Comcast: Fire Destroyed Your Cable Box? Pay Up.

Here’s one more thing to worry about when a fire destroys your home — Comcast.

From NBC 10:

Fire victims from the Riverwalk at Millennium condominium complex told NBC10 and the property management of the apartment complex that Comcast is going to charge residents to replace any cable boxes destroyed in the fire.

NBC 10 contacted Comcast and the company said it’s true.

Fire victims will have to cover the cost, but residents should get reimbursed by their insurance companies, whether they are renters or homeowners.

How much will fire victims have to pay?

“We don’t share specific information about our costs, but they can vary depending on the type of box — HD boxes, Digital Video Recorder, etc. We’re doing all we can to accommodate our customers who were affected by the fire,” a Comcast spokes person said.

“They have agreed to extend the due date for charges related to the damaged boxes until Nov. 15, which does allow the insurance companies for these residents time to process the claim and provide residents with funds for which to pay that due,” said Lauren McDonald from Riverwalk Property

Comcast says they’re not going to bill the fire victims for the cable they’re not watching and will waive future installation fees.

Comcast Charging Residents For Equipment Lost In Condo Fire [NBC 10] (Thanks, Steve !)
Conshohocken Apartment Fire Ruled Accidental
(Photo: WTXF )


Edit Your Comment

  1. AD8BC says:

    Once you get over all the other reasons to hate Comcast, I think this is OK. It’s a rented piece of property and it is covered by homeowners/renters insurance.

  2. ryan89 says:

    I side with Comcast on this one. Its not their fault the boxes were lost in a fire and it looks like they are being sort of lenient with the customers. That’s what renter’s insurance is for.

  3. SpdRacer says:

    That is so nice of them not to charge for cable they can’t watch, even better they aren’t going to charge when the building is rebuilt and residents can watch TV again.

  4. Krustey says:

    I am certainly no fan of comcast but why the hell shouldn’t they be charging them residents?

  5. Jevia says:

    Provided the people have renters insurance. There’s a lawsuit starting anyway, so its one more piece of damage to add into the list.

  6. SpdRacer says:

    @ryan89: It isn’t the fault of the people that live their either, let Comcast eat it.

  7. sprocket79 says:

    “We don’t share specific information about our costs, but they can vary depending on the type of box — HD boxes, Digital Video Recorder, etc.”

    Yeah because if they did, then everyone would be outraged to know that they cost $40 and everyone is being hosed by spending $13/month to rent them.

  8. cosby says:

    Whats wrong with this? You have their property and it gets destroyed under your watch. This is why you have renters insurance.

  9. allstarecho says:

    Can’t fault Comcast on this one. Of course, anyone that doesn’t have insurance will have to handle the price themselves. I know here, Comcast charges $250 for the basic digital box if you don’t return it. I have a friend whose house burned down this year and of course all 3 boxes were damaged either by water or fire. 1 was a basic digital box and the 2 others were HD boxes. Comcast waived all 3, not charging him anything for them. He said they told him to just trash them so I took them to see if I could clean them up/dry them out. I trashed them because they wouldn’t even power on. He’s now in his new home, with Comcast service and 3 new boxes.

  10. cosby says:


    Under that idea if I buy a car from the dealership and someone steals it it isn’t my fault. Why can’t the dealership eat it?

    They customers took responsibility for the boxes when they got them from comcast. If they want to try to sue the condominium complex for those damages as well as others then maybe. As it stands now they are responsible to comcast for those boxes.

  11. Johnyq1982 says:

    This is 100% not Comcast’s fault so why should they eat the cost of a cable box?

    If you have insurance it should be covered, if not that’s the price you pay for not insuring your belongings.

  12. BrianDaBrain says:

    Hello renter’s insurance! It’s there for a reason, and you can’t really ask Comcast (as much as I’d like to) to eat the cost of all those boxes.

    If you don’t have renter’s insurace… oops. Maybe you’ll know better next time.

  13. timmus says:

    They should pay only the ACTUAL wholesale value of the box… i.e. $20 to $40. But of course that will never happen without court or regulatory intervention.

