t need lingering lawsuits alleging monopoly-style behavior while it is trying to get federal approval for its proposed merger with Time Warner Cable.

TechCrunch finds the downside for consumers:

As Ars Technica points out, the original suit sought $875 million. The lawsuit, reduced in scope, managed a minor fraction of that, around 5.7 percent. The settlement still needs court approval to take effect. According to Fox Business, the lawyers involved in the case are seeking up to $15 million in fees. If that sum comes out of the settlement chest, cash relief to the plaintiffs could be all but erased.

More than 800,000 customers were affected by Comcast’s behavior, the lawsuit said. The settlement memorandum is below. Comcast admits no wrongdoing in the settlement.