Jeremy Beach lost his home in Black Forest, Colo., Tuesday after a devastating wildfire destroyed his, and more than 370 other houses, in the most destructive fire in the state's history.
After all Beach has been through though, it isn't the fire that's left him feeling burned -- it's the cable company. Beach called and canceled other utilities and services for his now nonexistent home without incident, he told The Gazette. But when he spoke with DirecTV, the television provider informed him he would have to pay $400 for equipment destroyed by the fire.
"I couldn't believe it," Beach told the paper Thursday. "I had lost everything and they acted like they could care less." Beach, who has a 5-year-old son and a wife, currently pregnant with twins, added, "I need that money to rebuild my life ... a couple hundred dollars is nothing to them but a lot to me."
Reached for comment by The Huffington Post, a DirecTV spokesman said their agent had been misinformed, stating, "The agent who spoke with Mr. Beach was wrong, and we have contacted the customer to apologize and assure him and his family that we will do everything we can to help them through this difficult time."
The spokesman continued:
DIRECTV has a clear policy that fully supports its customers during natural disasters that includes replacement of damaged equipment at no charge, long-term suspension of accounts for customers who must leave their home, and waiving cancellation fees for those who need to disconnect service.
Despite the statement, however, the company appears to have engaged in this type of activity in the past.
In June 2012, after the Waldo Canyon fire near Colorado Springs destroyed 347 homes, KDVR reports DirecTV billed customers in the destroyed subdivision. Other companies, including the Pikes Peak Library District, Comcast and CenturyLink wrote off the losses.
And in 2009, after a wildfire near Los Angeles destroyed more than 70 structures, the company also billed customers for their toasted electronics. After an inquiry by the L.A. Times, DirecTV labeled the incident "a regrettable mistake," made in part because the customers hadn't been flagged "for special handling."
One particularly incensed customer told the paper he'd happily return the company's equipment -- in the form of "a shovel full of ashes from [his] cabin ... dump[ed] on their desk."
Writes Hannah Boggs in response on the satellite provider's Facebook page, "There is your 'helpful' policy. Equipment - For customers whose equipment was damaged in the storm, we offer to waive equipment replacement costs if they continue their DIRECTV service. HOW THE H*LL ARE THEY GOING TO CONTINUE SERVICE WITHOUT A HOUSE!!!!"