  14. timmus says:

    (and if they’re not paying the wholesale value of the box, then it’s safe to say that Comcast is profiting from the fire)

  15. ryan89 says:

    @timmus: Wholesale is more likely in the hundreds.

  16. BrianDaBrain says:

    @sprocket79: Actually, this is not true. Boxes cost cable companies anywhere from $250-$750 per box. They’re not THAT much into ripping you off.

  17. Quilt says:

    That Comcast. A real classy bunch. Not making the people pay for the cable in their burned down residences.

  18. Farquar says:

    @SpdRacer: This isn’t socialism. Just because corp A has more money than person B doesn’t mean that corp A should have to pay for everything.

    This is something covered under homeowners or renters insurance. Comcast shouldn’t have to pay for this just because they can, and the residents are going to be paying either. If the residents didn’t have insurance, well, they screwed up. Renters insurance is about $10 a month.

  19. bonzombiekitty says:

    I’m with comcast as well on this one. Comcast did not cause the fire (which BTW, was a F******* HUGE fire), so they aren’t responsible for the damage to the equipment. So the renter has to pay for it. The renter can then be reimbursed by either the insurance company or whoever is found responsible for the fire.

  20. SkokieGuy says:

    There are already class action suits in some states over whether it is legal to require cable box rental (no purchase option and no purchase from another company option). The legal precedent is the ruling on Bell Telephone that eliminated the monopoly on renting telephones that ended in the 1970’s.

    I have contacted an attorney regarding this matter in Illinois.

    I wonder could one claim to have ‘lost’ their cable box. Be ‘required’ to purchase a replacement, then return a box and cancel the monthly rental? This would result in owning one box and eliminating perpetual rental.

  21. Zimorodok says:

    @SkokieGuy: That’ll work until the CableCo remotely disables your box or, more likely, writes it off in a database somewhere and your cable no-worky.

  22. gaya2081 says:

    This was a huge fire…it was started by the construction company…someone left a welding torch on and unattended. Renters were REQUIRED to have rental insurance.

    They are all upset about it AND I think comcast is dong well by not charging the cable and rehook-up AND giving them until November to pay up-so their insurance comes through.

  23. strife1012 says:

    Because we all know that they never reuse any equipment. I would go find the Charred and melted box and return it.

  24. Consumerist-Moderator-Roz says:

    @BrianDaBrain: We’re coasting pretty close to the ‘blame the victim’ line. Suggesting renter’s insurance should cover the damage? Fine. But let’s not be too smug or nasty about it, ok? This goes for everyone.

  25. coan_net says:

    If you are renting a cable box and it is destroyed, then you are responsible for it (well your insurance is)

    If not – then I guess I will go rent a car, wreak it, then say “O’well – I’m not using it anymore”

    It does not work that way – I’m responsible for the wreaked rented car… well at least my insurance is.

    How is this a consumerist issue?

  26. td0t says:

    I’m of the mindset that people need to pay up for these devices. It does suck that you have to rent them month to month, but they become your responsibility. This is exactly why insurance is there.

    @SkokieGuy: They may just deactive the lost box, making it useless in that case.

  27. SpdRacer says:

    @BrianDaBrain: A quick search of Google shows the most common brand(Scientific Atlanta) of converters is available for about $75-100$. So if the cable company is paying($250-$750 per box)that much for them they are getting seriously ripped off, but they aren’t so it is their customers who are getting ripped off.

  28. glorpy says:

    Time Warner charged me $32 when my cable modem was stolen. Insurance covered it in full since there was no depreciation.

  29. josephbloseph says:

    @SkokieGuy: If you have one of those 2-way communicating boxes, who knows, maybe they’ll know that it isn’t supposed to be active on your account.

    I like the class-action idea; though the idea of purchasing a box doesn’t appeal to me too much. If I think about it, boxes today may be behind the curve in the next 2 years, and I won’t be able to just ask for a new one.

  30. tundey says:

    What’s the big deal here? You rent a box, it’s destroyed, you pay for the box. Simple. This is why you need to evaluate whether renter’s insurance is a good idea.

