According to a new class action filed in California state court, Cox Communications slips extra charges into its monthly cable TV subscription rate without telling consumers.

Four plaintiffs sued the cable provider asserting that they paid extra fees for their “Advanced TV” package. Cox offers various levels of cable television service, as well as bundled products that also include telephone and Internet services.

In “standardized, uniform marketing materials,” Cox represents to consumers that the advertised price of the Advanced TV package includes the total monthly recurring fees and any applicable discounts (such as a temporary promotional rate), the plaintiffs allege. The only other charges not included are government-required applicable taxes, fees, and surcharges.

“In reality, however, unbeknownst to consumers, and without their authorization or consent, Defendant has charged, and continues to charge, many Advanced TV subscribers separate, additional amounts for Advanced TV,” according to the complaint. Cox does not disclose these fees and instead “deliberately misleads consumers and obfuscates these additional, unauthorized charges, including but not limited to, by misleadingly and confusingly labeling them as fees for ‘Advanced TV,’ the name of the television cable service.”

To the extent any disclosures were provided, they “are and were inadequate in terms of their content, presentation, proximity, prominence or placement such that consumers are unlikely to see or understand such disclosures,” the plaintiffs added.

The four named plaintiffs estimated they paid at least $50 in additional charges, in addition to other losses.

Such false advertising and deceptive conduct violated California’s Consumers Legal Remedies Act, the state’s Business & Professions Code and False Advertising Law, as well as Nevada’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act and Arizona’s Consumer Fraud Act, the plaintiffs claimed.

Seeking certification of three classes of Cox customers based on residency (an Arizona class, a California class, and a Nevada class), the complaint requests preliminary and permanent injunctive relief to halt the current advertising campaign, restitution for all affected customers, actual and punitive damages with interest, and attorneys’ fees and expenses.

To read the complaint in Yousif v. Cox Communications, click here.

Why it matters: The plaintiffs argue that Cox falsely advertised the total price for their subscription packages as inclusive of all applicable fees and charges but then tacked additional charges onto their monthly bills without their knowledge. Advertisers should ensure they disclose all relevant consumer charges and fees to consumers.