Cable company's responsibility regarding lightning? - AVS Forum
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Old 08-30-2007, 06:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Has anyone here had experience filing a lightning damage claim against your cable company?

We had a lightning storm come thru last night at every piece of equipment connected to a CABLE BOX in my house was damaged.

I have 5 TV's but only 2 are use digital cable boxes. All the rest of the TV's that are connected directly to the cable -- NOT thu a box -- are fine.

To further complicate things, it appears the last time Comcast was at my house for a service call (to install a signal amplifier) the technician bypassed the CATV inputs on my Panamax surge suppressor to plug the cable into this amplifier. I was unaware of this... until last night.

The sum total of my damage is one standard digital cable box, one 32" television, one HD digital cable box and a Rotel home theater pre/pro (that was in the chain between the cable box and the projector).

Any advice or past experiences would be appreciated.

-- Gregg
 

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Old 08-30-2007, 07:39 AM
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I guess every cable Co has their own policy, but a co-worker tried to get reimbursed for lightning damage to his AV equipment from Cablevision here on Long Island. He was told- basically anything inside your house is your responsibility. The only thing Cablevision would cover was their leased set top boxes.
He had to file a claim on his homeowners policy for reimbursement.

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Old 08-30-2007, 07:49 AM
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As long as their service was installed in accordance with the NEC (code), they are not responsible for lightning damaged equipment.

CIAO!

Ed N.
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Old 08-30-2007, 07:57 AM
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Actually, your TV probably killed their box and your other equipment.
(My background - 35 years in TV repair)
Point 1: Storm damage tends to hit one leg of your AC line but not the other (half the outlets in your house).
Point 2: The newer the set, the more easily damaged. (switching power supplies).
Point 3: Damage occurs in a flow pattern. (in one place out another)
Point 4: The TV is the only hgh current device in the damage path. Low current devices tend to receive damage, not inflict damage.
Point 5: A TV has a two wire plug and uses the tuner shield connector in place of a ground wire. (the RCA jacks are also connected to the coax shield) Most new TVs even have a spark gap on the AC input with a wire that connects to the tuner case. A short in/through the TV outputs through the antenna/cable/RCA connectors, unlike your PJ that probably has a three wire plug.

Lightning or a power surge probably hit one device and the flow pattern passed back through the other devices, damaging them in the process. Due to their design, TVs are the most easily damaged devices that you probably own. Due to their lack of a three wire grounded cord (to minimize ground loop interference) a single TV set failing can damage every device connected to the entire A/V system. The three wire plug on the PJ provides another ground return path for your equipment.

Examining the specific damage to each device would give clues as to the source but it was probably the TV first. The damage then sought a ground return through the Boxes and PrePro to cable coax ground and PJ power line ground. Time to contact your insurance agent and check deductables.

For example, I am currently working on a 7.1 amp. The ground trace burned from the audio input jacks, indicates that the device connected to the input failed, passed to the A/V switch IC, shorting it, passing through to the 7 volt reg ICs, shorting them. Here the damage indicates that the TV shorted and took out the Amp. In your case, all damaged devices would need to be examined to determine the source, but historically the TV is responsible 90+% of the time.

Sturgeon's Law: "Nothing is always absolutely so."
Sturgeons Revelation: "Ninety percent of everything is crud."
My Thoughts: "A reasoned argument must share some basic common points."
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Old 08-30-2007, 06:07 PM
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An additional note: If the cable was ungrounded after they disconnected it from the Panamax, then the damage return path from a TV failure could have changed from the intended Cable Coax ground, (which would have still taken out a cable box) to a path through the PrePro to the PJ ground wire on it's AC cord.

It would take some sleuthing to pin down the exact type of damage to each device and the path of damage, but my money would be on the TV failing first.

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Old 09-01-2007, 07:03 PM
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well, you kinda pointed out 2 good things i think.

First, (even tho this doesnt happen like this, it happens thru the AC lines but anyway) if u are blaming the cable lines for the "damaging surge" then all 5 TV's would be out not just the 2 with boxes.

