Cable company bills fire victim for damaged equipment

Cable company bills fire victim for damaged equipment

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Limestone, TN (WJHL) - Just weeks after a fire destroyed an area home and just about everything inside of it, the people who lived in that house got quite the surprise. Their cable provider mailed them a $550 bill to cover the cost of the four cable boxes and one modem damaged in the fire.

"I thought, 'What are they trying to do to me?'" Emma Hilton said. "I've done went through a fire. I tried to salvage what I can."

Hilton and her husband say they were getting ready for church on the morning of October 27th when the Snapp Bridge Road home they were renting went up in flames. Firefighters ruled the cause as "possible electric."

Hilton says she and her husband lost everything that day, from their clothes to their cable boxes.

"Including the cable boxes," she said. "(Firefighters) couldn't get the TV's. They were burning."

Whatever remained of the four charred Comcast cable boxes and one modem that were once inside the home are now long gone. The landlord leveled the damaged home not long after the fire. Regardless, Comcast told her she is responsible to cover the cost of that rental equipment.

"I said, "You mean they're actually going to charge me for those cable boxes and after I told you I had a fire?'" Hilton said of one of her phone conversations with the cable provider.

In fairness to Comcast, the Hilton's responsibility to pay for their damaged cable boxes and modem is spelled out in black and white in their subscriber agreement. In that agreement Comcast also encourages customers to make sure the rental equipment is covered by homeowners, renters or other insurance.

The Hiltons say they did not have renter's insurance.

Comcast Cable Communications Vice President of External Affairs Andy Macke says Comcast is sensitive to the Hilton's situation. According to Macke, he will do what he can to see if the company can figure out a solution.

"First and foremost, we are sorry to learn of the personal tragedy Ms. Hilton and her family have experienced with the recent fire at their home," Macke said in a statement. "As part of the local community, we will do what we can to support them during this difficult time. As is the case with most equipment rental arrangements, customers are responsible for any damage to set top boxes or cable modems while they are located in their homes or businesses. We encourage customers to add this equipment to their homeowners, renters or other insurance."

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