    I think the real crime is requiring your customer to rent a box to access services they already pay for.

  31. SkokieGuy says:

    @Zimorodok: Sadly, you are no doubt probably right.

  32. GMFish says:

    Unless the boxes caused the fire, I’m on Comcast’s side here.

  33. twitch21 says:

    I had looked to rent at the Riverwalk at Millennium the week before the fire, so I was really shocked when it happened. I don’t believe Comcast is in the wrong for wanting compensation for the lost cable boxes. On the other hand, I don’t think that they would have acted the same if this was a single resident fire. The fact that Comcast is the only provider for the complex, and so many were customers were affected; they have more of a reason to seek compensation.

  34. Erwos says:

    @Consumerist-Moderator-Roz: I love “blame the victim”. These people are victims of a fire. Comcast is a victim of people not fulfilling reasonable contractual obligations. Which victim are we supposed to not blame?

  35. SpdRacer says:

    @Farquar: I am not saying that Comcast not be reimbursed, just not by the people who didn’t cause the fire and it needs to be a fair price for a USED piece of equipment. We know it won’t be, so Comcast can eat it.

  36. SigmundTheSeaMonster says:

    I see nothing wrong here. You, Comcast subscriber, entered an agreement and contract for cable services and box. Read the print and it states YOU are responsible for the box. Fire, water, wind, acts of … you are responsible.
    If you don’t have renter’s insurance, you asked for it.

  37. SkokieGuy says:

    @Erwos: I am a victim of baldness. I too blame Comcast.

    Interestingly, my cable service comes from RCN, but I blame Comcast, dammit. Evil monkey-balls sucking Comcast. Oh yeah, and the OP.

  38. Robobagins says:

    Why is this on the Consumerist? If anything this post should have been about the merits of renters insurance. Sure it’s in the insurance category, but not much about it is mentioned.

  39. highmodulus says:

    The anti-Comcast thing is getting a bit out of hand. I’m a bit disappointed with the tone and wording of the headline versus the article. A little more balance may be in order- don’t worry, Comcast will shoot themselves in the foot soon enough, and then you can let the snark back out (deservedly).

  40. jeffgentry says:

    @SpdRacer: You are right: It’s not the FAULT of the people that live there. However, it is the RESPONSIBILITY of the person leasing the equipment to return it or pay for it.

  41. FCL says:

    It’s possible to avoid the box. We’ve got bottom-of-the-line cable — just enough to get our local stations — and our line goes straight into the set.

  42. balthisar says:

    Generally when suing for something, you’re only eligible to recover the depreciated value, not the brand new value.

    How does that work in an instance like this?

  43. North Antara says:

    How ironic is it going to be when it’s discovered that a malfunctioning Comcast cable box was the cause of the fire?

  44. SpdRacer says:

    @cosby: It really isn’t the same thing, because when you send all that money to the dealership, at the end (ie. car payed off) you get to…. wait for it, KEEP the car.
    With the cable boxes you pay forever and never own anything.

  45. Xerloq says:

    The party responsible for starting the fire should have to pay, ultimately. The whole system is set up so that the liable party has to make the injured parties whole. Comcast isn’t being evil, but it is insult to injury to make the uninsured pay (though not technically wrong). Renters w/o insurance are already paying the “stupid tax” by losing all their belongings.

    The way my insurance works (and the way I suspect most works) is this: my apartment burns down. My insurance replaces my property and puts me up until I find a place to live.

    If the investigation shows that the fire was caused by action/negligence on my landlord’s part and my insurance company sues him and recovers their money.

    Investigation shows I’m at fault and it was an accident, my rates go up or I cannot be insured. If I commit arson, my insurance company sues me to recover their money.

    If it’s some third party, they get sued (unless they’re an enemy combatant or God, then I’m SOL). My insurance is there to cover me when I’m liable or the offending party is unknown or uninsured.

    Yeah, Comcast should get their boxes repaid, but renters who aren’t at fault for the fire should add it to the list of things they’ll sue the liable party for.

