BLACK FORREST, Colo. — On Tuesday, Jeremy Beach lost his house to the Black Forrest Fire, leaving him with few tangible possessions. No longer the owner of a home, Beach began to reach out to various utility companies to cancel his services.
The companies were sympathetic to Beach’s loss — all except for DirecTV.
Beach told FOX31 Denver that DirectTV informed him he owed $400 for a satellite dish and two receivers destroyed in Tuesday’s fire.
Beach said he was shocked by the lack for empathy from DirecTV, stating “I had lost everything and they acted like they could care less.”
After a slew of negative backlash via social media Friday morning, DirecTV issued the following statement, saying the agent who told Beach that he would have to pay for his destroyed satellite dish was “wrong.”
“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 statement read. “DirecTV has a clear policy that fully supports its customers during natural disasters that includes replacement of damaged equipment at no charge, long-term suspensions of accounts for customers who must leave their home and waiving cancellation fees for those who need to disconnect service.”
Confusion about the story exploded after an initial report by the Colorado Springs Gazette, which discussed the satellite television company’s reportedly inconsistent dealings with customers who lost their homes to the Waldo Canyon Fire. According to the Gazette, DirecTV customers in the Mountain Shadows neighborhood were billed for company property that was damaged or destroyed in a blaze that consumed 347 homes.
Meanwhile, other companies like Pikes Peak Library District, Comcast and CenturyLink, wrote off their losses from the Waldo Canyon Fire, telling victims not to worry about any destroyed equipment.
A DirecTV spokeswoman justified the charges after the Waldo Canyon Fire by saying customers’ insurance companies should cover the charges for the damaged equipment.
Beach said he received the same explanation from an apparently mistaken DirecTV agent this week. To no initial avail, he told tried to explain that $400 is a minimal amount that may not be covered by an insurance company, but could mean a lot to a family who just lost everything.
“I need that money to rebuild my life,” said Beach, who survived the fire with his 5-year-old son, two dogs and pregnant wife.