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Comcast Compensates Woman For Exploding Cable Box
After Explosion Destroys Cable Box and Television
by Karl Bode 08:21AM Friday Nov 30 2012
Comcast has compensated a California woman after her cable box spontaneously exploded. According to San Francisco ABC affiliate KGO-TV, Comcast initially took two days to come out and replace the box, but insisted there was nothing the company could do about the fact that the explosion also damaged her television set. "I was very distressed because I had the feeling that they caused the problem so they should be taking care of it very quickly," the affiliate's consumer issues reporter (a truly dying breed). Comcast says they could not determine whether the explosion was the fault of the electrical outlet or the cable box, but after being prodded by the news outlet Comcast (or more accurately their insurance company) ponied up $290 for a replacement television.

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telcodad
Premium
join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
kudos:15

What make/model box?

Does anyone know the make and model of that cable box?
beavercable
Premium
join:2008-05-11
Beaverton, OR

Re: What make/model box?

Most likely a dct 2000 (giant black box).

telcodad
Premium
join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
kudos:15

Re: What make/model box?

said by beavercable:

Most likely a dct 2000 (giant black box).

Or maybe it was one of those sleek, gray DCT1800 units, with (the then) state-of-the-art, separate "baseband [composite, SD] video and [stereo] audio" outputs! :
»www.motorola.com/staticfiles/Sup···uide.pdf

baineschile
2600 ways to live
Premium
join:2008-05-10
Sterling Heights, MI

Motorola

If Motorola/Pace made the box, shouldnt they pay? I am not sure about the logistics of company box ownership works, but it seems to be that unless there was some sort of electrical surge over the cable line that did damage, that box problems would go back to the maker.

Nonetheless, glad it worked out for this woman.

telcodad
Premium
join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
kudos:15

Re: Motorola


Replacement STB
Well, the replacement box shown in the video is a Pace RNG110, they didn't say what the original one was though.

IowaCowboy
Iowa native
Premium
join:2010-10-16
Springfield, MA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Verizon Broadban..
·Comcast

Re: Motorola

Comcast (or their contractors) does disassemble boxes to repair/refurbish them. Once they disassemble a box, it voids any manufacturers warranties and releases the manufacturer of any and all liability. With the millions of pieces of CPE, it is almost impossible to track each piece of equipment. It is also possible a customer may have tampered with the box in hopes of stealing cable.

All my cable boxes/modems are plugged into surge protectors. And they are good quality surge protectors (not the cheap $10 specials from Walmart). My surge protectors come from Best Buy. My living room and bedroom TVs are plugged into surge protectors that cost over $80. My cable modem is plugged into a UPS as I also plug my laptop and iOS devices into the same UPS brick.
Joe12345678

join:2003-07-22
Des Plaines, IL

Re: Motorola

best buy?? likey you can get the same $80 one for about $50 at an other store.
kxrm

join:2002-07-18
Fort Worth, TX

Re: Motorola

said by Joe12345678:

best buy?? likey you can get the same $80 one for about $50 at an other store.

Yea, Best Buy isn't going to guarantee quality, just that you will pay more for the feeling of it.
patcat88

join:2002-04-05
Jamaica, NY
kudos:1
All plug in surge protectors are the same regardless of cost. An MOV is an MOV.
SCADAGeo

join:2012-11-08
N California
kudos:2

Metal-Oxide Varistors

Metal-Oxide Varistors (MOVs) should be replaced every 2-3 years because they degrade with each transient (surge) suppressed.

More often if you are in a lighting prone area.
westom

join:2009-03-15
kudos:1

1 recommendation

Re: Metal-Oxide Varistors

said by SCADAGeo:

Metal-Oxide Varistors (MOVs) should be replaced every 2-3 years because they degrade with each transient (surge) suppressed.

Protectors are installed to make irrelevant transients that occur maybe once every seven years. Such protectors must be sized to even earth direct lightning strikes - and remain fuctional a decade later.

Protectors, that are grossly undersized, will even fail on a first surge. A naive consumer jumps to assumptions without learning facts. "My protector sacrificed itself to save my computer." Total nonsense.

A current incoming to a protector is simultaneously outgoing to an appliance on the other side. A surge too tiny to overwhelm protection in that appliance may also destroy a grossly undersized protector. That increases sales when the naive consumer makes his assumptions. Same myth that recommended that protector also recommends replacing it monthly or yearly. Because it is a profit center; not a protector.

