In short, Comcast wants you to give up a number of rights you currently have and instead agree to, well, something less.
Specifically, Comcast is changing your terms of service so that you agree to resolve disputes with Comcast through arbitration. In return, you relinquish your "right to pursue any legal remedies against Comcast in court, including claims for negligence, fraud or intentional wrongdoing." Nor can you join in a class-action lawsuit. Plus you accept limits on times in which you may file claims. However, Comcast reserves the right to seek similar remedies in return.
That's fair, right?
Obviously, this is heavily tilted in Comcast's favor. So why would you agree? Because it's in the fine print that no one reads and is structured as an "opt-out" meaning that you agree if you do nothing - which is what most people will do when trying to plow through a stack of bills, each filled with the usual advertising and other extras that are discarded within seconds of slitting open the envelope.
If Comcast really wanted you to know about the change, they would advertise it in the same way that they market all their promotions - using numerous commercials, flyers, and emails.
But their current approach combined with the opt-out technique is unethical. And it appears to violate the franchise agreement as well.
According to the franchise...
Copies of all notices, promotional or special offers sent to Subscribers and any agreements used with Subscribers shall be filed promptly with the County. All forms and notices distributed to customers which describe customer service policies and procedures shall be subject to County approval.
According to the Cable Office, this prior approval was not sought. The county has not stated if it will seek penalties or for Comcast to cancel the change for Montgomery County customers who fail to respond.
I recommend you take no chances and opt-out. To do so online, visit comcast.com/arbitrationoptout and fill out the form. You will need your Comcast account number from your bill. Print a copy of the form before submission and a copy of the acknowledgment after submission.
I'd like to hear if anyone recognized the notification when they were going through their bill. I'm also interested to know if customers on Comcast's automatic bill-pay plan were notified. Anyone? [sound of crickets]