AT&T Asks CA Wildfire Victims If They Remembered To Pick Up Satellite Receiver As They Fled Their Burning House

UPDATE: AT&T Won’t Charge Couple For Leaving Satellite Receiver Behind In Flaming House

When this Azola couple got back from their honeymoon, they had about an hour of matrimonial bliss before being forced to flee as their house was engulfed in flames. So you can understand they had some things on their mind other than the status of their AT&T | Dish receiver as they ran for their lives. When they called to cancel service, the customer service rep asked if they had “remembered to pick up the receiver” as they left the house…

After the couple said no, AT&T told them they would have to pay $300 for the receiver and would not put any forbearance on the bill as the couple tried to get their life back together. Escalating to a supervisor yielded the same result. You would think AT&T would allow for some extenuating circumstances CONSIDERING THE WHOLE PLACE IS ON FIRE OF FEDERAL EMERGENCY PROPORTIONS! Still, AT&T has a right to recoup it’s property… which makes us wonder if the couple’s homeowner’s insurance will cover it, as the receiver isn’t actually theirs. Just an unfortunate situation all around.

In contrast, Washington Mutual is refunding overdrafts and ATM surcharge fees to wildfire victims.

(Thanks to Desiree!)

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  1. Buran says:

    Wow. And I thought they were bad already. Going to the media should shame them into not being so stupid. Hopefully.

    I would have told them to take it up with whatever deities they may or may not believe in and hung up, and I sure wouldn’t be paying them. They can fight with the insurance company.

  2. qwickone says:

    I don’t really think AT&T is wrong here. Those people were renting equipment that was damaged in a fire. Shouldn’t homeowner’s insurance cover that? AT&T is a business after all and I think they’re being reasonable about repayment. They COULD be nice about it, but I don’t think they completely wrong.

  3. tseabrooks says:

    I would agree, AT&T is probably in the right. The Home owner’s insurance should likely cover this.

  4. ThomFabian says:

    So, AT&T should absorb the loss rather than the Home Owner’s insurance company?

  5. Buran says:

    You people seem to not know about “compassion”. AT&T has enough freaking money that they can afford it.

  6. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    This is akin to Starbucks charging firefighters for bottled water as they worked at Ground Zero.

    This couple shouldn’t worry – insurance will take care of it somewhere along the line, whether it’s their own or AT&T’s..

  7. the_oaktree says:

    it’s no different with the cable companies. When I worked in the field we had to retrieve the equipment from people whose house burned down. Otherwise they would be charged for it.

  8. jmuskratt says:

    So what happens when the homeowner’s insurance company denies coverage on the leased equipment? Setting a precedent where you are making people think about their rented TV equipment as they flee a burning house is not what AT&T wants.

    After Katrina, I was shocked by how downright decent Cox was about their HD-DVR. We just had to fill out an affidavit swearing the box got flooded. It’s not like it would do us any good with another carrier anyway…

    The homeowners probably just called too soon, before AT&T had figured out their policy for this unique set of circumstances. I imagine if they try next week they’ll have better luck.

  9. l951b951 says:

    I don’t think anyone thinks AT&T should take the loss for this situation.

    However, the moral outrage is over the timing of the CSR’s responses. The homeowners have just lost a home, telling them they will owe you $300 and will have to pay it out of pocket when the bill arrives is shitty. The CSR should have flagged the account so the homeowners have a month or 2 to let the insurance company get done trying to fleece them.

  10. timmus says:

    This story is Diggworthy. That’s just evil. Though I guess an AT&T serf may not know how to confirm there’s a fire there, much less even know about it in Bangalore.

  11. bvita says:

    While I think AT&T is LEGALLY within their rights here, this is a case where someone with a brain should have stepped in. If AT&T had called and said “we see that you’ve just had a catastrophic loss – we’re going to suspend the account until you’ve had a chance to regain your footing and waive the cost of the box” they would have likely had a customer for life. Instead they have forever burned their bridges and ended up with tons of bad PR.

    On a similar note, a number of credit card companies contacted their affected card holders after Katrina and extended courtesies to them. It builds brand loyalty and scores well in the PR department, not to mention, it makes the sould feel good.