  46. ThinkerTDM says:

    Sorry you lost all of your possessions in a fire. Pay up for your damn cable box, because we are a multimillion dollar corporation. Pleas from a slacker with cooked stuff mean nothing to us.
    Oh, and if you don’t pay for that cable box, we will send this issue to collections. Think you are in tough shit now? Just wait!

  47. bobpence says:

    Insurance experts, please:

    My company leases equipment to manufacturers. Can I obtain insurance such that I would be covered if they have a fire?

    If so, do other comapnies do this, and in particular rent-to-own stores whose customers may be wiped out by a fire and uninsured?

    Does the cable company’s monthly insurance fee cover a loss like this?

    It would be great to be able to _routinely_ waive these sort of losses and give your customers one less thing to worry about, as Comcast did for allstarecho’s friend but not for these fire victims.

  48. ThomFabian says:

    OK, then just substitute the word “lease” for the word “buy” and its very close

  49. Xerloq says:

    @Xerloq: And after R-ing TFA, I think the residents should bring a civil suit against the company that did the repair with the acetylene torch. The fire inspector said that because the fire was accidental there was no additional action to be taken by law enforcement, meaning no criminal charges could be brought. But accidents are what insurance is for, and the company that did the repairs (or their insurance) should pay, IMHO.

  50. Darkwing_Duck says:

    @Xerloq: Comcast can get the money from the uninsured/insurance companies. Then the uninsured/insurance company can sue the company responsible for the fire.

  51. gladiatory2k says:

    We know your entire life just went up in smoke, and we are sure it is going to take you a while to get back on your feet, so you don’t have to pay us for another month, isn’t that great?

    Who says corporate compassion doesn’t exist.

  52. JollyJumjuck says:

    @SigmundTheSeaMonster: Agreed. I despise people who are too cheap to buy renters’ or homeowners’ insurance (or believe it will “never happen to them”), then lose all their belongings/home to a fire and cry for donations and public assistance to get them back on their feet.
    If you are honestly too poor to afford insurance (probably meaning you don’t have a lot of expensive things) or if you are hit with a calamity that insurance doesn’t cover (or worse: if the claims department is denying a legitimate claim) that’s one thing. But if you lose your belongings because you are too stupid to get insurance, don’t come whining to me.

  53. Colage says:

    @SpdRacer: Insurance covers (new) replacement value, not the actual value of the item, so “used” item price isn’t applicable.

    And who is the “victim”? There was a fire started by accident, and even if someone doesn’t have insurance it probably wouldn’t be too hard to get money from the construction company. Comcast is 100% right to expect compensation, and they’re giving a pretty big window of time to get the payment in for payment delay concerns.

    Then again, this is Consumerist, and any opportunity to put up a headline that slams Comcast will be jumped on regardless of the merit of the story.

  54. Farquar says:


    You can get insurance for just about anything. It would likely be less expensive for everyone involved if you required your lessees to ensure that your equipment was included on their insurance policies.

    You could do this, and then when you get your own insurance covering the same equipment your rates will be lower as your insurance company won’t expect to normally have to pay if your lessees insurance coverage does.

  55. Pipes says:

    Wow. Two coworkers of mine lived in that complex – one of them lost absolutely everything. I guess part of that money we raised for him will go to Comcast. Awesome.

  56. cf27 says:

    @SpdRacer: It’s more the fault of the people who live there than it is Comcast’s. How much control does Comcast have over whether there’s a fire in your building? None. You at least have some — you can avoid smoking in bed, playing with matches, etc….

    @Colage: That depends on your insurance. By default, most homeowner’s insurance only covers “fair market value.” You have to pay more if you want replacement value.

    Consider the car analogy — if your 15-year-old Honda Accord is totaled, do you get a new Accord, or just the value of the old one?

  57. Farquar says:

    We are all awfully socialist today. Rich people should have to pay for everything. We could overhaul the entire civil judicial system. From now on all civil cases will be decided this way: “Plaintiff, how much money do you have?” Defendant, how much money do you have?”

