The request came before the city council at their meeting on Dec. 3.
Emmett Coleman, Comcast vice president for governmental affairs in the Twin Cities, told city officials that the late fees are for recovery costs only.
Comcast's view, Coleman said, is customers who do not pay their bill should be the ones who have to pay the costs of someone having to recover those fees.
Comcast would like to raise the late fee from $8 to $9.50. Coleman said the actual cost to recover fees is around $13, according to a study the company conducted.
City staff and officials received from Comcast a public version, redacted study of Comcast's rate study the day before the city council meeting (see above).*
Mayor Mike Maguire expressed his disapproval of the late submission of the study and hoped that in the future Comcast would provide information with time enough for the council to review it.
Maguire also asked why the city had regulation authority in the raising of the late fee, but not in other cable fees.
The late fee, explained City Cable Franchise Attorney Brian Grogan, falls under the customer service side of the franchise contract, which includes the stipulation that Comcast ask the city for approval to increase late fees. In that sense, he said Comcast sees their request as a contractual obligation.
Grogan did not expect the regulatory powers of the city to increase as the city and Comcast enter into the franchise agreement discussion.
Grogan advised the city to acknowledge Comcast's request and neither reject nor approve the request.
"Simply acknowledge the fact that they [Comcast] want it, allow it to proceed forward and retain our rights in the future to enforce this, should we have such rights," Grogan said.
Council Member Paul Bakken agreed. "What we've received... it's meaningless. There's no meaningful information here for me as a policymaker to objectively evaluate whether the request is a reasonable one."
City council members and the mayor ultimately agreed to acknowledge Comcast's request without taking a position while retaining the city's right to regulate the late fee in the future.
*(This story has been updated to include the public version of Comcast's late fee study.)
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