Better protection is already inside every appliance. Even dimmer switches. How often are you replacing dimmer switches every 2 to 3 years? Even dimmer switches are often more robust than a 'profit center' protector.

Lightning is typically 20,000 amps. So one properly sized 'whole house' protector (for everything) is rated at 50,000 amps. So remain functional even for decades.
westom

join:2009-03-15
kudos:1
said by IowaCowboy:

All my cable boxes/modems are plugged into surge protectors. And they are good quality surge protectors (not the cheap $10 specials from Walmart). My surge protectors come from Best Buy.

View specification numbers on those $80 protectors. Similar to what sells in WalMart for $10. Best Buy knows where to obtain their profits.

Also view spec numbers for the UPS. For example, this 120 volt sine wave UPS outputs 200 volt square waves with a spike of up to 270 volts. And they did not lie. They just forgot to provide the relevant numbers. That square wave and spike is a sum of pure sine waves. So it is called a pure sine wave output - as long as the claim is made subjectively. They also know how to reap profits from consumers who judge quality based only in price.

Why is that UPS perfectly ideal for all electronics? Because protection already inside all 120 volt electronics even makes that 270 volt spike completely irrelevant.

Your concern is a transient that occurs maybe once every seven years. The UPS does not even claim to protect from that. Other solutions do.
rradina

join:2000-08-08
Chesterfield, MO

Did Insurance Really Pay?

I asked a similar question regarding Verizon and Hurricane Sandy. Ideas were being expressed about Verizon's insurance paying to rebuild everything. Despite asking if anyone had facts, there was never any information that lead me to believe Verizon was insured. Likewise I'm skeptical that Comcast has insurance for incidents like this. Verizon and Comcast are large corporations and as such, they generally self insure.

As I also mentioned in my Verizon post, they might have what's called a "stop-loss" policy in that they self insure incidents up to a maximum ($1M or $1B or ???) and the stop-loss policy covers the rest.

Regardless, I do not believe insurance covered this unless someone from Comcast can tell me that they don't self insure. Even if they are insured, the cable box and TV loss are likely below the incident deductible.
beavercable
Premium
join:2008-05-11
Beaverton, OR

Re: Did Insurance Really Pay?

Comcast self insures.

tshirt
Premium
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:5

$300 was cheaper..

...then having someone educate the woman and TV audience, not to mention the reporter, about the extreme unlikelyhood of a cable box spontanously "exploding".
rradina

join:2000-08-08
Chesterfield, MO

1 recommendation

Re: $300 was cheaper..

Agreed but it said the explosion "damaged" her television set. I don't have the facts but if a capacitor went, it would seem as if the box "exploded". My initial assumption, as perhaps others, was that the TV was damaged by "cable box" shrapnel. It's more likely that nothing really "flew apart" and the damage was nothing more than the TV's input circuit (RF/Composite/HDMI) getting fried from an electrical surge.

tshirt
Premium
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:5
Reviews:
·Comcast

Re: $300 was cheaper..

And if her old TV was a CRTit's even more likely that it (being a high voltage,high capacidence device) fried the cable box.
Cable boxes and other settops have reletively low capcity, even less than a basic flat screen tv (if she was happy with $300, it was a pretty basic tv)

telcodad
Premium
join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
kudos:15

Re: $300 was cheaper..

said by tshirt:

And if her old TV was a CRT it's even more likely that it (being a high voltage, high capacidence device) fried the cable box.
Cable boxes and other settops have relatively low capacity, even less than a basic flat screen tv (if she was happy with $300, it was a pretty basic tv)

From the video, it looks like the TV that was damaged was the old silver Sony CRT TV located in the cabinet under the cable box. The "spare" TV appears to be the smaller black CRT one located on the stand to the right.
tkdslr

join:2004-04-24
Pompano Beach, FL
Reviews:
·T-Mobile US
I seen several damaged LCD screens.. caused by... no less than Hot coffee.. the rising steam discoloring one of the several layers of film on the bottom of the LCD..

Yes, the Steam/electrolytic solution from a bursting capacitor can damage a modern TV.
adampsyreal

join:2012-10-13
Reviews:
·Comcast

Comcast cuts corners

I used to be a Comcast cable tech.
A couple of years ago I saw something like this.
**I found that the cable entering the house had not been properly grounded.
*This caused multiple cable boxes & TV's in the house to die.
I later heard that Comcast replaced the customer's TV's.
(the boxes did not explode in my case)

Bill Neilson
Premium
join:2009-07-08
Arlington, VA

Eh, I actually agree with Comcast if two independent

groups said the same thing.....but then again, nobody could actually tell us why it exploded....so again, I can see why Comcast would not give in.

