Monday, September 7, 2009
Help Me Howard: Power Surge
Here is a question for you, Florida Power and Light has a power surge, it destroys some of the electronics in your home, are they responsible for the damage? Well, it's a question one woman had for Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- It has not been a routine summer for Gertrude Clay.
Gertrude Clay: "I just had surgery on August 11th on my shoulder. When they went inside, they found a lot of bone spurs, and they said that the tear was worse than what they thought it would be."
One side effect of the surgery, the school guidance counselor can't go back to work. Another, she can't sleep.
Gertrude Clay: "I was in a lot of pain, the medication was not working for me, so I was up."
Patrick Fraser: "Watching TV?"
Gertrude Clay: "Watching TV."
Watching TV two weeks ago, at 2:40 in the morning when her electricity went out.
Gertrude Clay: "They said that someone had run into a light pole down the street."
About half an hour later, the power came back on.
Gertrude Clay: "The TV came on and went back out, like a power surge. It damaged the TV, so when I tried to turn it on, it would not come on."
To be specific, if you hit the power button for the 60-inch TV...
Patrick Fraser: "Let's see what happens, nothing."
A minute later, it suddenly comes on. Five minutes later, the $4,000 TV slowly goes off.
Patrick Fraser: "That's it?"
Gertrude Clay: "That's it."
Patrick Fraser: "What do you want FPL to do?"
Gertrude Clay: "I would like for FPL to either repair the television or replace it."
But, in this letter, an FPL employee told her, 'I have completed my investigation and found no liability on the part of Florida Power and Light.' The letter nearly caused Gertrude as much pain as her shoulder.
Gertrude Clay: "It surprised me that, with me paying my bill and with FPL being the only electrical company that we have, that they would shun on trying to please their customers."
When Gertrude called FPL back, they told her that since the car hitting the pole caused the change in voltage, they were not required to repair or replace her TV.
Gertrude Clay: "They were looking for an excuse before I even said anything. The minute I called, and they returned my call, they were full of excuses."
The power company says they are not responsible and won't pay for the damage. The customer says it's your fault, you have to pay. Howard, who is right?
Howard Finkelstein: "I hate to tell Gertrude, but FPL is right in this case. The legislature has given them enormous protection, and they are only responsible if there is gross negligence. In other words, they have a terrible problem, they know it, and they ignore it, and that doesn't happen very often."
After we contacted FPL, they looked into Gertrude,s claim again. They won,t pay for her damage, but they gave her the name of the insurance company of the driver who hit the pole. Gertrude is filing a claim with them, and so is FPL for the damage to their pole, and while it may not seem fair that FPL is not responsible for Gertrude's TV, there is a good reason.
Howard Finkelstein: "If FPL was responsible every time there was damage from a power surge, it would drive their costs sky high, and all our rates would go even higher. You can protect yourself, though. Some homeowner policies cover the damage, and FPL sells surge protection."
The battle with FPL didn't go well for Gertrude, but she has one thing to look forward to, her doctor letting her go back to school, back to helping kids.
Patrick Fraser: "Do you ever see a kid and go, 'I can't help them'?"
Gertrude Clay: "I can never use the words 'can't.' I try and help every student that comes in contact with me, and usually, that's several students a day."
Patrick Fraser: "If you are worried about a power problem destroying your electronics, FPL power surge insurance costs about $10 per month. Also, FPL says, when the power goes out, turn your electronic devices off. That will protect you if there is a power surge when the electricity comes back on.
Problems got you feeling powerless? Wanna get charged up? Plug us in to your problem. We might shock you and resolve it.
FPL Power Surge Protection