Tornado Victims Billed for Cable Damage

WHEATLAND, Wis. (AP) -- Having a tornado demolish her home was bad enough. But weeks later when Ann Beam received a $2,000 cable bill for destroyed equipment, she was floored.

"I just couldn't believe it," Beam said. "I was like, 'What are they thinking?'"

Time Warner Cable billed a number of Wheatland residents for equipment damaged in the Jan. 7 twister. Beam's bill covered five cable boxes and five remote controls.

She immediately called the cable company, but a man who identified himself as a manager said there was nothing the company could do.

"They said I would have to take the bill and turn it in to my insurance company," Beam told the Kenosha News for a story on the paper's Web site Thursday.

But her cable equipment was nine years old, and the insurance company would pay only a depreciated value, she said.

Beam's case was simply a misunderstanding, Time Warner Cable spokeswoman Celeste Flynn said. Some customers were charged for unreturned equipment, but only because they canceled or transferred their service without mentioning the tornado, she said.

"We understand this is an unusual situation," Flynn said. "All they will need to do is call, and we will take the equipment off their account."

The rare winter tornadoes destroyed more than two dozen homes and damaged nearly 80 others in Kenosha County.

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