But oh my god, Comcast MAY GO UNDER NOW! THEY GAVE OUT $300!!!! WHAT WILL THEIR SHAREHOLDERS THINK! NNNNOOOOOO
tkdslr

join:2004-04-24
Pompano Beach, FL
Reviews:
·T-Mobile US

Re: Eh, I actually agree with Comcast if two independent

Presumably.. Some medium to high voltage line dropped onto Comcast pole to pole connections.. (resulting in a neighborhood outage as reported..)

Any nearby weak links, like poor or corroded ground bonding's would expose the customer connected devices to that high voltage. Boom, no more cable box, TV and anything else connected to the setup via wire.. (tosh link would be ok)..

telcodad
Premium
join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
kudos:15

Re: Eh, I actually agree with Comcast if two independent

said by tkdslr:

Presumably.. Some medium to high voltage line dropped onto Comcast pole to pole connections.. (resulting in a neighborhood outage as reported..)

Any nearby weak links, like poor or corroded ground bonding's would expose the customer connected devices to that high voltage. Boom, no more cable box, TV and anything else connected to the setup via wire.. (tosh link would be ok)..

This is why I have my cable modem plugged into an APC UPS, my TV boxes into AC surge protectors, and replaced my ground block with a TII model 212 coaxial surge protector: »www.digicomm.com/tii210.pdf

I haven't had any problems with lightning storms or other potential HV surge sources yet.
tkdslr

join:2004-04-24
Pompano Beach, FL
Reviews:
·T-Mobile US

Re: Eh, I actually agree with Comcast if two independent

So far, my only real lightning damage in South Florida, occurred a few months ago.

I connected an extension cord to a sail boat at my dock. What did me in, where I plugged in the extension cord, a GFI'd outlet on side of house. If I had used my normal (230v-60amp) dock service. I would have been probably ok, but that was not in the cards. (I didn't have the expensive marine adapter needed to breakout to a GFI'd/current limited 110v circuit).

About six months ago the sail boat took a direct hit. Lightning vaporized a 3ft antenna on the top of the main mast. Most of the energy dissipated out the keel into the salt water canal.

Inside the sailboat, the energy found some other paths.. it took out a battery charger and a timer. (maybe more)..

Inside my house, lost my PCIx, (enet, sd card slot, and wireless), based devices in my new AMD K8-laptop, and a single port on my 16 port enet switch.

Note: I a have lots of distributed surge suppressors(including whole house), multiple ground rods, heavy duty ground bonding.. but even that is not enough to compensate for my kludge.

Lesson Learned.. Sailboat now maintains it batteries using a small solar panel I picked up at a garage sale.

jmn1207
Premium
join:2000-07-19
Ashburn, VA
kudos:1

New Feature

Maybe this is a new feature that Comcast provides to compete with DirecTV?

Perhaps she was watching a movie with an explosion scene?

»www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjK-0dhdIg0

tshirt
Premium
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:5
Reviews:
·Comcast

Re: New Feature

maybe the cat hair built up to explosive levels. purrhaps it was static build up from heavy petting

»youtu.be/hIkNY5xjy5k

telcodad
Premium
join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
kudos:15

Re: New Feature

Could it have been a very old Motorola box that just overloaded once the new A30 version of iGuide was downloaded to it?

Metatron2008
Premium
join:2008-09-02
united state

1 recommendation

Buy the new and improved Comcast!!

WE NO LONGER EMPLOY CONTRACTORS THAT BLOW UP YOUR HOUSE OR BURN THINGS DOWN! NOW OUR CABLE BOXES DO ALL THE WORK NECESSARY TO GIVE OUR CUSTOMERS THE CUSTOMER SERVICE THEY EXPECT!

*Service not available in all areas, esp. if you have fios or any real competition. If you have at&t, well, some exploding cable boxes is still better right?
big_e

join:2011-03-05

Perhaps the TV blew up the box.

That TV looks pretty old, 80's vintage. Usually there are safety capacitors to isolate the AV/Coax grounds from the chassis ground, but should one of the caps go bad and short a set with hot chassis there will be fireworks.

