DirecTV gets burned over Colorado fire fees
Amid popular outrage, the satellite TV provider says it was a mistake to demand payment for lost equipment.
Updated at 2 p.m. ET.
As if it's not bad enough to lose all your possessions in a wildfire, imagine the insult when your satellite TV provider demands $400 in payment for lost equipment.
Jeremy Beach of Black Forest, Colo., said that's what happened after his family's house burned to the ground Tuesday, the Colorado Springs Gazette reports. When he started calling providers and utilities to cancel service to the nonexistent home, most were understanding. All except DirecTV (DTV).
The company told him he would owe the company $400 for a satellite dish and two receivers that were lost in the fire.
"I couldn't believe it," he said. "I had lost everything, and they acted like they could (not) care less."
Beach fled the fire with his 5-year-old son and wife, who is pregnant with twins. He said he needs that money "to rebuild my life: cups, plates, shoes, a new bike for my kid. I got so angry I had to hang up."
But DirecTV is now saying that the demand for payment was a mistake. A spokesman told MSN Money that the agent who spoke with Beach was incorrect. "We are contacting the customer to apologize and assure him and his family that we will do everything we can to help them through this difficult time," spokesman Darris Gringeri wrote in an email. He added that the customer service representative didn't follow company policy on the issue.
DirecTV's reputation has already been damaged by the incident, however.
Dozens of people in the Colorado Springs area posted outraged comments on the Gazette's site, and some pledged to switch providers or call with complaints.
"There comes a line where you have to see what a company is made of and if extreme circumstances don't account for a little leniency (then) it is not a company I want to be a part of," one Colorado Springs resident wrote on the Gazette's site.
The wildfire raging near Colorado Springs is the most destructive in the state's history, NBC News reports. So far, two people have died in the 15,700 acre Black Forest fire, and 378 houses have burned. More than 30,000 people have fled their homes.
It's not the first time DirecTV has played hardball with fire victims. In 2012, the company charged Colorado fire victims for equipment, saying most people's insurance would cover the cost, the Gazette notes.
DirecTV charged one Los Angeles County man about $280 in 2009 after his two-bedroom cabin burned to the ground in a wildfire, according to the Los Angeles Times. When the man called to complain, DirecTV told him it was actually doing him a favor, since he could have been billed $400 for the lost equipment. The company's contract spells out that customers are liable for lost equipment.
DirecTV eventually called that case a "regrettable mistake" and refunded the $280.
Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.
As an example, if they had a leased vehicle that was lost to the fire they would be responsible for the value of the vehicle, not the lease company.
People need to take responsibility and insure their obligations in life.
They Ruined my 18yr. -755' credit rating after I called my chase card, about their overcharged ! They refused to refund $72.00 ,but said I now have a credit on my closed account!-My 2yrs contract was up,+ I wanted to be done with them! Then 3 months after I moved to another state, +the movers put 98% of my stuff in a 10'x25' storage unit. DTV. sends me a over due bill for 200.00,+16.00 Tax on a 3 yr. old box, they wanted back. Every contract I ever had w/them since 77' after 2 yrs. you own the outdated box. But now, I do not own it! -I said that I would gladly send it back to them when I find a house to move into,+ movers clean it out, I will send it back to them!- I have no use for it. Never knew that they wanted it back! I said that I am a 100% DAV,+ can not get into the unit, packed to the top ,to find it!- *Those Heartless Bastards just wanted to get even with me! *Will file a FCC complaint about them! Will check with a lawyer about this,and may file suit over this!---*Karma will catch up with you, Direct TV.---*All you care about is money!-- *Even if its not yours!!!
Why is anyone surprised? These guys are at the bottom of everyone's satisfaction list!
This kind of behavior is policy, not an accident!
WENT THOUGH SAME PROBLEM IN 93 IN THE SLUMS OF HURON TN/GET THIS LOCAL GESTBO WAS GOING TO BREAK MY DOOR DOWN/WHEN WIFE GOT OUT OF NUT HOUSE /I KEEP UP RADOI CONTACT IF THEY CAN HAVE ON THERE BELT/I HOPE THE SCUM READ THIS/IF YOU NEED HELP THE LOCAL CHURCHS ARE THE BEST I WISH MY GREAT GANDPARENTS HAD NEVER CAME THIS COUNTRY ALL LAND STOLEN FROM NATIVE AMERICAN WHAT IS ALL THIS PAY BACK TIME/WE CANT EVEN WIN A WAR SINCE 45 I WAS IN KOREA WHAT DID THAT DO TO HELP/ CANT DRIVE WIHOUT ROAD BLOCKS YOU CANT WALK ON COUNTRY ROADS WITHOUT SOME GOON WANTING ID
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