    “Plaintiff has more money, so Plaintiff loses. Pay the Defendant”

    Actually, the judicial system seems works exactly opposite this, but we try not to be so transparent about it.

  58. ElvisAndretti says:

    My cable box survived the fire, and when I was finally allowed to return ‘home’ the management told me that I would receive 4 days free rent for my firetrap, er, apartment.

    Having stood there and watched the way that place burned I would never spend another night there. The alarms didn’t work, the sprinklers didn’t work, the place burned like a fireworks display. The fire infrastructure in that part of conshohocken was totally inadeaquate, they had to run hoses from six to eight blocks away, across the railroad tracks!! They were supposed to pump water out of the river but the fire company could only get one pumper to actually pump.

    But I’m supposed to move back in like nothing happened. Oh, and on top of evertyhing else, I found out that the place was built on a toxic waste site.

    Comcast is the least of my problems right now.

  59. axiomatic says:

    Yeah my issue is not that Comcast wants their money. It’s that they are asking for it this quickly. something tells me that Comcast “grace” period should be about six months until these families even begin to truly recover from this fire that they did not cause.

    Stay classy Comcast… you bunch of losers.

  60. linoth says:

    I have to agree with others. Sounds like Comcast is trying to pass on the charge on to the insurance companies. Why should they have to eat the cost on something that was being rented by the customer? If you justify them eating the cost for that, then you’re opening the door to Comcast paying for any loss of the box, including owner incompitence.

    While I’m no fan of big business and Comcast has proven themself to be a heartless monster, I’m really seeing nothing wrong with this on their part. Sounds more like it might be somebody’s attention grab to try and guilt Comcast into crediting them for their device so they don’t have to go through the insurance company.

  61. SonicMan says:

    There is only one way I can see for comcast to pay for the box replacement. They should pay, only if it is found that a faulty cable box started the fire. But this is not the case.

    It looks like some workers did a poor job at fixing some railings. Whatever company that was should pay all damages.

  62. rockintom says:

    Comcast should not have to eat the cost of these because they are somehow at fault; they should eat the cost because it’s the right thing to do.

    I suspect that renters insurance will go a long way to replacing a lot of destroyed items, but I doubt if it will cover the cost to replace everything.

    I suppose expecting compassion is too much to expect from a multi-million dollar company. Oh well – let’s add 2 parts insult to the 1 part injury.

  63. lordargent says:

    BrianDaBrain: @sprocket79: Actually, this is not true. Boxes cost cable companies anywhere from $250-$750 per box.

    Someone, somewhere along the line is getting ripped off.

    $250 wholesale for a basic standard def cable box? Um, no.

  64. Colage says:

    @axiomatic: November 15 is about 3 months – that’s plenty of time for an insurance claim. It’s not like someone has to be in a positive mental state to cut a check.

    @cf27: Auto insurance is different from property insurance; property is supposed to replace the insured items whereas auto more or less “buys” the car from you.

  65. @SpdRacer:

    It isn’t the fault of the people that live their either, let Comcast eat it.

    This is why people have insurance. Comcast shouldn’t have to eat it, but neither should the renters. If the renters are responsible, they have insurance, and it’s not a cent out of their pocket. If they don’t have insurance, they allowed someone else’s property to be destroyed while in their care, and despite the lack of intent, it’s their responsibility to replace that property.

    The only thing Comcast should fear is the lawsuits they may ultimately get over somebody dying while trying to retrieve their cable box while their house burns down around them.

  66. @lordargent:

    Someone, somewhere along the line is getting ripped off.

    $250 wholesale for a basic standard def cable box? Um, no.

    I don’t mean to be adversarial, but what kind of expertise do you have in electronics manufacturing and systems design that lets you know how much these boxes do or don’t cost?

    As someone who works for an electrons manufacturer, and has some measure of understanding about the complexity and costs of these devices, I’d say $200 to $500 cost for a SD or HD box is realistic.

  67. RulesLawyer says:

    As a comparison point, when I had a major house fire back in 2003, it completely melted the central station of my ADT security system (no, I didn’t have fire detection included) and completely coated the inside and outside of my Dish Network receiver with an oily soot.

