House collapses but cable bill remains

Seven On Your Side
November 14, 2008 9:31:20 PM PST
It's a story that leaves you scratching your head. A Brooklyn family's apartment house literally crumbles around them. But months after they ran for their lives from their collapsing home, they say a cable company is hounding them to pay for the cable boxes they left inside. "My life has been a living nightmare since March," says Joan Fresse. She told Seven On Your Side's Tappy Phillips her incredible survivor story. Last March 12th, Joan's 2 story apartment building suddenly collapsed into a pile of rubble.

"We were lucky to be alive," said Joan. "All me and my mother got out of the building was a nightgown, a pair of slippers, and a coat that's all we got. Everything was gone."

On the March morning, a wall collapsed when a construction company next door was working on it. One worker was killed. The NYC Department of Buildings labelled Joan's building in "imminent danger" and ordered it "vacated." It was demolished later that same day.

"It was so unsafe, I couldn't get nothing. My daughter came back from school, there was no home," said Joan.

It was the last thing on Joan's and her mother's minds, but they left 5 cable boxes behind in the rubble. Cablevision wrote and said they should return the boxes. And when they didn't, sent a bill for 14-hundred dollars.

"We called them and we faxed them the (Department of Buildings) vacate order. They didn't want to understand," said Joan.

Joan and her mother were homeless and penniless. They went to live with relatives. The home where they lived is completely demolished and all they can do is sit on the sidewalk out front. But the Cablevision bill didn't go away. And when the bill wasn't paid, it was sent to collections.

That's when Joan called for Seven on Her Side. We contacted Cablevision and explained Joan's situation.

"Cablevision called the next day. (The) balance was zero," said Joan.

And even though Joan said she faxed the information to Cablevision three times, they told us: "As soon as we were made aware of this situation we immediately credited the account in full, as we do whenever our equipment is lost or damaged as a result of fire or other events that are beyond our customers' control."

In East New York, Tappy Phillips Channel Seven Eyewitness News.


Story by: Tappy Phillips

Produced by: Steve Livingstone