A fire destroyed a 66-year-old man's house in Minnesota and everything in it, including the TVs, but his cable service? He couldn't get it canceled.
Jimmy Ware lost all his possessions in the wind-whipped fire in St. Paul's North End on April 1. Since then, his daughter said, she had been calling Comcast but was unable to cut off his service until Tuesday, when the company did so and issued an apology.
When Jessica Schmidt had called Comcast for her father, customer service representatives asked for Ware's account number, saying they needed that to cancel his cable.
"Gone in the fire," Schmidt told them. Ware got on the line and provided the last four digits of his Social Security number, which Comcast told him was still not enough.
Schmidt grew increasingly frustrated because she wanted to focus on helping her father with more serious matters, such as where as he's going to live or how he's going to rebuild his life. The retired trucker had no homeowners' insurance.
"I've said to Comcast, 'Here's your choice, disconnect the service or send someone out to fix the cable, because it's not working,' " Schmidt said. "The (Comcast) guy said, 'That doesn't make sense, because the house burned down.' I said, 'Exactly, shut the service off.' "
After Schmidt said she called Comcast four or five times, she heard from the company's corporate office Tuesday.
A representative said the matter hadn't been handled properly, that Ware's cable service had been canceled -- backdated to the fire -- and he wouldn't be charged for the cable equipment, Schmidt said.
Comcast spokeswoman Mary Beth Schubert said in a statement Tuesday: "We understand that this is a difficult time for Mr. Ware and apologize for the inconvenience. Comcast has safeguards in place to protect the privacy of our customers, including not allowing unauthorized users to make changes to a customer's account.
"We do provide the option for customers to designate others, such as family members, to make authorized account changes and verifying an account can normally be done either over the phone or in person with a driver's license," the statement continued. "We will continue to stay in contact with Mr. Ware to make certain the issue has been resolved to his satisfaction."