Second, no matter what kind of surge protector you have... NOTHING will stop a mutli-billion volt lightning strike.

i'm a cable tech, and just the past 3 day's i've been on quite a few calls for lightning strikes, and usually, IF AND WHEN it enters a cable line... it burns the connectors or completely melts the cable itself

I run into this quite often. only thing you can do is call ur home insurance company... satellite, cable, telephone, u'll never get anything from any provider b/c of lightning... even the power company (which is the culprit usually)
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Old 09-09-2007, 08:18 PM
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also as a side note, most cable boxes cannot function properly when they are fed through a surge protector, it generally kilsse the return signal coming from the box back to the cable co. that may also be why it was disconnected

T. Klotz
TWC I/R Tecnician, NEO Division
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Old 09-10-2007, 07:58 PM
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even if the electricity did come through your cable line, why on earth would you think the cableco deserves to pay for it? they don't control lightning! god! why do they deserve to pay for your equipment which was damaged by a natural phenomenon? get insurance!

you bloodsuckers amaze me!
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Old 09-10-2007, 09:42 PM
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I'll do a little mind reading here.
I suspect the OP is wondering if the cableco, in disconnecting the cable from the Panamax, allowed damage to occur that would have been prevented had the cable still been running through the suspressor/stablizer. If the cable was the source of damage, then this reasoning would indicate that they had some liability because they bypassed a protective device. (without providing a suitable alternative or even a warning) This is a reasonable conjecture and was worth exploring. It may still be worth approaching the cableco with that argument, just to see what their response is.

Historically, cable is usually not the source, but a return path. Examination of each damaged device would be required to determine the path and direction of damage.

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Sturgeons Revelation: "Ninety percent of everything is crud."
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Old 09-11-2007, 07:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Blankfaze, lighten up my brother.

Zaphod, thank you. You are correct. My initial post was leading up to making a claim with the cable company to ask them to investigate *if* the coax was the infiltration point. *If* it was, then I might have tried to pursue some sort of contributory negligence on their part for having literally cut my suppressor out of the path (two stubs of cut coax were hanging from the suppressor) and not informing me. As aparis99 points out that no suppressor can stop a "multi-billion volt" lightning strike, however, the suppressor did come with a $50,000 lifetime damage policy that I *could* have then made a claim against.

But, after reading your initial post, I suspect that you are correct and that the strike came in thru the AC, travelled across the analog audio jacks since the pre/pro and TV don't have a ground, and then left via the coax. I guess the cable boxes were the common victims rather than the common cause.

The cable company replaced both cable boxes without hesitation. Since the insurance company would only compensate me for the current (no pun intended) value of the damaged equipment and not replacement value, after subtracting my deductable the amount was too small to justify going thru with a claim. I'm sending the pre/pro back to Rotel on the hope that the damage is very localized and can be repaired.

Thanks for your help. Your analysis and explanation saved me a lot of time.

-- Gregg
 

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Old 09-11-2007, 07:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaddScientist View Post

also as a side note, most cable boxes cannot function properly when they are fed through a surge protector, it generally kilsse the return signal coming from the box back to the cable co. that may also be why it was disconnected

I think that depends more on the particular surge protector box than on the cable box. I am running the cable through an APC S-15 before the HD cable box and it works flawlessly.

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http://www.stereophile.com/category/music-round

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Old 09-11-2007, 09:01 PM
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If you can find a reasonable servicer, you might not want to write the TV off yet. Typical storm damage is around $100 on a modern set, possibly less. There are a number of designs in a TV that can allow an arc accross a spark gap to the coax, bypassing the TV's circuitry, blowing a fuse, and passing the damage on to the next device in line. There is also an MOV in many sets that can fail, preventing further damage. I just fixed one like that last week.

If the TV is less than about 8 years old (and brand makes a big difference too), you might want to have it looked at.
(you didn't mention whether you had any of the damaged items examined)
Anything under $100 might give you another 7 - 9 years of use.
Just a thought.

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Old 09-11-2007, 09:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zaphod7501 View Post

Actually, your TV probably killed their box and your other equipment.
(My background - 35 years in TV repair)
Point 1: Storm damage tends to hit one leg of your AC line but not the other (half the outlets in your house).
Point 2: The newer the set, the more easily damaged. (switching power supplies).
Point 3: Damage occurs in a flow pattern. (in one place out another)
Point 4: The TV is the only hgh current device in the damage path. Low current devices tend to receive damage, not inflict damage.
Point 5: A TV has a two wire plug and uses the tuner shield connector in place of a ground wire. (the RCA jacks are also connected to the coax shield) Most new TVs even have a spark gap on the AC input with a wire that connects to the tuner case. A short in/through the TV outputs through the antenna/cable/RCA connectors, unlike your PJ that probably has a three wire plug.

