Troubleshooter: Fire, early cancellation fee

CUMBERLAND COUNTY A fire ripped through Teri Ward's home last month. Everyone was able to get out safely, but they lost everything.

"It's all gone, everything is gone," she said.

The family's home was totally destroyed and they had no homeowners insurance to rebuild.

After the fire, Ward canceled all their services, including their satellite service with DIRECTV. But it was that cancellation that left them with a big bill.

"I called them and told them we had to cancel the service because of the fire, and they said, 'we'll you're breaking the contract' and I said, 'we just lost everything we had in the fire,' and I said 'we can't have TV service, because we don't have any TV's' and they didn't care," Ward said.

Besides the early termination fee, there were other costs.

"They also told me since we can't send them the equipment back to them, there was going to be a charge for that too," Ward said. "I told them I can't send anything because it's all melted and messed up and they didn't care, you had to pay for that too."

Ward says she then waited for a bill, but instead DIRECTV drafted close to $350 for the early cancellation fee from their bank account.

"I didn't think they had the authority without getting someone's consent," she said. "We didn't even know they were going to take it out, they just took it out."

With that much money gone, Ward says it only added to their stress.

"This is actually the last thing I thought we would have to deal with," she said. "That was depressing, because to me all they cared about was getting their money."

Ward's family then got ABC11 Eyewitness News I-Team Troubleshooter Diane Wilson involved, who reached out to DIRECTV.

Right away, Ward says she heard from DIRECTV and the money for the early cancellation fee was put back into her account.

"I'm relieved," she said. "It helped because they told me there was nothing they could do, we were responsible for everything."

DIRECTV waived the Ward's early cancellation fee and also did not charge them for the not being able to return their equipment.

A representative with the company issued a statement that read, "We review difficult circumstances like those experienced by Jeffrey and Teri on a case-by-case basis and will often step outside the rules to help the customer recover. Our agents were following the rules when they should have used reason, and we apologize to Jeffrey and Teri for making a bad situation worse by not handling this with more compassion."

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