Comcast Offers You A $500 Credit After Digging Up Your Lawn

Reader Kyle says that his dispute with Comcast has resulting in something of a happy ending, though they’re still working out that pesky easement issue. Comcast is under the impression that it has an easement on Kyle’s property, while Kyle’s records show that they do not. According to Kyle, Comcast has agreed to mail him some paperwork about the easement and has offered him a credit of $500.

Kyle says:

I wanted to send an update to the story regarding Comcast digging in my yard and their CSR subsequently hanging up on me when I called to get more details.

Mr. Comcast (Frank) called me the same day that this story was posted, took some details about the story and put me in touch with Kelly Hill, a very pleasant woman and the regional VP for my area. My conversation with Ms. Hill was very productive and she referred me to a member of her team who has been equally nice, John Braisher (sp?), with whom I’ve played phone tag for the past few days.

Today, John and I were able to have a conversation regarding the digging and the rude CSR. According to John, Comcast does in fact have an easement on my property, one that extends 15 feet from the curb. However, according to my records (the same that are on file with my local government), there is no easement on my property. I asked for proof of this easement and their rightful ability to access it, and John will be mailing it to me.

Regarding the CSR who hung up on me, the good news is that John apprised me that there will be a $500 credit made to my account (he initially tried to buy me off at $250). The bad news is that he says that I am currently under a promotional rate with Comcast, one that provides me with a $14 monthly credit. I say that this is bad news because when I signed up for Comcast services, I specifically asked if this was a promo rate and was told that it was not. John has promised to look into extending my promo rate, and to call me back within an hour regarding the new rate at the end of my current one, and its duration. Of course, I asked that all of this information be sent to me, in writing, should any discrepancies develop in the future.

I am admittedly skeptical the evidence they intend to show me regarding the easement on my property and their right of way to it, especially since the copies of my plat obtained from my local government show nothing regarding an easement. I understand that if there is in fact an easement and that they have rightful access to it, there is nothing I can do about the digging. However, if their proof is not satisfactory, John knows that I will be back in touch to revisit this issue once more.

In my conversation with John, I told him that I would be writing to the Consumerist with updates regarding my situation, both good and bad. Comcast gets a lot of negative press (deservedly so), but in this particular instance, it appears that they are taking the steps to make this right.

Many thanks,

Kyle

Thanks, Kyle. We’re very happy to know that this situation is getting sorted out amicably.
(Photo: cmorran123 )

Comments

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  1. Shark1998 says:

    Good news….but pay attention with anything they want you to sign. Read it through very carefully.

  2. Suttin says:

    I have a question.

    What happens if Comcast does this to someone who doesn’t have Comcast. Sure $500 in credit is nice, but its useless for someone who doesn’t have Comcast

  3. kable2 says:

    If they dont have an easement, tell them free services. Nothing less then free services for life of take them to court.

  4. IphtashuFitz says:

    @Suttin: If you can show that they don’t have an easement then threaten to take them to court for the damages they caused in digging up your property. If they don’t change their tune and give you what you want (within reason) then follow through with that threat and sue them. The $30 or so it takes to file a small claims suit will likely convince them to cough up the $500 in cash, and if they don’t then in the end you’ll have a judge deciding whether their easement is valid or not.

  5. Average_Joe says:

    @kable2: They will just move the line. Although I’d imagine you can still recoup damages for the time wasted. Sadly even with the proof of trespassing and vandalism(cable in the ground) it may be hard to file criminal charges.

  6. ScubaSteveKzoo says:

    $500 credit is not the same as $500 cash.

  7. Murph1908 says:

    Wow. I sense a CYA moment.

    When have any of us seen Comcast come forward with a even $250 credit offer, and then the DOUBLE IT when it is denied? I think someone there is trying to buy you off cheap. Don’t let them.

    If you are certain they don’t have easement, hold out for more. Since they already have the cable buried, I would seriously request free cable for your house so long as they are using your land to run their cable. Get it in writing.

  8. CubFx says:

    Steps required for Comcast to have “good” publicity:
    1. Comcast screws someone
    2. Someone calls comcast to resolve problem
    3. Someone is lied to, misled, or just hung-up on
    4. Someone calls back
    5. Repeat steps 3 & 4 an indeterminate number of times
    6. Someone posts entire story on major consumer advocacy site
    7. Then, and ONLY THEN will comcast actually put one of their FEW people who can resolve problems on the issue
    8. Issue (probably) resolved, and credits are issued.

    I have a serious problem with step #6 being required to get resolution from a company. It makes me quite comspastic.