  12. AD8BC says:

    AT&T losing a receiver and absorbing the cost? $300.

    AT&T losing a customer to Comcast *gasp*? $Lots more

    Even if they were polite and nice and offered to split the difference, it would have been better.

  13. foghat81 says:

    Not offering any forbearance is the biggest issue here IMO. At least allow the people to get things sorted out a little first. They want and deserve their equipment or money. But just a small exception would go a VERY long way in this case.

  14. jamar0303 says:

    Well… AT&T’s evil, Comcast’s evil- so who else is left for broadband? If you live in the Bay Area or somewhere else that’s similar you have alternatives, but in smaller cities you don’t have much of a choice. I suppose there’s Verizon.

  15. @jmuskratt: But is it really that unique a situation? Their house burned down. That isn’t exactly rare even if the scale of the wildfire that did it is.

    You are probably right but I am surprised there isn’t an existing policy for how to handle the loss of equipment due to disasters outside of the customer’s control.

  16. Instigator says:

    Isn’t it ironic that when you read the small print upon signing a contract or otherwise entering into a legally binding relationship in which a large institution or entity has the upper hand, it often includes that they are not liable for restoring anything to you “in the event of catastrophe, acts of war or civil insurrection?” If they don’t have to, why should we?

  17. MountainCop says:

    Now you know why I ceased doing business with AT&T, and will never, ever do business with them again.

  18. spinachdip says:

    @Buran: While I agree with your sentiment, I think it has less to do with compassion than just smart business.

    Of course AT&T isn’t technically wrong here, but this isn’t about right and wrong. The wildfires are the biggest story in the country right now, and natural disaster stories generally don’t come with readily available bad guys. It’s easy to be the good guy (which is why politicians love to show up at the site of a tornado or a wildfire), and being a bad guy takes work.

    AT&T did just that by putting themselves in the story. It’s hard to calculate the PR cost of this incident, but it’s probably worth more than $300. It’s irrelevant whether AT&T had the right to recover its equipment or insurance would cover it, when you recognize the effect public perception has on the bottom line.

  19. geekfather says:

    Each receiver probably costs AT&T $50, maybe? They mark it up to $300.

    If they had any sense of EXACTLY how badly they are held in contempt they might just offer these victims an out by offering to only charge them the $50.

    They won’t.

  20. Same shit happened to me in April 2004. Apartment caught on fire. Do you think the Dish Receiver (received through SBC at the time) even crossed my mine? Hell no. SBC didn’t want to hear anything of it though. “We don’t care that your house caught on fire, we want our money” (P.S. a literal quote).

  21. jmuskratt says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: The scale makes it so. While a fire that’s limited to your house is a life-changing event, if it’s just you, the recovery time is only limited by your individual situation. When it’s thousands of homes, getting everything back to “normal” will take years longer. Just try to find a contractor in southern California for the next two years. Try to find an insurance company that doesn’t thoroughly fuck their “client.”

    These people will have a very hard “row to hoe” for much longer than they realize, and a fucking Dish box should be the least of their concerns.

    @BVITA: While those credit card companies “extended courtesies,” they more often than not merely suspended payments, but recapitalized interest at the end of the “grace period.” This was even worse when mortage companies who were “helping out” demanded three – four months of mortgage payments all at once…from people without jobs or homes. The strings-free “help” was far and few between…but Cox was one of those companies…as much as they suck in just about every other facet.

  22. SadSam says:

    I’m surprised by this. When we got hit by 4 hurricanes (So Fla.) in one year, DirecTV came out for free to reposition our dish each time.

    I’m not saying a company should go bankrupt trying to help people out but AT&T would win all kinds of P/R and life long customers if they thought this through and forgave the costs for this equipment.

  23. STrRedWolf says:

    What’s worse, Broadband Reports is saying that Time Warner and DirecTV was forgiving in the replacement. AT&T won’t even wait for the insurance!

    Apparently they don’t get Dish Network in AT&T’s corporate offices.

  24. AT203 says:

    If the couple waits around long enough, they will probably be eligible for about $300 in the class-action lawsuit that is sure to be coming regarding AT&Ts illegal spying on Americans communications.

    No amnesty for telcos!!!