Lightning or a power surge probably hit one device and the flow pattern passed back through the other devices, damaging them in the process. Due to their design, TVs are the most easily damaged devices that you probably own. Due to their lack of a three wire grounded cord (to minimize ground loop interference) a single TV set failing can damage every device connected to the entire A/V system. The three wire plug on the PJ provides another ground return path for your equipment.

Examining the specific damage to each device would give clues as to the source but it was probably the TV first. The damage then sought a ground return through the Boxes and PrePro to cable coax ground and PJ power line ground. Time to contact your insurance agent and check deductables.

For example, I am currently working on a 7.1 amp. The ground trace burned from the audio input jacks, indicates that the device connected to the input failed, passed to the A/V switch IC, shorting it, passing through to the 7 volt reg ICs, shorting them. Here the damage indicates that the TV shorted and took out the Amp. In your case, all damaged devices would need to be examined to determine the source, but historically the TV is responsible 90+% of the time.

My experience is very different, and includes nearly thirty years of service on CE products in Louisiana and Norht Central Florida. It is much more common for the source of the damage to be the cable system or sat system than the a.c. line, and SMPS damage is less common than damaged bridges in the PS primary. Cable companies disconnect surge suppression all the time making their boxes and the client's equipment more likely to be damaged. We use Panamax devices on all signal and a.c. lines on our installations and never see damage, except on systems where someone has disconnected the cable or sat lines. I have serviced hundreds of devices damaged by lightning and power surges, but never on a system properly connected through a Panamax or similar device.

The notion that not having a three wire ground makes televisions more subject to damage is faulty. All such devices sold in the US are double isolated, but this does not make them more likely to be damaged, nor would having an extra ground make them less so, unless connected systems are not grounded acording to code.

We see damaged all the time that is most likely due to exactly the scenario that the OP described.

Yes, calibration is important...every user should be calibrated.

Need electronics repair? A great place to start looking for a shop in your area: http://www.tvrepairpros.com/
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Old 09-11-2007, 09:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aparis99 View Post

well, you kinda pointed out 2 good things i think.

First, (even tho this doesnt happen like this, it happens thru the AC lines but anyway) if u are blaming the cable lines for the "damaging surge" then all 5 TV's would be out not just the 2 with boxes.

Second, no matter what kind of surge protector you have... NOTHING will stop a mutli-billion volt lightning strike.

i'm a cable tech, and just the past 3 day's i've been on quite a few calls for lightning strikes, and usually, IF AND WHEN it enters a cable line... it burns the connectors or completely melts the cable itself

I run into this quite often. only thing you can do is call ur home insurance company... satellite, cable, telephone, u'll never get anything from any provider b/c of lightning... even the power company (which is the culprit usually)

First, it is simply untrue that if the cable line was the source all five TVs would be damaged. The path that such a surge takes and the amount of current can vary greatly, and many times we see some items on a system that are not damaged with direct or near strikes.

Second, surge suppressors generally do not have to stop "multi-billion volt" strikes, and can be very effective at diverting current that does appear even in close proximity strikes. The vast majority of most current flows to ground through other sources and it is a common fallacy to expect that even a significant portion of the energy of a lightning strike appears at an a.c. or cable connection unless the system ground is compromised.

Connectors may get burned, and wires may be damaged, but the damage may also not be obvious as this. This has nothing to do with whether damage can come in over cable lines or a.c. lines or phone lines. It can come over any connections to a system and often does. It can vary in degree greatly. In general, good quality surge suppression that covers all lines into a system is very effective at preventing or minimizing damage, particularly if the system is properly grounded.

I would certainly file a complaint with the cable company. Their action of removing the cable line protection is very common and is unreasonable without the owner's authorization. We see this happen very frequently and have just had several conversations with management at the local cable provider this week regarding the practice. It is foolish and costs them lots of money in damaged STBs.

Yes, calibration is important...every user should be calibrated.

Need electronics repair? A great place to start looking for a shop in your area: http://www.tvrepairpros.com/
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Old 09-11-2007, 09:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaddScientist View Post

also as a side note, most cable boxes cannot function properly when they are fed through a surge protector, it generally kilsse the return signal coming from the box back to the cable co. that may also be why it was disconnected

This is a falsehood propogated by cable techs that do not understand the technology and the modern products. Most quality surge suppressors made in the past few years do have the bandwidth and the Panamax devices have been fine for years. We have installed hundreds of them with no issues at all unless the cable signal is extremely weak to start with. Typical loss is below 1dB, mostly from the insertion loss in the connectors. If cable operators and techs would do there job there would never be a reason to disconnect most surge protectors and their own equipment would be better protected.