    When I called to cancel both accounts, neither company asked to be paid for the destroyed hardware, even though they were rented. ADT asked to come to the house to get the hardware back; I told them they were welcome to the re-hardened plastic goo and burned out metal case. They said never mind. When I told Dish Network the receiver was destroyed by soot, they also said they didn’t want it back.

    So yeah, although Comcast is within its right to ask for reimbursement for their boxes, they’re jerks for doing so.

  68. blainer says:

    @Consumerist-Moderator-Roz: Considering that Comcast was the rightful owner of the destroyed cable boxes, aren’t they a victim here?

  69. KatieO, yo. says:

    I actually live down the street from where this fire was. All tenants were required to have renter’s insurance. While there is a big scuffle b/c some had lapsed, most people should be covered for the damages.

    Maybe not the most tasteful way to do things, considering this fire was so fierce it literally burnt buildings to the ground, but understandable at least…

  70. celloperson says:

    those boxes cost anywhere between 100-400 bucks… so yeah. expen$ive.

  71. pgh9fan says:

    What’s the big story? Fire destroyed their boxes and they have to replace them. That’s life. I wouldn’t expect Comcast to pay for them. I just hope the renters have insurance. Most renters don’t buy it.

  72. Colage says:

    @RulesLawyer: How is that a comparison? You had a fire in a house that destroyed what was in your house and only your house (or, I imagine, your house and one or two others) whereas that building probably had 200 units in it. I’m sure Comcast would probably not gripe about eating the cost of one box, but when the losses start reaching into the $50,000 range they can probably be excused for not wanting to write it off.

  73. Greeper says:

    They (Comcast) aren’t insurers and shouldn’t have to eat the cost of it.

  74. Sudonum says:

    “Auto insurance is different from property insurance; property is supposed to replace the insured items whereas auto more or less ‘buys’ the car from you”

    Wrong. I lost most of my worldly possessions in Katrina. My insurance covered the “fair market value” of the items. Not the replacement value. And then the amount was based on the limits of the “contents” portion of the flood policy, in may case $60k. So my insurance company gave my wife and I $60k for items that cost us $150k when new.

    Even now, on my homeowners insurance I can opt for “fair market value” of the house, or pay a larger premium and get “replacement” value. The default position in ANY policy is “fair market value”. So unless your homeowners policy is for “replacement” value, and your house burns down, your insurance company is not going to build you a new one. They will cut you a check for the fair market value and be on their way.

  75. You know, with all the horrible PR for Comcast, you’d figure they would be like “hey, let’s get some positive PR and let’s go above and beyond and replace these guys cable boxes for free! Sure, it’ll cost a few grand for us to replace them, but a few grand for such positive PR will get us more customers and existing customers won’t think we are monsters!”.

    Instead, they go the “Hey, let’s piss off everyone again!” route.. yet again. Or as I like to call it, the Comcast Route.

  76. jennyfur says:

    @gaya2081: I work down the street from the Riverwalk and had toured it back when I was looking for a place to live. At no point do I recall them ever saying renters insurance was required. In fact, none of the apartments I’ve ever lived in have (although I’m not stupid, I’ve always gotten insurance anyway). And trust me, anybody living in that complex definitely had the means to afford insurance. That place wasn’t cheap.

    But I agree with the majority here. Comcast is being more than reasonable by giving the residents until November to pay for their boxes. They can’t be expected to just eat the cost of that much gear.

  77. Scoobatz says:

    I’m not a big fan of Comcast, but I can’t argue with them on this one. They shouldn’t have to eat the cost of hundreds of damaged converter boxes. However, does anyone know how it was determined that Comcast will charge residents for boxes? Was information obtained based on a customer contacting Comcast, or did Comcast pre-emptively make a public statement?

  78. milqtost says:

    @SkokieGuy: Disclosure: I work in the cable industry. But I still don’t see why people are so hot to buy a cable box. It’s not like a cable modem where you can buy one for under $50. New set tops with features like DVR go for well over $500 to the cable companies – and that is with them buying millions a year. What price do you think that translates to for a single buyer at retail? Never mind that they are effectively obsolete in 2-3 years. Thanks but I’d rather pay the rental charge.

