Ask Amy: Can alarm companies charge cancellation fees for flood-ravaged, unlivable homes?

By Amy Davis - Reporter/Consumer Expert
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Home security alarms

Floodwaters forced thousands of Houston-area residents from their homes. Many won't be able to return for months. Some victims called consumer expert Amy Davis when they said businesses were trying to charge them to cancel services they won't need while they're displaced.

About 22 inches of water filled Russell Morgan's Sagemont home from tropical storm Harvey. Since he can't live in the home until he gets it repaired, he called to suspend his cable and internet services. He said those providers gave him no problems. When he called to suspend his AT&T Digital Life Home alarm service, however, several customer service representatives told him he can not. They told him if he cancels his service, he'll have to pay an early termination fee. Morgan is not alone in this situation. We have heard from several AT&T Digital Life customers in the same boat.

Davis called AT&T about the issue. AT&T spokesperson Carlos Ramirez said they are fixing Morgan's account and other consumers we have passed along. He also emailed this statement:

"Digital Life customers who have been displaced by Hurricane Harvey can contact AT&T to request a credit for up to 90 days and can request additional credits if their home is still being repaired beyond this time frame. We encourage customers calling our customer service line to request service credits, rather than for the service to be suspended.  If customers request to cancel their service because they have been permanently displaced, we will be waiving their early termination fees."

Davis checked the terms of service for Digital Life. There is no mention of what happens to your contract if you are no longer living in your home. If you have to suspend or cancel your service, keep records of who you speak with about those service credits. If you are charged down the road, you will have all of the evidence about who suspended your service and when.

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