5 On Your Side

Power Company Pops for New Appliances Fried by Mystery Surge

Posted February 20, 2007

— A TiVo, a computer, a DVD player, a cordless phone and even an oven—Chris Johnson says none of it works. He says they did work before Time Warner repairman came to his house in Fuquay-Varina last month.

Johnson scheduled the visit because his Time Warner phone, cable television, and Internet access had stopped working.

While the repairman worked outside, Johnson was inside.

“I'm sitting on the couch here, reading a book, and this light starts flicking and ‘pop, pop, pop, pop’—and the cable box, which was actually sitting where this new one is that they gave me right now, smoke was coming out of that one and smoke was coming out of the TV” Johnson said.

Johnson went outside and got the repairman.

“He pulled out the cable box, and he looks at it and you can smell the smoke where it's fried. And he plugged it in again and he said, ‘It's fried. It's not gonna work’” Johnson said.

Johnson said his electronics didn't work either.

A supervisor came out. So did an electrician, who said there was nothing electrically wrong with Johnson's home.

Johnson has a surge protector on his electric meter, so he called Progress Energy. He says a representative told him that because of the protector, the surge didn't come through the meter.

TWC replaced its grounding wire and the cable box.

Johnson claims the company offered to reimburse him for the electronics and even told him to check prices. When he followed up, however, he was told the company wasn’t responsible.

“I said, ‘I'm not trying to get rich. I just want to get back to living the way I lived,’” he said.

So, 5 On Your Side called Time Warner and Progress Energy.

Time Warner spokesman Brad Phillips tells us he "cannot find any cable-related activity that caused Mr. Johnson's electrical problems."

Progress Energy said that since the company couldn't rule itself out and knows Johnson is not to blame, they would replace his damaged electronics. Progress Energy sent Johnson a check for more than $1,700

After all this, Johnson bought wall-mounted surge protectors from Progress Energy. That way, if a future surge comes through either an outlet or the cable line, his gear will be protected.

After our calls, the power company went back to Johnson's house and found a potential surge problem with Time Warner's new grounding cable. Time Warner promised to check it.

The bottom line, this incident shows the importance of having several layers of surge protection.

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  • msheller Feb 27, 2007

    mchlpickle...you're absolutely correct! My point was; we sit on the sidelines and cast blame based on a news report! We weren't there, have few of the facts, but still choose to castigate a company without "really knowing" the true nature of the entire events. We do this based on a preconceived bias towards whatever or whomever we're complaining about. Human nature I guess.

  • mchlpickle Feb 26, 2007

    msheller you must remember these people hired on to do a job. I'm quiet sure they were told they would have to work during these times when they were hired on.We all I'm sure are quiet thankful to these workers for doing their jobs but they have to take the good with the bad.

  • msheller Feb 26, 2007

    I love how the majority of you choose to bitch about TWC in this regard(power issue)when you have absolutley no clue. Maybe you should blame the shoddy home building practices. You think for a minute there's not problems related to a home being built in 2 weeks? Since the majority of homes in Wake County have been built by the lowest bidder in the last 10-20 years, I'm surprised more of this hasn't occurred! Yeah, I know. Blame everything on the low-life utility workers who risk their lives during major storms to restore your power, cable and telephone service. It's always their fault that the backhoe operator cut your lines a mile from the house. It's their fault that mother nature ripped down all the distribution lines. It's their fault that the $9 per hour electricians helper, or his supervisor didn't do his job properly. Oh, that's right. I forgot! Utility workers are suppossed to be God-like and can never make a mistake. PE knew more likely than not, it was their problem.

  • cal Feb 25, 2007

    You bet?????? How much you want to bet. Do you think progress energy is incompetent enough not to look for that before they admit guilt????? That would be a little too obvious fella. Learn how to spell also.

  • futbalfantic Feb 25, 2007

    I bet the repairman was incompatent and drilled into the way to install something and hit some wires to short the house

  • StopComplainingSoMuch Feb 25, 2007

    I've had TWC for years now and have very few problems. When I do have problems or request upgrades they're servicemen are ALWAYS on time. Twice in the last year they've even called and asked to come out EARLY! Great service / product TWC! Keep it up!

  • North Carolina Native Feb 25, 2007

    we have had both twc and a sattelite dish. TW is by far a better product. But too bad we've had to call them out here at LEAST once a month due to our phone going out for no reason or our computer pinging out. They always blame it on the last guy who came out.

  • Newshound Feb 24, 2007

    the only problem i have had with twc is trying to either get connected or adding service that requires me to be home. I dont care what excuses are given to me when i am told to be here between 9:00 am and 12:00 and they never show up and dont call to say they arent coming. 20$ is hardly compensation for that sort of customer service. to get my cable installed they missed 4 different appointments all during the week. My boss wasnt very happy with me telling him i had to be late for work to meet the cable guy 5 different days. Subcontractors still represent TWC and are not accepted by me as valid reasons i was inconvienced.

  • cal Feb 24, 2007

    Everything fries because the gd power company or electrician that wired the house did something wrong. I see it every f@#@#ing day. DUH. You moron.

  • ArkAngels Feb 24, 2007

    I have had TW for years and the bills are paid on time... TW DOES move the channels around on the digital service with no notice. Our digital cable service is also known to have "lapses" in service in the middle of the night and do you think they answer at 2am? Not.

    Our cable lines are run over head and about a year ago, our power company begged TW to come raise the lines because they were sagging and TW never would come. But a truck came down our road one day and snagged the cable lines and took it down for TW. It took them 4 days to get out here to restring those lines.

    A salesman with TW called me not too long ago to try and talk me into their 'combined service'. I stopped him cold and said, "before you get started, let me put it to you like this... If you GAVE me the services for FREE I would not accept them." He asked why and I explained they had a hard enough time keeping the cable up 24/7, why would I want to trust them with everything? Embarq does just fine.