When I first heard about the case five years ago, I was somewhat annoyed. Over the years, the trifling annoyance has bloomed into a cool white heat of studied anger.
The issue is late fees charged to consumers. The Denver Post did this nice brief story on consumer late fees.
The white-heat case is Martin v. Comcast, an Oregon consumer class action that seeks damages for Comcast’s illegal cable late fee charges in Oregon. Due to the magic of the internet, the reporter writing the story found our Comcast late fee class action and called to talk about the problem.
One of the untold stories with late fees is that they are a revenue source for companies that charge them. When you look at the accounting, you can see that those small paper-cut late fees of a few dollars add up into millions in revenue.
The $6 late fee problem provides the best illustration of the need for consumer class actions. No consumer can fight a $6 charge, and no one in their right mind would. But when the company charging an illegal late fee takes millions per year in illegal revenue, consumer class actions provide the best means of re-balancing the scales.
So Martin v. Comcast continues. We’ve come this far, and of course we’ll be seeing it through to the end. The ink in the Denver Post is nice, of course. But the nicer day will be the day we prevail.