  9. Murph1908 says:

    Oh, and get the $250 back as Pay Per View credits. =)

  10. nursetim says:

    @kable2:
    Plus, I would get in contact with the the local government and try to straighten out what exactly is Comcast’s easement. You could end up with the town having a little chat with Comcast too.

  11. stacye says:

    $500 seems quite high as a reimbursement for a rude CSR. If by accepting this money, can Comcast later come back and say “We gave him $500 to cover the ‘Whoops, we didn’t mean to dig up your property,’” and does he lose his right to sue them?

  12. ShortBus says:

    I assume the OP has title insurance, right? He should give the title agency a jingle and let the underwriter’s lawyers fight out the easement issue. I mean, that’s the whole point of title insurance.

  13. JohnMc says:

    Not knowing the exact situation I could be wrong. But here in Texas the Plat Book is not the end all be all of easement rules on a piece of property. Many easement get passed by townships long after the pages to the Plat Book were entered. Comcast could have entered into an agreement with the political entity. As part of that agreeemnt the township passess a 10′ easement rule on the front and back of all properties in the township. Unless you have a letter from the planning commission to that effect you might be lacking some key evidence.

  14. triggerh says:

    Did John state any conditions for accepting the $500 credit? I would suggest continuing to pay your bill regardless of the credit as a way to show in record that you have not accepted their conditions (stated or not) and consult an attorney.

  15. chrylis says:

    Also, in most cases easements are restricted to the edges of the property. Even if there were an easement on this property, it appears from the descriptions that Comcast buried the line right through the middle of the yard.

    I agree with the demand for ongoing compensation (or a large enough lump sum to be equivalent); I’m a true believer in the Freakonomics principle that people do whatever they have incentives to do, and the only way to get people to stop this kind of BS is to make it unprofitable for them.

  16. Nighthawke says:

    I would suggest to the OP to contact the city hall to find out what options he has in claiming violations of easement. A lawyer savvy in this field might be smart too.

    Credits aside, Comcast needs to be taught a stuff lesson in civics and working with property owners in regards to easement and right of way.

  17. UCLAJason says:

    Easements are not always recorded in a deed. Easements can be created by Prescription, Necessity, Implication, and Grant There are requirements for each of these if an easement is to arise. It is true there is no recording with your recorders office therefore it seems the easement can not have arisen under the grant prong. Further, an easement of this type probably would not have arisen by necessity. JohnMc discussed a way that the easement may have arisen by implication. Finally, not knowing anything about local Texas law I would say that an easement may have arisen by Prescription which would mean that Comcast may have acquired the easement in a way analogous to acquisition of property by adverse possession.

  18. henrygates says:

    I think since you have record from the city that there is no easement, you should call them up and sort it out with them. Comcast could very easily just draft a document that describes an easement that doesn’t exist. It doesn’t matter what documents Comcast sends you. What matters is what the city has on file as official record.

  19. mzs says:

    I’ve written this before, but comcast ignored the easements on my property many times as well. Once they went diagonally across my yard to get cable to a neighbor. Another time they broke a section of my fence. They would not fix the fence either, saying it was a contractor that did that and the number they gave me to call was disconnected.

    It was infuriating and one of the reasons I have not had cable in seven years.

  20. henrygates says:

    I find the idea of an ‘implied’ easement disturbing. Especially with the assumption that no paperwork would be on public file. It kind of opens up a free for all for utilities to do what they please, when, without any (accessible) paperwork to secure their rights to do so?

  21. hills says:

    If Comcast doesn’t have an easement I wouldn’t work it out with them – Years down the road when it’s time to sell your house do you really want to have to let buyers know that Comcast has an easement?

  22. backbroken says:

    @JohnMc: So once again, the lesson here is you don’t own anything. The government owns it.

  23. UCLAJason says:

    @henrygates:
    I did not include it in the discussion but to relieve your fears I will elaborate. There are two types of easements. An easement appurtenant is an easement where one tract of land is benefited (the “dominant” land) and one tract is subject to the easement (the “servient” land). Needless to say this is not the case here. The case here would be an easement in gross. The owner of an easement in gross acquires the right to use the servient land independent of his possession of another tract in land. An easement in gross usually serves an economic or commercial interest.
    An implied easement can arise in two different ways. When we are talking an easement appurtenant an implied easement can arise from an existing use when:
    1. There was a single tract of land that was later subdivided
    2. An apparent and continuous use exists on the “servient” part
    3. The use was reasonably necessary for the enjoyment of the “dominant” part AND
    4. The court determines that the parties intended the use to continue after division of the land

    An easement implied without existing use will arise when lots are sold in a subdivision with reference to a recorded plat giving the easements. This is what JohnMc was talking about.