  25. alhypo says:

    This is asinine on the part of AT&T, not because they are being assholes, but because they are setting a dangerous precedent. How long is it before someone burns to death trying to rescue their cable receiver in order to avoid the $300 charge? Next thing you know, AT&T is facing a major lawsuit.

  26. Cowboys_fan says:

    That just looks bad on AT&T. After Katrina, t-mobile gave away cells to anyone in LA who needed one, yet AT&T cannot afford to replace a few hundred (at worst) receivers!? It makes no sense to me, and I don’t care if they are legally right, its certainly not moral.

  27. stevemis says:

    Sorry. AT&T is big enough and has enough customers in the affected parts of California to have a plan in place for this situation. California wildfires are a yearly event, aren’t they?

    If AT&T really wants to bill their customers for DVR’s and equipment, they should at least give them a 90 or 180 day due date. This would allow most homeowners to submit a copy of the bill to their insurance company. It’s not like floating a few thousand dollars worth of equipment is going to hurt the bottom line.

    AT&T and other companies that have customers in contracts should also freeze the contract for a period of time to allow their customers an opportunity to find a place to live and use it.

    Instead, AT&T just decides to be the first in line to fleece their customers out of a few hundred bucks. I bet most of them don’t even have a mailbox to get the bill.

  28. hapless says:

    @Buran:

    You have enough freaking money that I think you should give me some of it. I mean, you don’t need ALL of it do you?

  29. Myron says:

    AT&T has a right to be made whole. And Consumerist has a right to publicly shame AT&T, giving them ten million dollars in bad press.

    Go Consumerist.

  30. davebg5 says:

    To those that think that AT&T is in the right b/c they leased the equip and deserve to be paid on it, I suggest reading an article a few above this one where it talks about how WAMU is going to waive certain fees that they are legally entitled to for the SD fire victims…BECAUSE IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO!

    Yes, a BANK is going to pass on collecting fees that they are fully entitled to collect b/c they realize that these people have had a major traumatic experience in their lives and don’t want to compound that. What does it say about AT&T that they could learn a lesson in compassion and customer service from a BANK!?!

  31. Buran says:

    @hapless: My finances are none of your damn business.

  32. Buran says:

    @spinachdip: I highly doubt AT&T doesn’t have insurance on its assets. It wants to charge these people, then it will turn around and claim the destroyed equipment on its insurance, and profit from the double-dipping. Think about that?

  33. txinfo says:

    I would just tell them that they can come and get it and can shove the charred, burnt receiver up their asses.
    If they want to be jackasses over this type of catastrophe, then to hell with them.

    There are plenty of other companies out there that will gladly give you service.

  34. remusrm says:

    ATT is legally right, but shows how anti consumers and how insensitive it is. Is like fuck you.

  35. DrGirlfriend says:

    It’s inconceivable that AT&T doesn’t already have a policy in place for these kinds of issues. It is indeed conceivable that CSR’s and their supervisors may not know that policy off the top of their heads, but you’d hope they’d hire people with enough brain power to assess the situation and say “let me see what we can do for you”. Recouping lost receiver boxes has to be weighed with the situation at hand. Companies are in business to make money, but alienating customers won’t help them achieve that goal.

    Also, shouldn’t AT&T be insured to cover these kinds of losses, as part of their contingency plan?

  36. laddibugg says:

    So….At & T isn’t responsible when things happen on their end because of “Act of God”, but you are.
    Very bad form….you don’t ask people about saving material things when they are running for their lives.

  37. @jmuskratt: That’s a good point. I just would have thought waiting on the insurance, regardless of the scale of the event, wouldn’t have been a big deal.

    @hapless: Your demand doesn’t inspire a lot of compassion.

  38. Munsoned says:

    How about a policy of cancelling the service when the customer calls, but putting a “temporary hold” on the charge for the unreturned equipment in areas of natural disaster (or even someone that swears by affidavit of a loss due to a home fire, flood, etc.) to give some time for the insurance/details get sorted out? This would be an easy policy to put into place nationwide, and they’d save a lot of grief from press like this without necessarily forever giving up the $300 they’re technically owed. At least it would give AT&T upper management some additional time to figure out how to handle these situations and get a policy in place that’s been at least somewhat more thought-out.

