TV company questions contract after tornado wipes out home

Satellite TV company questions contract after tornado wipes out woman's home

Posted:
This is where Frances Mulkey's home stood in Greenback. This is where Frances Mulkey's home stood in Greenback.
"But it's a shame we had to call you out here, Don, to get you involved to do that," Melody Deakin said. "They should have done that at the very beginning." "But it's a shame we had to call you out here, Don, to get you involved to do that," Melody Deakin said. "They should have done that at the very beginning."

By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Reporter

GREENBACK (WATE) - Some Greenback families whose homes were damaged or destroyed by a tornado on March 23 are discovering hidden costs for rented equipment even though it's missing.

Frances Mulkey's family contacted 6 On Your Side after they called their satellite carrier, DIRECTV, and tried to disconnect service. They were surprised by the response.

When you sign up for satellite TV service, you're renting their equipment, for instance the dish, the receiver and the tuner. It's likely your contract is good for several years, too.

Melody Deakin and her nephew, Jerry Sharp, showed us the debris field where Melody's mother, Frances, once had her mobile home.

Frances Mulkey, who's 83, was not in her trailer the night of the tornado and that saved her life.

"Her home was right here where this dirt is leveled off," Melody said. "It's gone. Everything is gone."

The bent and twisted frame of the mobile home landed about 100 feet from where it had been tied down. The debris from the home is widespread.

Frances had satellite service from DIRECTV for about seven years.

Three days after the tornado, Jerry called the company to disconnect service since his grandmother won't be returning to her Greenback neighborhood.

"They were wanting a $120 early termination fee, then $50 a box if we couldn't, if we didn't return the boxes," Jerry said.

"It's ridiculous," Melody said. "It's ridiculous. I understand they have processes, but there needs to be an exception process put in place."

"They did say they were glad she is okay, but a contract is a contract," Jerry said.

6 On Your Side called the company headquarters for DIRECTV in California. The office of the president said the company is waiving all the fees on behalf of the Mulkey family.

"It's great news," Melody said. "We've got a long road to go so this is one burden off of us."

The president's office told 6 On Your Side the customer service representative should have handled the family's situation with more compassion. "I agree. I agree," Melody said.

DIRECTV said since the tornado zone in Greenback and Blount County has not been declared a disaster area, the company was unaware of the widespread damage.

The company also said it was "following procedure" when Jerry called the other day, but "more reasoning was needed to make things right," and they sent their apology to the family.

"But it's a shame we had to call you out here, Don, to get you involved to do that," Melody said. "They should have done that at the very beginning."

When a home or apartment is damaged or destroyed by fire or a natural occurrence, homeowners insurance will sometimes cover the cost of early cancellation fees.

If that's out of the question, pictures of the damaged home can be emailed to the service provider in order to avoid those costly fees and general hassle.

About 50 million people in the U.S. have service with DIRECTV.


If you have a consumer issue call our 6 On Your Side Hotline at 865-633-5974.

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