    In either case you will not just wake up one day with an easement. There was a way that you knew or should have known about the easement.

  24. Inglix_the_Mad says:

    FYI Take the “agreement” to a lawyer and have it vetted for not creating an easement. AT&T tried this with my friend.

  25. headhot says:

    If they are running cables through your yard and they are not in a easement, you have every right to ask them to remove the cables, remove them yourselves, or lease the property access to Comcast.

    Be careful though, as Comcast may decide its cheaper to move their cables then to pay you off.

  26. Solidgun says:

    This is still why I own a gun. I can’t always be a Mr. Nice Guy and sometimes, they will not cooperate.

  27. ShortBus says:

    @Solidgun: I don’t mind guns so much. The problem is that people like you are the ones that typically own one.

  28. AgentTuttle says:

    I didn’t stomp on your foot because I happen to know that there are two inches of empty space between your toes and the tip of your shoe. *STOMP STOMP*

  29. Snowblind says:

    I wonder how this will turn out.

    Chances are, if he accepted $500 that is all he is going to get. Comcast will claim they settled it with him and now he just back for more now that he thinks it is worth more.

    *Shrug*

    IANAL, but it would be interesting to see how one would argue the case.

  30. Difdi says:

    @ShortBus:

    I don’t mind guns so much. The problem is that people like you are the ones that typically own one.

    If several large people come onto your property, and start tearing up the lawn, and they ignore you when you ask them to provide proof they have a legal right to be there or leave, what can you do? Call the police? By the time they arrive, there will already be extensive damage. Call a lawyer? The point is to stop them from digging until they prove they have the right to, the lawyer will take days in all likelihood. Simply by existing, by being larger and more numerous than the homeowner, by holding tools that can double as weapons, by refusing to listen to reason, there is an implied threat of violence against the homeowner. What can the homeowner do, physically wrestle them off the property? What if they resist? Even threatening to call the police is an empty threat. Odds are they’ll be done and gone by the time the police arrive. No, the proper, civilized thing to do is to call the police, report trespassing vandals, and request a squad car. Then go get your gun.

    If you tell them to leave or provide such proof and they either refuse or simply ignore you, the sound of a weapon being cocked (I favor a pump action shotgun, though thanks to Hollywood, any gun sound would work) is remarkably effective in focusing their minds on the matter at hand. Ignoring a shrill whine about property rights is one thing; Ignoring the 12 gauge the homeowner just went into the house to retrieve is another matter entirely.

    When the homeowner walks out of the house with a shotgun (aimed up in the air, as you only aim at someone when you intend to kill them), the trespassers have a choice. Prove they are not trespassing by providing documentation of the easement, leave, or charge a loaded shotgun.

    Any way you slice it, the whiner they could comfortably ignore when he used only words, now must be taken seriously. If the homeowner asked them to prove they had a right to be there and was ignored, the homeowner has no idea if they are legitimately there, or are criminals.

    All he knows is they are vandalizing his yard and he wants them to stop. And absent proof to the contrary, the trespassers are in the wrong. This, by the by, is why police carry search warrants with them, rather than leaving them in a filing cabinet at the station. If even the police must present documentation to prove their right to enter, how can a cable contractor, a private citizen, get away with no documentation at all?

  31. DoctorMD says:

    Wait you are saying the local government can create an easement AFTER you have purchased your land? A 10-15′ cable easement would take a house out of consideration for me. Besides the appearing “green box” I have an ethical problem with them using my land to rip off my neighbors.

  32. UCLAJason says:

    @DoctorMD:
    I am not an expert with how local governments work but it is my understanding that the local government can not create an easement after you have bought the house unless they have complied with plat recordation as outlined above. This will give you as the buyer notice that the land is subject to an easement.

    On the other hand the cable company or anyone can obtain an easement by prescription after you have bought the land as outlined above.

  33. Raiders757 says:

    Being a surveyor, I have to ask…

    Does this person live on a public maintained street? I can only speak for my own state, but most everyone who lives on a public maintained street, has an easement, and these easements are often set before the street is even constructed.

    Did this person read the plat correctly. When you look at plats that have the street easements, the roads represent the toal easement, not where the street actually meets the curb/edge of grass. Like I mentioned in the other thread. If your street has a 50ft. easement, it means the easement ends 25ft. from the middle of the street. On these kind of plats, this is what you are looking at. What represents the street, is actually the 50ft. easement as well. I can see “Joe Homeowner” thinking the plat is showing where the street ends, and the curb begins, and that is just no so.