We have this debate with cable techs constantly and every time we discuss the matter with their management and engineers we are told that they should NOT be routinely disconnecting surge suppressors. It is the lazy and uneducated techs that continue this myth.

Yes, calibration is important...every user should be calibrated.

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Old 09-11-2007, 10:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blankfaze View Post

even if the electricity did come through your cable line, why on earth would you think the cableco deserves to pay for it? they don't control lightning! god! why do they deserve to pay for your equipment which was damaged by a natural phenomenon? get insurance!

you bloodsuckers amaze me!

This position would be reasonable if the cable tech had not removed the protection that the user had installed. This is clearly negligent if it was done without authorization. If the cable system is properly grounded and the user had not had protection installed, I would agree. If the cable tech took actions that may have compromised the protection, then I think it is reasonable to assign some responsibility. If the system was not grounded according to code, the cable company is completely liable.

Yes, calibration is important...every user should be calibrated.

Need electronics repair? A great place to start looking for a shop in your area: http://www.tvrepairpros.com/
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Old 07-26-2010, 07:29 PM
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I just had my ps3 get fried for a second time now and I am pissed I was like what the hell is going on.. I went outside to check if the cable line is grounded and sure enough the contractor for cable one that installed my new line didn't put a ground wire in at all.. NOW!! That makes the cable company liable for all damages..
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Old 07-27-2010, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by rexfollett View Post

I just had my ps3 get fried for a second time now and I am pissed I was like what the hell is going on.. I went outside to check if the cable line is grounded and sure enough the contractor for cable one that installed my new line didn't put a ground wire in at all.. NOW!! That makes the cable company liable for all damages..


Ummm, sorry dude, the cable has NOTHING to do with your ps3.
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Old 07-27-2010, 11:59 AM
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That makes the cable company liable for all damages..

Perhaps, if you can prove that the surge entered on the cable.
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Old 07-27-2010, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by sitlet View Post

Ummm, sorry dude, the cable has NOTHING to do with your ps3.

Yes it has everything to do with it.. everything else is hooked up to a monster surge protector.. everything else is fine. The cable running in goes through my modem then a router then hard cabled into my ps3.. The cable modem the router and my 2 ps3 network adapters internally are fried.. The pop and blue light happened right when the lightning struck I heard a pop and saw light flash from up in my component cabinet that holds my ps3's..

Ok aside from that the update today is CableOne is wanting to pass the buck on to the satellite company Dish Network. Cable one came out today and just left they went ahead and installed a ground wire up to the grounding block but they told me that their existing ground wire had been unscrewed from the ground block and cut and used by dish network to ground dish networks satellite. Dish network was the last guys to come out here so maybe its true I mean why would cable one installers come put up a new cable line to my house and not install a ground wire? The ground block looks like it has been tampered with so there was a ground wire hooked up to it at some point..
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Old 07-27-2010, 05:14 PM
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And Dish will probably deny it. Enough plausible deniability to leave you holding the bag.

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Old 07-28-2010, 10:01 PM
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And Dish will probably deny it. Enough plausible deniability to leave you holding the bag.

Well I bookmarked this thread and joined this site so I will take you all through this with me and keep you posted and we will see what the outcome is.. Today I filed the claim with Dish and they are calling me back to arrange a time for the tech manager or someone to come out.. Little will they know that I will have CableOne tech manager waiting here to greet them. They can fight it out but someone is going to pay.. Since this has happened I have read up on the NEC and the enforcement and they are facing misdemeanors as well as hefty fines from the state or county if they wanna blow this up I am ready to make this 5 o clock news..
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Old 07-28-2010, 10:17 PM
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Good luck.

I just know that when you get into a murky situation of two companies blaming the other for something, unless you have absolute proof, it usually never goes anywhere.

Don't believe everything on the Interwebz! A duck's quack DOES echo!
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Old 07-29-2010, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by rexfollett View Post

Well I bookmarked this thread and joined this site so I will take you all through this with me and keep you posted and we will see what the outcome is.. Today I filed the claim with Dish and they are calling me back to arrange a time for the tech manager or someone to come out.. Little will they know that I will have CableOne tech manager waiting here to greet them. They can fight it out but someone is going to pay.. Since this has happened I have read up on the NEC and the enforcement and they are facing misdemeanors as well as hefty fines from the state or county if they wanna blow this up I am ready to make this 5 o clock news..