  39. davebg5 says:

    You know, now that I think about it, this woman should have just told AT&T to feel free to send them a bill…to their still smouldering half a chimney!

    Where exactly does AT&T think this bill is going to be delivered to and when? Something tells me the USPS ain’t exactly making their normal rounds in that neighborhood.

    Jackasses.

  40. abigsmurf says:

    I have to wonder the fuss about this. When you borrow or rent something, you’re liable for it. If you’re a victim of a well publicised disaster that shouldn’t mean AT&T should foot the bill. Even though the wild fire isn’t their fault, failure to protect other people’s goods that are in their possession is.

    There’s a reason why people buy home and contents insurance.

    As for the phone call. They phoned up AT&T to cancel and AT&T informed them at the time of cancellation the charges they will be liable for as is probably required by law.

    Goodwill gestures by companies should never be treated as an expected service.

  41. Chaluapman says:

    There is what they are allowed to do, then there is what is the right thing to do.

    ATT failed.

  42. @davebg5: Oh man, I wish I could see the looks on their faces when they realize that they can’t send them the bill.

    If you’re a victim of a well publicised disaster that shouldn’t mean AT&T should foot the bill.

    @abigsmurf: If you were to lose money because AT&T’s services went down in the event of a natural disaster they would not be liable for that loss. The reverse should be the same.

    There’s a reason why people buy home and contents insurance.
    Yes, I’m sure events like this one are why the couple in the video bought insurance. Unfortunately, AT&T won’t wait for the insurance.

    Goodwill gestures by companies should never be treated as an expected service.
    Waiting for the insurance wouldn’t be goodwill it would be good business. It’s not like they are going to get paid immediately anyway. Why insist on the bad PR if it isn’t even going to get you paid sooner?

  43. Sudonum says:

    @davebg5:
    I had Verizon wireless pre-Katrina. Canceled the phone service about 2 weeks prior to the storm. Was told over the phone that I had a zero balance. Katrina hits, no mail delivery. Temporarily forward mail to a PO Box, and then back to the house when service resumes. Loose lots of mail in the process. Jan of ’06 I pull a copy of my credit report and find a charge-off from Verizon for something like $70. Call Verizon and was told that I never paid my final bill. I told them that I never got my final bill, was told that I had no balance, and why didn’t they try calling me to tell me I owed them money (I had ported my number)? Not their policy, blah, blah, blah. I was livid. Talked to a very rude person in their collections department in Dallas. She told me that she would “allow” me to pay the bill since I was a “Katrina Victim” and that they would remove the charge-off. I did, and they did.

    As someone with a billing address in the affected areas, Nextel gave me 2 free months. Verizon screwed up my credit

  44. Little Miss Moneybags says:

    @Instigator: Excellent point.

  45. abigsmurf says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: That’s because telephone would lose millions every time there was a storm anywhere until they eventually went bankrupt and no one would have any service if they were liable for losses due to interruption of service. Also a bad example because if their equipment was damaged during a storm they would have to pay to get it repaired ASAP or be in breach of contract.

    AT&T have no way of knowing if a customer is insured (unless they sold the insurance themselves). Any business that trusts people they don’t know whenever they say “the cheques in the mail” tend not to stay in business long.

  46. doireallyneedausername says:

    Can we bring in Grandma “Hammer” to visit an AT&T office? Let’s smash some common sense into this lame telco. Hammertime!

  47. ShadowFalls says:

    Everyone who mentions, what is the fuss about? AT&T is in the right.

    Sometimes it is not a matter of being right or wrong. AT&T could have given them time to get situated and get their insurance taken care of. Instead they went and alienated their customer who now won’t be coming back to them at all, meanwhile getting bad publicity in the process.

    Doing the good and noble thing would have cost them less. They were still going to get their money, though over-inflated as it was. They could have earned some good publicity in the process, like WAMU, and perhaps get a customer for life. Why does it seem like idiots are the only ones that run companies?

    Try explaining these things to your stock holders when profits go down…

  48. fashionista says:

    @alhypo: I agree. Personally, though, I wouldn’t stop to save an $850 pair of Jimmy Choo’s if my durned house is on fire. But, as you said, some unlucky person is going to fear AT&T more than the impending fire and lose their life trying to unplug a stupid receiver. The “powers that be” at AT&T really aren’t thinking this through.

