Burned Up Over a Smoking Cable Box

NBC 7 Responds helps a Clairemont couple with a bill over a burnt up cable box.

In October of last year, Virginia Hinkle thought she smelled smoke in her Clairemont Mesa home.

“So one day I smelled something burning and I went out in the kitchen and I sniffed around,” said Hinkle. “I zeroed in on it and there was smoke rising from the cable receiver box.”

Hinkle said it looked like a plume of cigarette smoke coming from the back of the box. She acted fast and unplugged the box from the outlet.

Next thing she did was get on the phone with her cable, phone, and internet provider, AT&T.

“I said what do I do with the old one,” Hinkle asked the representative. “He said, ‘throw it away.’”

So, that’s what Hinkle said she did.

Three days later Hinkle said her new cable box arrived in the mail. With it were instructions on what to do with the old one.

“It said, here are the instructions for returning your old receiver to avoid being charged $150,” said Hinkle.

Hinkle said she got right back on the phone with AT&T. Hinkle told the representative that she was told to throw the box away.

“I explained this to customer service and they said, ‘no, no, that would not have happened,” said Hinkle.

Despite the break in communication, Hinkle said the representative told her she would not be responsible for the $150 disposal fee.

That was in November of 2018. The following month, Hinkle said she got a bill in the mail. On it, was a $150 charge.

Hinkle said she went right to the phone...again.

“They said don’t worry about it, don’t pay it, the credit will show up on the next bill.”

Hinkle followed the representative’s instructions. But in January another bill came. On that bill Hinkle said the company charged her a late fee on top of the $150.

She said called a third time. A representative told her everything would be taken care of.

Not long after another bill arrived. It read:

“If this is not paid by January 28th, we will suspend your service,” said Hinkle.

That’s when Virginia and her husband Phil decided to switch things up a bit.

“Phil said to me, call Consumer Bob.”

They did. Our team got right on it that same day.

“One hour after that email, I get a phone call from AT&T,” said Hinkle. “I don’t know what the magic is...but you resolved something in one hour that I wasn’t able to do for three months.”

In a statement, a spokesperson from AT&T wrote, “We've been in touch with the customer and resolved the issue. We apologized to her for the inconvenience."

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