You can't have a cabletv box and live in a flooded area at the same time
July 31, 2002 7:25 PM   Subscribe

You can't have a cabletv box and live in a flooded area at the same time Unless you're ready to pay $300 for repairs. Corporate lack of clue ?! They didn't flood the place, but they must pay like they did it.
posted by elpapacito (19 comments total)
I don't see what's so outrageous here. If those customers were unwilling to take responsibility for their converter boxes, they shouldn't have signed the contract with the cable company. It's not as if the cable company is responsible for the flood damage; why are they any more obligated to shoulder the burden of repair costs? What do the offended customers think the clause in their contract making them responsible for repair costs is intended to accomplish? I would expect that the vast majority of damage to converter boxes is unintentional; this clause does not exist merely for the rare instance of a disgruntled customer taking a sledgehammer to their box.

I expect customers with flood insurance will be compensated by their insurance company for the cost. (Doubt many had flood insurance, though.)
posted by mr_roboto at 7:54 PM on July 31, 2002

This might be a reason for AOL Time Warner's stand.
posted by flatlander at 8:06 PM on July 31, 2002

Wouldn't flood insurance cover something like this? I sure hope so. The cable company is simply doing what it should although probably not the most sympathetic.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 8:10 PM on July 31, 2002

If a cable company is unwilling to insure it's assets (which it owns), then they shouldn't be taking that out on their customers.

I never understood companies who want to lease/rent you equipment and then act like you own it. There are companies around here that go both ways. Considering there are people who pay my local telco 10$/month for (sometimes) up to 10+years, I think it only makes sense for them to take that phone when it breaks and to bite their tongue (which they do)...

It seems to me that there should be more to being a good company than huge profits. You'd think these companies would get a clue considering the recent problems some American companies have been having with their accounting.
posted by Jevon at 8:12 PM on July 31, 2002

Well, the NY Times has surely gotten tricky.

Anyway, AOL Time Warner's stock price has fallen to $11.50 a share since the Mega Merger.
This is not a smart PR move.
posted by flatlander at 8:17 PM on July 31, 2002

I'm sure Time Warner is well within their legal rights here, but I'll bet they'll lose a whole lot more from this as a bad PR move then they'll gain by requiring their customers to pay.

If 600 cable boxes were destroyed, and the company was supposed to eat a $180,000 loss, I could see taking a stand without leniency. But if it's only a few - the article mentions that there have only been a few claims - the company can get a whole lot more PR mileage out of magmanimously forgiving the cost of the boxes for the flood victims. Sometimes altruism makes good business sense.

And the comparison between a burglary and a flood is a shaky comparison. There's a long tradition of helping people who have become the victims of natural disasters. It's not like forgiving the cost of these cable boxes would somehow obligate the company to do the same in the future, or create some sort of new cable-box-entitlement.
posted by Chanther at 8:19 PM on July 31, 2002

TWC could have had a little more tact. I have cable modem plus all the digital bells and whistles and they don't even blink when my box stops working or I lose my remote. They can't make revenue from me if that box doesn't work. And if they piss me off, I'm going back to DirecTV. Having a choice is nice.
posted by birdherder at 9:09 PM on July 31, 2002

RE: flood insurance

A lot of the time flood insurance is simply not available unless you live in an identified flood plain and sometimes not then. Due to some construction near a piece of property my family owns and the change in drainage that it caused, we looked into flood insurance. We could not get any. There is a creek nearby but that made no difference.
posted by bargle at 9:28 PM on July 31, 2002

mr_roboto: very lawyeresque and probably correct, but consider customers shouldn't be held liable if a natural disaster occours because it's TOTALLY out of their control.

Consider that: you rent an house and the contract says
that you're responsible for any damage caused by ANY kind
of human or natural event. An earthquake strikes and the house is severely damaged. You could do NOTHING to protect the house. How can one be considered responsible of the damages of one thing that nobody can control ?

