Hendersonville resident hit with $300 bill over damage to $10 wire left exposed by AT&T

A Hendersonville resident says he was hit with a $338 bill from AT&T after mowing over a wire the company left exposed in his yard. PHOTO: WZTV Fox Nashville-Submitted

HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn.--A Hendersonville resident says he was hit with a $338 bill from AT&T after mowing over a wire the company left exposed in his yard.

Saundersville Station resident Brandon Sons says back in April, he made the decision to switch to U-verse after AT&T started offering service in the neighborhood. The company came out an installed lines for both Brandon and his neighbor, but was allegedly told they couldn't bury them until gas lines were detected and it was deemed safe.

The lines were left exposed in the yard for about three weeks according to Brandon, and of course, he still had to mow his yard during that time frame. Brandon says he made every effort to avoid clipping the fiber lines but one did get damaged while mowing. Brandon says he called AT&T about the issue and was allegedly told "this happens all the time" and not to worry, that they would send someone right out.

Brandon says a worker showed up and buried both his and his neighbor's lines, despite his line being damaged. Two other workers responded after the burial to address the damaged line issue, and Brandon says he was told by the previous worker burying the lines, it made it more difficult for them to find a solution to fixing his line.

The fix eventually took place and Brandon says he was satisfied, until last week.

Months after the issue, Brandon received a claim for damages from AT&T in the mail for $338.06, charging him for damage to the "fiber drop." An examination of the bill shows charges for the line totaled just $10.47, along with a total of $21.94 for the "trouble tickets." The employees labor cost accounted for the biggest bulk of the charge, totaling $305.65 for three hours of work.

Brandon says aside from the shock of the bill itself, the repairs did not take three hours and at no time was he told it was his responsibility for any charges during the repair process. Brandon says "even they told me this happens all the time, but yet AT&T stands to profit from leaving lines out when they should be buried so this doesn't happen. The lines are their responsibility and should not be coming out of the consumer's pocket. I already paid the $100 install fee."

Brandon says he contacted AT&T and asked for a manager to call him, a call he never received. Three days after receiving the original bill, another one was waiting for him stating if they didn't receive payment in 30 days, then further collection action would be taken. So, Brandon says he called AT&T back again and was allegedly told not only could a manager not be reached, his request to remove the charges had already been denied by the manager.

FOX 17 Nashville reached out to the corporate offices for comment, but at the time of this writing, we have not received an answer on the policy and procedures involving issues like these. However, we spoke with a customer service representative over the phone who stated "it kind of depends" if a customer is billed for damages when this happens. The rep also stated "most of the time they usually don't charge for that."

Another representative we spoke with at the business office call center says in these situation, AT&T sends a representative from their Buried Wire Center to the scene and then they decide whether to call out and AT&T investigator. The investigator then decides if the customer should be billed for the damage.

In the meantime, Brandon says he still has not received a call from a manager. "This is corporate bullying, trying to force someone into paying a bill in fear that they will be sent to collections and hurt their credit," Brandon says.

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