S1R1US

join:2002-08-25
Clearwater, FL

Unfortunate

I think the unfortunate reality here is it just made sense for Comcast to 'quiet the issue' and pay for the replacement hardware when in fact there is a much greater chance the problem was actually on the customer's end. In fact some could suggest the electrical wiring in the customer's home damaged our equipment and therefore they would be responsible for replacement of our hardware. We of course know that's not the case and service providers have insurance for a reason which protects customers and the provider. Either way, Comcast did right by the customer and just took care of it themselves.
fiberguy
My views are my own.
Premium
join:2005-05-20
kudos:3

Re: Unfortunate

I disagree 100% with you on this.. There are MANY factors that could have cause this damage. If the cable was installed according to NEC standards, then that rules out the actual cable. That leaves still quite a few items that can cause "damage" to any piece of networked equipment. Who's to say that it didn't happen in reverse and that the TV didn't hurt the box? or that the power company didn't cause the problem? etc? ... the reason why a company, such as Comcast, has to be careful in just rushing in to "do the right thing" is because "doing the right thing" sets a standard for every other "the cable box caused my problem" down the road. Quite honestly, from the story, this lady felt that the response time of 2 days was not good enough... so long as they responded with in the guides set for them then I am fine with their response. I have personally rolled on many calls similar this in my time and in all buy 1 case (a bad ground) the problem was at the fault inside the home and had nothing to do with the cable service in any way.

In general, this is how the blame game works:

If you're at a laundromat and your clothes fall apart, it must be the washer or dryer, not your 10 year old shirt.

If you're at a car wash and there's a scratch in your car, it's the washes fault, not the fact that you don't wash your car but once every 6 months and when the dirt was finally cleaned off you noticed that scratch.. and no matter if it's already got rust in the scratch, it's still the washes fault because they washed it.

If you ate out at a restaurant with a group of friends and the next morning you got sick, it's the restaurant's fault, even though the other 5 people didn't get sick (1 have even eating the same thing as you) and the fact you were already getting sick prior, it's still the restaurant's fault.

And if your TV has an issue or "explodes", even though you have power connected to it, a power strip, DVD Player, amp, game box, or any other number of devices, it's always the cable box or cable company at fault.. it has nothing to do with your older than dirt TV or any other piece of equipment.

I'm not defending comcast on this one and neither should anyone else because no one knows what happened here. But, the instant "blame the big guy" mentality gets no one anywhere and I also don't believe that Comcast should just pay-up just because it's "the right thing to do.. try that with the power company, people will often NEVER get anything out of them. IF the box failed, which is what is being said here, that doesn't make it "Comcast's fault".. it CAN mean that something they owned failed and it caused respective damage.. but like any piece of electronics, they're prone to fail. Motorola made the box, not comcast.

And for the above guy that said opening the box voids the warranty.. that doesn't stand here.. a warranty doesn't have anything to do with negligence which is, if at hand, what's important here. Comcast, I believe, stepped up and took care of their customer, but that's as far as I'll agree with anyone here.

S1R1US

join:2002-08-25
Clearwater, FL

Re: Unfortunate

I agree there are many factors, but I think the automatic assumption for most is that the provider is immediately at fault. I really don't believe many customers will be like 'hey can you check to see if the fault could have been on my end?' The upset and aggressive attitude will most often happen the very moment we call our provider and talk with the first person we hear from. Simply the fact that the article references the person being unhappy with having to 'wait 2 days' suggests there was already some initial assumptions.

You're dead on about expectations. The moment you set the precedence of hardly even verifying the cause, you are almost accepting fault even if it isn't. I wonder if the reason this is done is because without actually proving it, nobody can definitively say for sure that it was the providers fault. By accepting responsibility it's like taking the high road along with removing the ability to uncover the truth. Or, maybe the costs to hire an independent person to evaluate the situation simply aren't worth the possible outcome if it actually being the providers fault plus making it a long process for the customer.

Haha great analogies. All very fitting.
marinemaster

join:2004-04-12
Suwanee, GA

in all seriousness....

ill check the grounding on my cable tv this weekend. house is 7 years old now, so need to makes sure is all grounded properly.
mjh2901

join:2001-08-02
Livermore, CA

When this happens

When something this rare and wacky happens why do companies like Comcast fight it. The rep on site should have the authorization to to replace the TV (like up to $500) and the box, just so they can grab the old TV and Box to prevent anyone else from testing or monkeying with it. Over a year how many times does this happen on their plant? Not enough to risk the bad publicity.