    Most property corners have rebar pins representing them. Where this pin is placed, is where the easement ends, or begines depending on how you wish to look at it. Well, that’s how it is in most new subdivisions. That isn’t always the case when you get into older areas, or out the sticks where acerage is involved.

  34. Indecent says:

    @Reeve:

    While thats all great and wonderful, any easement, even those implied for utility services, must be detailed to the buyer at the time of purchase in their title – they have the right to know of any and all easements and possible encroachments on their property, otherwise both the realtor (if there was one), the title company, and their title insurance company can be found at fault.

  35. synergy says:

    @Solidgun: You said what I was thinking. Or at least the same lines. My thought was that it surprises me someone didn’t come out with a gun shooting first and asking questions later. This IS Texas afterall. :D

  36. Keter says:

    You need a lawyer to verify that no current easement exists before you even accept that credit. In some states, a NEW easement can be created upon such acceptance. Then you need to have the lawyer look over any offer Comcast sends. Don’t do anything over the phone; everything between you and Comcast needs to be in writing now.

  37. Breach says:

    It is awesome the power that is The Consumerist!

    As I remembered they had a whole team devoted to scouring the web tubes for bad press, it seems to be paying off for customers :)

  38. Marshfield says:

    In our neighborhood, it’s clear if you get plat map that the street extends 20 feet on either side of the centerline. But the actual paved part of the street is just 30′. You could easliy think that 5′ of lawn is YOURS and in fact, you’re just borrowing it from the city as long as they feel like letting you use it. I trust the OP has this situation figured out?

    Some people in our neighborhood, I’m sure, got a shock when the city decided to put in a sidewalk and their front embankments were trimmed back 2-3 feet (they were above the street grade) and new retaining walls built so the sidewalk could go in.

  39. Reeve says:

    @Indecent:
    You are right, in a sense. The title company search would probably turn up these easements. BUT as has been explained by other posts these easements are common and probably would not constitute unmarketable title. The average buyer therefore is on record notice of it but may not have actual notice of it.

    Finally, an easement by prescription by its very nature will not be in writing. You are on inquiry notice of this type of easement when you buy property.

  40. autogol says:

    I see the stuff everybody learned from their Bar Review courses is still fresh on the mind. Amazing how long memories of trauma will persist.

  41. Onouris says:

    @Difdi: What are you going to do? Shoot someone for digging up your lawn?

    Get a grip.

  42. Meathamper says:

    But an easement would technically mean Comcast owns your property. Or am I missing something?

  43. Clsmooth says:

    There are easements on any underground development. I have worked with Comcast and they have complete legal grounds to come dig up your yard if it is within reason and necessary. There is a law that gives utilities the right to dig up their lines and work on them. They have to be able to fix their equipment under your yard.

    If there isn’t a listing of an easement with your local zoning board then its probably a mistake by them. Im sure comcast will send you the info to show you that as they have large maps of the information.

    Oh and someone said to call the police to stop them from digging. You can try that if you want to look like an ass in front of your local law enforcement who will promptly tell you that they have every right to dig up your front yard.

    Its funny that people will bitch and moan about there terrible service but don’t want to have the company come fix their lines if it inconveniences them.

  44. ludwigk says:

    @mzs: Diagonally across your yard? I would cut that shit down same day. There’s no way that I would let that go.

  45. meandi says:

    Seed and time it will take to spread it…$20.00

    The CSR hanging up on them (most likely, because the customer was being rude)…$480.00

    Being a BABY in public…Priceless

    Sorry ;-) but I just hate, when people blow these situations way out of proportion. Comcast “EXTREMELY OVER COMPENSATED” the customer in this case, and they’re still complaining about it.

  46. amigabill says:

    Interesting situation. My neighborhood is trying to get Comcast TO dig. There’s a large number of cable installs now that have had absolutely zero attempt to bury external runs. Wires have been lying above ground since at least November 2007 (it is now August 2008) all over the place. I can’t figure out why they haven’t been destroyed by the landscaping company mowing the common lawn areas these go across to get to the distribution points to the houses. I tried sending a complaint to Comcast’s VP of customer service that they put up a form for on their web site som emonths ago, twice, but never got any response. I’m now going to take photos, write down addresses the above-ground wires go to, complain by mail, and if no response then I’ll just have to send another copy to my county government department of licensing. We’d love them to bury their wires, I dont’ understand why they wont for us if they want to dig through your property.