April 20, 2024

Bucks: Don’t Forget the Cable Box in a Disaster

Picking through debris after a tornado in Pleasant Grove, Ala.Butch Dill/Associated PressPicking through debris after a tornado in Pleasant Grove, Ala.

Many readers made thoughtful comments in response to my post earlier this week, asking what they would take if they had to leave their home quickly in a disaster. Children, pets and sentimental keepsakes topped their lists, along with wallets and credit cards. No one talked about grabbing the cable television box. But apparently, that may be a good idea.

The Consumerist reported Monday that the cable provider Charter Communications initially played hardball with some victims of the tornadoes that devastated parts of Alabama in April, telling them they would have to return their cable boxes or pay possible late fees or even replacement charges. The company then relented and said it wouldn’t charge customers for lost or destroyed boxes.

A Charter spokeswoman didn’t return Bucks’s call seeking comment, but the company did provide an explanation that The Consumerist posted Wednesday, stating: “Some customers who called into our customer care centers immediately following the storm were unfortunately given direction on our equipment policy that did not fit the magnitude of the storm. Given the catastrophic circumstances throughout the state, we adjusted our policy, waiving fees for equipment that was lost, damaged or destroyed during the tornado. This was the right thing to do for our customers, and no equipment fees were collected from customers who contacted us before the policy was adjusted.”

Another cable company, Bright House Networks, told a Birmingham, Ala. newspaper that it typically expected customers to file an insurance claim on its behalf for equipment that was lost or destroyed. But a Bright House spokeswoman told Bucks that it had modified that policy in Alabama. “Bright House Networks will not charge customers for equipment damaged or lost as a result of the storm,” a spokeswoman, Lorelie Johnson, said in an e-mail. She also said the company had “proactively” credited the accounts of customers who lost service due to the storms, and sent representatives to walk damaged areas to identify destroyed homes so billing could be suspended. She added that many of the company’s own employees had had to “deal with complete devastation to their homes and properties.”

Both companies also noted that they had made donations to local relief efforts.

Have you had to deal with cable or other service providers after a fire or other disaster at your home? What was your experience?

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=1491305a284b988a0e78025f4fb2ac07

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