  79. RevRagnarok says:

    @SkokieGuy: It’s called CableCARD. I own my TiVo3 and I rent a $5 card from Comcrap to have it on their network.

    (PS. It hurts to say it, really really hurts, but I’m with about 95% of the commenters and I’m with Comcast on this one… when I had an apartment, Renter’s Insurance was under $100 a YEAR.)

  80. @Xerloq:

    How can you prove something to be an “act of god?”

    Don’t you have to first prove that there IS a “god” in order for something to be an “act of god”

  81. joellevand says:

    I’m going to agree with the majority for once and say that Comcast is not at fault and should not have to eat the cost of this. The cost should come out of the tenant’s renter’s insurance, and if the tenant did not have renter’s insurance, that is the price you pay for not having insurance.

    Can’t blame Comcast for this one.

    Also, my husband calls this place The Communist. Reading the sensationalized headline and the general tone of the article which believes that Comcast should suck it up plus the Comment Enforcer saying we’re all “blaming the victim” (or coming close to it) because we want people to be responsible makes me think he’s right. Personal responsibility is greatly lacking nowadays, and yet it’s the first step toward being a good consumer, and this place is still called The Consumerist, not The Communist, right?

  82. red3001 says:

    i think whoever the fault the fire is should have to pay for it. comcast should go after that party.

    Can’t wait to see them take on “Act of God”.

  83. NikonGal says:

    I think Comcast is missing out on a big source of income here. Why doesn’t Comcast sell insurance on their boxes? They can charge customers an extra…say…$20 a year to insure the box against fire, theft and other damages. I have three boxes and I certainly don’t want to pay for them if my house burns down!

  84. Dyscord says:

    As much as I hate to say it, Comcast IS in the right here. If a fire destroys your home, it’s not their responsibility. This is EXACTLY what homeowners insurance was created for. The fact that they’re not charging for the cable or installation fees is good enough on their part.

  85. Colage says:

    @Sudonum: I’d imagine you need to re-read your insurance policy. A microwave (for example) doesn’t have a “fair market value” (whereas, say, a house or a car does) – there’s no market for used microwaves. If an insurance company is trying to say that your 10 year old, $50 microwave is worth $10 now because that’s what you’d get on the market for it, you should be disputing it.

  86. roger2001 says:

    Actually, Comcast has action, and can expect to be paid by the people that were renting the box. Thats why they had dealings with. Now that can be the insurance company, whom the homeowner pays to take on that risk.

    IF this was not an accident, then the homeowner could then sue for damages (that would include the cost of the box). Comcast can not because they did not have a contract with the person who, in this scenerio, was liable for starting the fire.

    In either case, Comcast is in the right, like most people are saying.

  87. chrylis says:

    @JollyJumjuck: And, to make a side note, if you can afford upgraded cable (many apartments come with basic cable for free, and then you only need a box for “fancy” cable), you can afford $10/mo for renter’s insurance.

    @rockintom: Expecting good customer/public relations from a company isn’t unreasonable, but I have to say that in this case, while it’d be classy, it isn’t necessarily the “right” thing to do (i.e., it’d be advantageous, but there’s no moral imperative). Funny thing, though; most multi-million-dollar companies have great customer service. It’s the multi-billion-dollar ones who get voted the second-worst company in America.

  88. godlyfrog says:

    Personally, I think Comcast should credit these customers the money they’ve paid in rental for these units and charge them the remainder. When I set up my renters insurance, I had to think about how much I thought I would need to replace everything, then double it. The cable box was not on my mind when I did so, meaning most of these renters probably weren’t thinking about replacing their cable box, either. I think that while Comcast is justified in having the units replaced, they are also going to make out quite well on this if they charge the replacement price.

  89. t325 says:

    I’m the last person to defend Comcrap, but I can’t fault them here. Someone’s gotta pay for it, and if you don’t have insurance, that’s your problem, not theirs.