Same applies to flooding.
posted by elpapacito at 6:21 AM on August 1, 2002

well, elpapacito if you signed that contract then you are considered responsible.....signing it or not was well within your control as an individual.
posted by zoopraxiscope at 6:40 AM on August 1, 2002

zoo: obvious, but that doesn't mean anything written in contract is automagically legal. Say you'll sign a contract to kill somebody, is that legal because it's signed ?
posted by elpapacito at 6:48 AM on August 1, 2002

jeez... I'm stuck deciding between a rock and a hard place just to watch TV.

That's it, I'm getting a dish.
posted by Kellydamnit at 6:57 AM on August 1, 2002

well no, elpap, such a contract would be manifestly illegal. but since that aside has little to do with anything, i'll just leave you to your own devices.
posted by zoopraxiscope at 7:03 AM on August 1, 2002

zoo: if you didn't understand I'll explain again in a extremely simplified explanation: you can't sign a killer contract because it is illegal to kill . Ok ? Follow me ?

Now :

1) you're reponsible of what you sign , that's correct.
2) you take responsability of the EFFECTS of a natural
event by signing a contract that gives you such responsabilty
3) but given that you can't control neither the event
or the effects of the event (can u control a quake ?)
4) it seems illogical to me that one may be responsible of
something that is totally out of his control

You see that many times insurance companies don't cover natural disasters. Why ? Because given that they're uncontrollable and unpredictable they don't want to take the risk.

Now a contract that gives u responsability of the damned cablebox in such a way that YOU pay ANY damage that may occur to the cablebox is an insurance contract !

And I think it's not a valid insurance contract too because the cableco doesn't pay you anything for bearing that risk
and no power is given to you to take action and minimize the risk : in other words, you can't even move the friggin cablebox in a safe place. How can be such a contract be considered valid ?

And I quit now because they wait me in court. Disclaimer, IANAL but I don't care.
posted by elpapacito at 7:49 AM on August 1, 2002

i understand pal, i just don't care.
posted by zoopraxiscope at 7:58 AM on August 1, 2002

Sad truth :(
posted by elpapacito at 8:16 AM on August 1, 2002

I live in an identified flood plain, and flood insurance is required here by the County and State. In fact, you can't even close on a new house unless you have proof of flood insurance in almost 75% of the urban Sacramento downtown/midtown neighborhoods. According to my policy, telecommunications devices owned by third parties, such as cable boxes, Satellite transmitters, DSL modems or various types of junction boxes, routers, etc. are all covered as if they were my own property. From talking to others in the neighborhood, this seems like a relatively generic clause.
posted by luriete at 9:04 AM on August 1, 2002

Whether the damage was the customer's fault is irrelevant. Yes, the flooding was a natural disaster and totally out of the customer's control. It was also totally out of the cable company's control as well. The issue here is the apportionment of risk; between two innocent (in the sense that neither has any responsibility for causing the damages) parties, who should bear the risk of loss? In this case, the contract presumably places that burden of risk on the customer.

Is this equitable? Perhaps not. But the customer was not forced to use the cable service under those contractual conditions, and chose to do so anyway. Leaving the cable company in a solid legal position.

But a damned unfriendly one at that. Not a good customer relations decision on their part.
posted by John Smallberries at 10:49 AM on August 1, 2002

Cooler heads have prevailed:

TWC/San Antonio Site

Time Warner Cable will NOT charge for lost or damaged cable equipment for customers in the recent flood!

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS. July 31, 2002--“Time Warner Cable customers will NOT be charged for any cable equipment lost or damaged in the recent flood,” said Kevin G. Kidd, the new president of Time Warner Cable San Antonio. In addition, Kidd said, “Time Warner Cable has an executive response team ready to assist any of our customers who suffered cable equipment losses as a result of the flood.” For more information, Time Warner Cable customers can call (210) 244-0500.
posted by khisel at 8:12 PM on August 1, 2002

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