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ISPs Still Not Good at Handling Disaster Victims
HughesNet Rep Wants Burned Satellite Dish Back or Else
by Karl Bode 08:50AM Wednesday Oct 26 2011 Tipped by poolek See Profile
Over the years we've seen several ISPs take heat for pushing disaster victims a little too hard, when the victims very last thoughts are on the replacement costs of a DVR. AT&T took some heat a few years ago for demanding forest fire victims immediately pony up $300 for a lost cable box. CableOne also found little sympathy recently when they informed apartment fire victims "they'd been hurt too." Charter reps recently told tornado victims they needed to "look around the neighborhood" for their cable boxes or pay $212 immediately. HughesNet is the latest, a rep immediately demanding the return of gear from Austin-area wildfire victims:
"She wanted me to send back the equipment — the dish, the cable and modem. When I asked her what part of me saying that our house burned to the ground that she didn't understand, she insisted I return their equipment. If we didn't, she said we owed $100," Linda Schutt said.

The Schutts temporarily put aside dealing with HughesNet. They'd lost everything in the Sept. 5 fire, including the American flag that was used on the casket of Linda Schutt's brother after he was killed in the Vietnam War.

The week after the fire, she wrote HughesNet a letter complaining about the service and saying she'd never use the company again. "I included the burned satellite dish because that's all that we found. It wasn't any good, but since they insisted they wanted their equipment, we sent what we could find," she said. On Saturday, Linda Schutt got a call from someone who she thought was a HughesNet representative. "I thought he was calling about my letter, but I later found out it was a bill-collecting agency," she said.
While it's understandable that a company wants to recoup their losses, most support reps cling too tightly to scripts and winding up pushing too hard, too quickly. Once escalated, ISPs often cut disaster victims some slack and insurance does their jobs, but the initial carrier handling of victims continues to need some work.

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Go Colts
Fort Wayne, IN

4 recommendations

reply to wings10

Re: Homeowner's insurance

said by wings10:

Also send a photo of the lot where your home once stood to the service provider. Saying "Go find it."

Just expect a letter back saying "We don't have to. It's your problem, not ours."

The correct way to handle it would be:
1. Express sympathy for the loss
2. Suspend/close the account as applicable
3. Mention that equipment was still provider's property and to include cost in insurance claim.
4. Offer to provide documentation if needed
5. Wait for the claim to get process, only escalating if nothing happens after X number of days.