  90. glycolized says:

    @Sudonum: I think that homeowners policies must vary quite a bit – maybe depending on the nature of the claim.

    A few years ago, my house was burglarized, and I sat on the phone looking up prices on the internet with a claims person on the phone. TV, DVD player, etc. We “shopped” for equivalent replacements, and she totaled it up and that was my check amount (minus deductible).

    Maybe there are different reimbursement rates for weather/acts-of-nature – type claims??

  91. Josh885 says:

    I don’t see how any one can think that comcast should pay considering when you get the service you sign a contract stating you’re liable for the box if it gets destroyed while in your possession.

    One of the big things ruining the republic (and yes the u.s. is a republic not a democracy. Well at least it’s supposed to be.) is the attitude that if making people live up to their responsibility and or contractual obligations might hurt their feelings it’s some how morally wrong to do so.

  92. warf0x0r says:

    My local cable franchise, owned by comcast, has the sh!ttiest cable boxes, digital explorer 8000. The things cannot be “worth” more than 80 bucks. I’m sure Comcast would ask for 800…

    These people probably are going to pay more than their boxes are worth.

  93. Sudonum says:

    A microwave does have a fair market value, just ask the IRS when a restaurant starts to depreciate one. Using your appliance example, my refrigerator had a “fair market value” of approximately 50% of what we had paid for it 5 years prior. And no, it’s not just big ticket items. It’s all of your possessions. Unless you have something that is collectible and therefore an appreciating asset, your insurance company will give less than you paid for it under the standard terms of most policies.
    Maybe your policy was for “full replacement value”? rather than “full market value”? You can pay more for such a policy. Or you had a sympathetic adjuster. Some adjusters are independent contractors.

    Trust me I learned way more than I wanted to about insurance after Katrina. “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted” and I got lots of experience.

  94. Sudonum says:

    Oh, and if you do have something collectible, better get a separate rider for it with an appraisal, or the insurance company will not recognize it as such and will try to give you less than you paid for it. Same for any expensive jewelry you may own.

  95. newfenoix says:

    @Xerloq: Agreed. Comcast should be going after the construction company that started the fire, not the renters.

  96. stevegreen says:

    My house burned down a few years ago, and i had the same type of problem, except with Directv. I had two receivers that I bought in 2005, and they got completely destroyed, and Directv tried to charge me $300 per box because I didn’t send them back in. They claimed that I had entered into a lease agreement with them when I bought the receivers, even though they didn’t have their “all receivers are leased” policy in place when the receivers were purchased. And the fun part was that they wouldn’t look up my records to find out when those receivers were activated, and all my receipts got destroyed in the fire, so I had no way to prove what I was claiming. Long story short, I used a lot of advice I found on this site, and after six months, they reversed the charges and gave me six months of free premium service for being a good customer.

    As far as this story goes, however, if these people entered into a rental agreement for the boxes, Comcast, for once, seems to be in the right.

  97. lordargent says:

    lordargent: I don’t mean to be adversarial, but what kind of expertise do you have in electronics manufacturing and systems design that lets you know how much these boxes do or don’t cost?

    I’ve worked with component engineers for 11 years (I’m a software engineer, but I know enough to figure around what a device should cost part wise. Royalties are a different matter).

    I’d say $200 to $500 cost for a SD or HD box is realistic.

    $200-$500 sounds reasonable retail for a HD box.

    But for a SD box wholesale, it sounds like a ripoff. Which makes me think one of the following is going on.

    1) Comcast charging them the retail (vs wholesale) price to replace the boxes.

    2) There is some sort of “replacement” fee meant to prevent box theft that’s tacked on automatically.

    /It’s just like cable modems. The cable company will rent a cable modem to you for ~$5-$10 per month, but actually buying the cable modem retail is only ~$70. Even back when cable modems were $120, it was better to buy one outright in the longterm.

    /Bought a series 3 tivo, so I don’t deal with POS cable boxes anymore (now it’s POS cable cards :D ).

  98. Meathamper says:

    Comcast is horrible, so that’s why I use Time Warner Cable, which sucks less.