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Woodie Williams, 70, of Pittsburg, Calif. accidentally paid Comcast $6,894 when he made his November 8, 2010 payment online to Comcast instead of the $68.94. The bank paid Comcast the full amount and now he is having trouble getting the cable provider to return his money promptly. Williams holds up a letter Wednesday Nov. 24, 2010 he sent to Comcast, hoping to get a faster return of his money. They're telling Williams it might take weeks to get his money back. (Dan Rosenstrauch/Staff)

PITTSBURG -- Woodie Williams' experience may serve as a cautionary tale for those who have shifted to paying bills online or are thinking about it.

Williams, 79, found that a decimal point means a lot when he apparently left one out when paying his cable TV bill to Comcast on Nov. 8.

Williams, a retired Contra Costa County employee, meant to pay the company $68.94 but actually paid $6,894 when he omitted the decimal point.

"I had enough money in the bank, so the payment cleared," he said.

Williams received a refund check Monday morning for the overpayment, but it took longer than he expected.

He called Bank of America once he learned that the amount had been deducted from his checking account and was told that because the payment had cleared, he would have to ask Comcast for a refund.

Williams said he first contacted Comcast by e-mail and was told that the company would return the money within five to seven days.

When the refund check didn't arrive within a week, he went to the Comcast office in Pittsburg, where he was told it would actually take five to seven weeks to get the money.

At that point, he e-mailed media outlets, including the Times and ABC-7 News' "7 On Your Side," to see whether they could help.

Comcast management first became aware of Williams' problem on Nov. 23 when it heard from "7 On Your Side," according to an e-mail from Andrew Johnson, regional vice president of communications for the company's California division.

Johnson said the company called Williams immediately and promised to get him the refund check by Dec. 6 at the latest.

He said the company planned to work over the Thanksgiving holiday to try to get the refund to Williams sooner.

Comcast can refund less than $5,000 in no more than 48 hours, but refunds of more than that must be processed by check at company headquarters in Philadelphia, Johnson said.

"Our process and timelines for refunds by check are no different than other large companies," he said.

Comcast's official policy, listed on its website, is to refund overpayments within six weeks of being notified.

"It took longer than I had hoped, but it took less time than they told me it would take," Williams said. "They need to change the policy because it just takes too much time."

Contact Rick Radin at 925-779-7166.