  49. fashionista says:

    @davebg5: The problem is, these people’s credit may get ruined for a $300 receiver which is beyond ridiculous. AT&T is not going to lose in this situation no matter what. It’s too bad they can’t mail them some ashes along with a letter that says “Here’s your receiver. Enjoy!”.

  50. jaffer says:

    I think a little compassion is in order personally but I see both sides. As for the person who said “This is akin to Starbucks charging firefighters for bottled water as they worked at Ground Zero” There is no comparison as this was a rumor and never happened. Check the facts (snopes)

  51. The rep said “you have to pay the bill as soon as you receive the bill”.

    There is no mail being delivered to that billing address for a while, me thinks. If I was them, I’d just wait a few months until the bill “gets delivered”.

  52. Voyou_Charmant says:

    @qwickone:

    I’m sure this was already addressed, but the issue here is that it must be paid on time like any other bill and not when the insurance settles after X number of months.

  53. IrisMR says:

    I’m sorta at a loss of words here. I mean, this is beyond thoughtless. Awful, AT&T. Just awful.

  54. Pec says:

    You people shall all understand that the AT&T employees this couple spoke to have no control over their policies.
    In the immediate situation (customer still on hold) all they can do is continuely escalate the case to their immediate superior, until they reach the point in the chain that the customer will have to be called back.
    Somehow I think if this couple would have waited for a return call from AT&T corperate, intead of giving up at the call center, AT&T would have delayed the fee until the insurance company had been contacted directly by AT&T.

  55. CurbRunner says:

    AT&T is nothing more than a pathetic fungus growing on the telecom system in America.

  56. JeremyJX says:

    I agree with PEC. These are probably people that work in a call center hundreds of miles away, get crap pay, and work off a script. When you cancel service, the computer probably prompts them to ask to return the box. Given the degree to which these fires are recent, it will probably take time to make changes in the policy to account for stuff like this. It is insensitive of AT&T to assume they were going to take the dish with them, but it is rightfully theirs, and I don’t think they’re all that wrong for asking for it back. Also, to file a homeowner’s claim you are going to need to prove to the insurance company that you had the dish, which a bill from AT&T would do.

  57. CurbRunner says:

    @Pec: said: “You people shall all understand that the AT&T employees this couple spoke to have no control over their policies.”

    Because California is an “At Will” labor state, these employees are free to leave their job at any time.

    The employees that you refer too need to do a morality check on how they enable AT&T’s sick response to people in need by remaining on the job to work for a such a pathetic company.

  58. magus_melchior says:

    @ShadowFalls: Sometimes, doing the right thing for your shareholders is far from doing the right thing for everyone else.

  59. magus_melchior says:

    @CurbRunner: Mm, but the call center may not have been in CA.

  60. CurbRunner says:

    @JeremyJX: Said: “it will probably take time to make changes in the policy to account for stuff like this.”

    If Washington Mutual was able to give their customers a break in an expidited manner why couldn’t AT&T?
    I suspect it’s because they don’t really give a shit about people in need as they have the same capabilities as Washington Mutual to make humanitarian decisions in real time.

  61. HeHateMe says:

    A co-worker who worked in the insurance field for a while told me this:

    FYI, based on my State Farm knowledge, their homeowners insurance will not cover it, it did not belong to the couple. However, most home owners policies cover contents at 80% of the dwelling amount. I am sure they will have enough money to pay for the dish. If you think about it, my home is insured for $190,000 (not including the land of course) which means the contents coverage is $152,000. I doubt I have the much in contents.

  62. CurbRunner says:

    @magus_melchior: Said: “Mm, but the call center may not have been in CA.”

    How could it matter where the call center is?
    These call center employees are still aware of what the company they work for is immorally asking of people in need.

  63. davebg5 says:

    @Pec: Let me share w/you a customer service story. Last week I ordered a laptop from Dell. When I got the email confirmation it was littered w/”A” and other special characters…including in the Shipping Address section. So, I called Dell CS to confirm that they had the correct shipping info. The CS rep, who was probably working from a script herself and who was likely based in another country (I make this assumption off of her accent) not only confirmed that they had the correct info, but proceeded to give me a free upgrade to next day shipping.

