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Even If Your House Burns Down, It's Tough to Cancel Comcast [UPDATE]

A St. Paul man struggled for a week to cancel Comcast service after his house burned down

A St. Paul man struggled for a week to cancel Comcast service after his house burned down

UPDATE 4/8 12:30 PM -- Comment from Comcast included below

Jimmy Ware, a 66-year-old retired truck driver, lost everything when his house in St. Paul's North End burned down last Wednesday.

According to the Pioneer Press, he was sitting at Hoovers Pub having a beer when he heard the news.

See also: Comcast Is Terrible, Part 5,467

"Driving up, I seen smoke and said, 'I hope that's not mine,'" he told a reporter. "And sure as [expletive], it was. Lost my checkbook. Lost everything."

His daughter Jessica Schmidt has been helping him get his life back together after the fire. She reached out to the paper yesterday with another bit of terrible, but not entirely surprising news: After "four or five phone calls" she was still struggling with inept Comcast customer service to cancel Ware's account.

When they first called the day after the fire, Schmidt says a customer service rep told them the account's security code was needed, but Ware never set one up. From there, let's go down the rabbit hole, via the Pioneer Press:

The Comcast representative suggested Schmidt bring Ware to a Comcast office, where he could cancel his service in person and return his cable equipment.

"You're kidding, right?," Schmidt said she asked about the equipment.

"Oh yeah, you said there was a fire," Schmidt recalled of what the representative told her. Schmidt was also told Ware would continue to be charged $140 a month for cable, as well as the cost for the equipment.

"I laughed and said, 'I will dig the equipment out of the burned rubble and bring it back to you if you're going to charge me,'" Schmidt said. "Unfortunately, I couldn't find it. I did look." The city razed the house and the one next door on Friday for safety reasons.

On Tuesday -- now Day 6 of trying to cancel service -- customer service supervisors told her she still couldn't disconnect because she wasn't authorized on Ware's account. Exasperated, Schmidt took her story to the newspaper.

An hour after a reporter called Comcast for comment, Schmidt got a call from Comcast corporate. Guess what? Ware's service had been canceled and backdated to last week's fire, no problem.

"We certainly understand it's a difficult time for Mr. Ware and we certainly apologize for the inconvenience he had to go through, along with his daughter, but we have safeguards in place to protect our customers, and we have to follow those," says Comcast spokesperson Mary Beth Schubert.

Schmidt couldn't make changes to her father's account because she wasn't an authorized user. If your house does burn down, God forbid, the best way to handle cancelling service seems to be to just go to a Comcast store and explain the situation in person.

Ware's neighbor's house burned down in the fire too, and they say cancelling service was easy and hassle-free when they drove over to Comcast's Highland Park office.

Online donations for Ware are being accepted at a GoFundMe page, and a benefit is planned at Tin Cups, June 20 from 1-6 p.m.

Send news tips to Ben Johnson.