5 On Your Side

Woman Fried Over Utility's Reimbursement For Zapped Appliances

Posted August 8, 2006 5:00 a.m. EDT
Updated November 10, 2006 9:29 a.m. EST

— A recent power surge zapped a number of appliances and electronics in Ria Murakeozy's home, including four televisions, a stereo, a Playstation, a laptop computer, a microwave oven and a dryer.

When Progress Energy appeared unwilling to reimburse her for the damage, Murakeozy turned to 5 On Your Side for help.

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Power Surges, Protection

Murakeozy said she first noticed a problem when the lights in her home suddenly got very bright and her refrigerator got extremely loud.

"You could hear the compressor just roaring," she said, adding that she then noticed smoke coming from her 35-inch TV. "Smoke was billowing out ... (and) the whole area here was filled with smoke."

Murakeozy shut off the circuit breaker and called Progress Energy and the Cary Fire Department.

A fire department report blamed a Progress Energy line that "burned off at the power pole."

When Murakeozy called the utility to file a claim, she said an adjuster told her Progress Energy doesn't replace damaged electronics and appliances. Rather, she said she was told, adjusters calculate an unspecific, depreciated value for them.

"He said, 'When you go get something, fax me the receipts, and then we'll talk about what the amount should be,'" she said. "I'm just afraid you'll send him $7,000 worth of receipts and he'll want to settle for $3,000. The point is we don't really know."

Murakeozy said she felt that process was too risky, so she called 5 On Your Side to get the negotiations restarted.

Progress Energy spokeswoman Tanya Evans said the utility would never expect a customer to buy everything up front. She apologized for what she termed "a misunderstanding" and said the utility is now waiting for Murakeozy to send a list of damages and to schedule an onsite visit.

Evans said she believes conversation with Murakeozy stopped because "no one wants to hear 'depreciation.'" But she said that reimbursing a discounted amount is "only fair" to the company and the customer.

Murakeozy said she's still waiting to see what the depreciated amount will be before determining how fair the transaction is.

"I would just like to have my house back to what it was," she said.