    I didn’t even ask for anything. Heck, I wasn’t even complaining about anything. I was just confirming some info. Then, this week, the CS rep called me to confirm that it had been shipped next day and that I had received the laptop.

    I don’t know if she went above and beyond on her own or if Dell CS just has better scripts for their reps to read off of, but just as Dell gets kudos for a good job, AT&T deserves a lick off of a sweaty ball sack for their behavior in this case.

  64. CurbRunner says:

    It’s going to be interesting to see how AT&T is going to send bills to thousands of homes that no longer have a mail box or a visible address.

  65. LAGirl says:

    the LAST f*cking thing i would think about taking with me if my house was about to catch on fire? the mother f*cking DISH receiver!! i don’t care if AT&T has a legal right to charge them. that is just all kinds of wrong!

  66. darkclawsofchaos says:

    maybe they can package some ash or if they are really lucky, the charred remains and send it AT&t and said it was damaged and it was not their fault but it was AT&T for not making it fireproof, and even then, sometimes you don’t need an excuse, you just return it regardless of damage

  67. MYarms says:

    Considering AT&T is a giant monopoly you would think that they could afford to lose some of their receivers. Remember: they don’t care about you, only what’s in your wallet.

  68. BugMeNot2 says:

    Let’s go BURN ATT’s headquarters now with the CEO included

  69. Nately says:

    @pinkbunnyslippers: Actually, it’s not like that at all.

  70. @Nately: I just paid attention to your icon and was all, “Oh, NATELY!”

  71. CurbRunner says:

    Just remember, any of you folks who are AT&T internet customers, unless you are discussing public policy matters, political issues or political campaigns, can have your service terminated by AT&T, for posting what they deem to be negative comments about them on this site and other blogs.

    They will find you in this new AMERIKA.

    This is all for the good of their shareholders, of course:

    5.1 Suspension/Termination. AT&T respects freedom of expression and believes it is a foundation of our free society to express differing points of view. AT&T will not terminate, disconnect or suspend service because of the views you or we express on public policy matters, political issues or political campaigns. However, AT&T may immediately terminate or suspend all or a portion of your Service, any Member ID, electronic mail address, IP address, Universal Resource Locator or domain name used by you, without notice, for conduct that AT&T believes (a) violates the Acceptable Use Policy; or (b) constitutes a violation of any law, regulation or tariff (including, without limitation, copyright and intellectual property laws) or a violation of these TOS, or any applicable policies or guidelines. Your Service may be suspended or terminated if your payment is past due and such condition continues un-remedied for thirty (30) days. Termination or suspension by AT&T of Service also constitutes termination or suspension (as applicable) of your license to use any Software. AT&T may also terminate or suspend your Service if you provide false or inaccurate information that is required for the provision of Service or is necessary to allow AT&T to bill you for Service.

  72. SammyDKat says:

    It doesn’t matter whether AT&T is in the right. This is bad PR for them & shows how poor their customer service training is. AT&T should have planned to absorb the cost of lost equipment as a good will gesture & gone over the policy w/ phone reps. They would have earned many more customers in the long run. Instead, they made themselves look worse than cable companies & that’s a hard thing to accomplish.

  73. DanGarion says:

    I work for Time Warner Cable in Southern California and we actually received an email from our Executive VP that we are proactively stopping the billing for those of our customers that are in areas that houses have burned down, and putting accounts in a status that will not allow them to go to collections.

    On top of that I’ve heard that we are identifying the damaged homes that cannot be occupied and pausing their service until residents can return.

    I was glad to hear that we are doing what we can to assist those that have been affected.

    I’m sure someone will chime in with some comments towards me and Time Warner Cable, but I’m proud to work at a company that does try to help when they can.

  74. Buran says:

    @Buran: After update: … yup, good ol’ media shaming works again.

  75. Topcat says:

    Completely non-compassionate comment to follow:

    You build/buy your house in a bone-dry region with artificially introduced trees and water, subject to hot, dry wind from the desert, and expect handouts when it gets crisped in the inevitable wildfires? I’d say having to cover a few expensive items lost out of your own pocket should be the price you pay for such a stupid error.

