Comcast Didn't Mean To Sic A Collection Agency On Ike Victims

Comcast’s latest customer-service misstep makes you wonder what

Sam Houston

would think.

The Galveston County Daily News reported that 81 former customers on the island whose homes were seriously damaged by Ike received letters from a collection agency informing them they owe the cable provider money for missing equipment. In some cases, the charges for the converter boxes, remotes and modems –which were presumably lost or destroyed in the storm – totaled more than $600.

One poor guy named Tom Carey told the Daily News he repeatedly tried to call Comcast to inform it that clean-up crews had already removed all of his severely damaged stuff, but operators kept him on hold for extended periods of time until he hung up. (In the company’s defense, we contend this has nothing to do with Carey’s predicament and is actually the lone requisite skill for being a Comcast customer service rep.)

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Since the situation became public, Comcast has asked its debt collection agency to lay off, and the cable company has said it will issue a written apology to the former customers in question as well as instructions on how to deal with the situation. For those whose insurance covers the lost electronics, a reprieve of at least 90 days will be granted to allow time for folks to get checks from their providers. Those without insurance should write a letter to the company to let them know they’re not covered.

Hair Balls contacted Comcast spokesman Michael Bybee to make sure that no money will be asked of those without insurance or those with plans that don’t cover what is essentially rented equipment.

“We’ve been contacting each of the 81 customers through phone calls and letters to inform them this was an error by our credit agency and that their accounts HAVE NOT been turned over for collections," Bybee writes in an e-mail. "The collection letters were sent to 81 customers, a mistake made on behalf of our collection agency. Our Hurricane Ike policy states that anyone who has lost equipment and has no homeowners/ renters insurance to cover it, can simply send us an e-mail or letter explaining what happened to the equipment (flooded etc) and the equipment is taken off of their account. We need this letter for our records.”

So Comcast won’t be asking for any money, but the company certainly caused these people some additional grief they surely didn’t need. On the other hand, what better way to be reminded that life eventually gets back to normal after a natural disaster than to have a shitty experience with Comcast?

Blake Whitaker

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