Make sure you a paid Electrical Engineer on retainer for your court date. Unless someone of a certain profession testify in court with most certainty of who caused damage you got nothing.

Basically someone has to look at your damaged equipment and say "this is who to blame" and appear in court to back it up. I doubt you will get anywhere but good luck with that.

All Comments made are my own and not of my employer.
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Old 07-31-2010, 05:36 AM
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Your Ps3 is not supplied by the cable provider - was it hooked up by either Dish or Cable One? What about a DVD player or home theater system? I could see a claim regarding a component connected directly, such as computer and tv.

Millions of years ago, maybe 1978, my black and white tv was burned out from lightening surge through the cable line. I learned from the tv repairman that unplugging power source was not sufficient and now I disconnect cable lines as well during a storm. I can't afford to replace my computer/tv.
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Old 08-05-2010, 09:11 AM
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Your Ps3 is not supplied by the cable provider - was it hooked up by either Dish or Cable One? What about a DVD player or home theater system? I could see a claim regarding a component connected directly, such as computer and tv.

Millions of years ago, maybe 1978, my black and white tv was burned out from lightening surge through the cable line. I learned from the tv repairman that unplugging power source was not sufficient and now I disconnect cable lines as well during a storm. I can't afford to replace my computer/tv.

It doesn't matter dude dish network took off the ground to my cableone service.. They violated NEC rules and regulations.. The liability for damages caused by violating the NEC is on Dish Network.. They are liable for any damage Lightning storm/act of god if they didn't comply with the NEC. Its a misdemeanor and punishable of up to 10,000 dollars..

EDIT: I have Dish network and Cableone coming tomorrow at 9am so I will tell you all how this goes down tomorrow..
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Old 08-05-2010, 10:39 AM
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Ok I called the city and talked to someone for awhile and they told me to call FCC I called FCC and they were short with me but basically they provide the rules and they referred me to the FTC So I called FTC at 877-382-4357 and spoke to someone and filed a complaint and got a reference number but unless so many more complaints happen they might never do anything or take any action. They referred me to State department of consumer affairs so I called them SDCA 800-621-0508 and that is where I started getting the wealth of information.. The rabbit hole seems to stop at the state department of consumer affairs.. After getting the website from SDCA to file with them they told me to wait till we see what happens tomorrow when cable one and dish network get out here and battle it out in my front yard. They also provided me with contact numbers to Legal Representation in case I have to file a small claim for my damages.. That info is Legal Aid 800-568-3857 State Bar Lawyer Referral 800-252-9690. This thread probably needs to be stickied and I don't even know how old this thread is I just found this site when I was searching "dish cable lightning liable" or something like that.. But basically its going to be a small claims suite that i will win but will need FCC information concerning regulations, codes like NEC. As far as FTC I file a complaint so in case more people have the problem and file they will start a massive investigation into the company that is not servicing people correctly according to FCC, NEC etc. etc. You have to contact your state department of consumer affairs and file a complaint with them as well.. They also require a group of complaints for the same thing before they initiate a investigation.. Its not consumer affairs as in your the sole consumer and they help you.. They do not help on a individual basis. Makes you wonder the defining words of "Consumer Affairs" but none the less its basically like how the FTC will operate a complaint. That said by then if any of you have this same problem you will have exhausted all resources by this point.. I will give a update tomorrow about the outcome of the Dishnetwork-VS-CableOne. That should be aired on one of the popular boxing channels..
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Old 08-05-2010, 11:11 AM
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This thread probably needs to be stickied

Why? This is your fight and your fight alone.

Don't believe everything on the Interwebz! A duck's quack DOES echo!
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Old 08-05-2010, 12:35 PM
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Why? This is your fight and your fight alone.

At 307,006,550 American population I find that hard to believe that this is my fight alone... But thanks for your opinion...

EDIT: Just noticed that no threads are stickied.. lol So your comment was futile and pointless.. Maybe your approach should have been as to inform me that no threads are stickied.. With 5,986 posts I am sure you are aware of that..
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Old 08-05-2010, 01:00 PM
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Why? This is your fight and your fight alone.

Maybe so but it's an interesting read.
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