  76. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    @Nately: Well it all got figured out and settled, and they needn’t have worried. So what’s the typical protocol for this type of situation? It’s good to know for future reference…I’d assume I as the consumer is liable, as I entered into an agreement to rent this equipment, but I’m not sure…

  77. calvinneal says:

    Customer service representatives are frequently wrong. Their supervisors are frequently wrong. Some of these companies such as ATT are so large, unless a directive comes down from an area manager or higher, the employee must recite what is scripted. Its ridiculous and makes no logical sense, but this is the world of corporate America. Otherwise the employee is violating the ATT code of business conduct as is terminated for making agreements without corporate approval.. Employees and their first level managers at most companies have little or no discretion. ATT is giving money and volunteer time to the victims of this fire. Lay off already. Sometimes it takes a while for the corporate ship to be turned around. ATT has over three hundred thousand employees, not all of them are evil.

  78. HeroicLife says:

    So if you were to buy a car, and your house burned down with the car inside, you don’t owe the dealership anything?

    Does the fact that its not your fault, or that the fire was caused by a natural disaster magically pay for your car?

  79. blazesboy says:

    We consumers will be treated like shit until we stop making excuses for these corporations – like many of the commenters on this thread. What gives, people? Maybe it doesn’t make sense to call AT&T (or its employees) evil – on the other hand this is the same company that helped the National Security Agency spy on American citizens. Is that, ya know, good? Corporations do not have to be “good citizens,” because they are filthy, filthy, filthy rich. Is that the world we want to live in, where our lives are ruled by these ginormous entities that operate outside of the law and must answer to no one? If we would not accept treatment like this from an individual then we should not accept treatment like this from a corporation, no matter how “difficult” it might be for them to “turn the ship around.” Fuck them.

  80. blazesboy says:

    Hey, Heroiclife – this is obviously not about paying for the satellite dish. It’s about AT&T not billing them until their fire insurance pays out. If it was a car, or a stack of fucking gold bricks or whatever, it’s the SAME. You think that no matter what happens to someone they should potentially go bankrupt over it (which might be the case with a more expensive item – like, a car) just because some asshole corporation wants to be an asshole?

  81. CurbRunner says:

    @DanGarion:
    Sounds like Time Warner Cable took the sensible and moral approach.
    Too bad AT&T doesn’t have the collective corporate consciousness to figure out how to do it right. They never seem capable of getting ahead of the curve in customer service because their always to busy doing damage control after the fact.

  82. Charles Duffy says:

    @HeroicLife: The problem isn’t that they were forced to pay. The problem is that they weren’t given some extra time for insurance to come through. And yes, your hypothetical car dealership should have that compassion (and business sense) as well.

  83. BugMeNot2 says:

    Hey, hey, hey! No need to get all upset over this? Really! AT&T just wants their receiver back?

    Just dig through the ashes, pick up what’s left of the device and turn it in! There you go, your device, just as you asked.

    Funny how your contract doesn’t say ANYTHING about it being in working order, just that it has to be returned…

  84. Userable says:

    AT&T whether they deserve their $300 x whatever have just lost yet another customer. They could write off the loss – not torture fire victims further for money.

    I expect a lot of current customers will cancel any relationship with AT&T permanently.

  85. Userable says:

    @BugMeNot2: LOL, That’s the best I’ve heard yet!

  86. Nately says:

    @pinkbunnyslippers: I was talking about the Ground Zero reference, which was not at all relevant to this situation.

  87. trend53 says:

    Customer service has declined tremendously since AT&T took over SBC/Cingular. I’m curious to know how many people have switched to other forms of communications and entertainment.

    Yes they deserve thier monies but show some compassion. A little customer service goes a long way.

  88. amandabee says:

    The real problem is that all Customer Service is now farmed out to robots. Or to call centers (oversees or not) where the person you are talking to is not a whole lot better than a robot in terms of their power to do anything useful for you or to think for themselves.

    They can’t say “hmm, massive fire isn’t in my script, but I’ll find out how we handle this.” They have to stick to their script. Or maybe they’re just half wits.