Tempe woman needs help canceling cable service

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TEMPE -- A Tempe woman wants to cancel her cable service but says the cable company won't allow her. So, she contacted 3 On Your Side for help.

When Lucille Stiner likes to relax, she turns on her TV and watches something on cable. But at 87 years old, Stiner says she just can't afford the $23 monthly bill anymore. So, she called Cox Cable and asked them to cancel her service.

That's the problem, though. Stiner's husband is the only one on the cable account, and only he can cancel. However, that's impossible since her husband passed away two decades ago. Yet, Cox needs proof that he died.

"I wanted to send them his burial plot in the veteran's cemetery because I have that date," she said. "I know where he is buried."

Now, Stiner's husband died 21 years ago, so finding his death certificate is a little difficult. So, Cox Cable sent her a six-page document that she has to fill out and then get notarized just to cancel the cable to her house.

The documents are supposed to transfer the account into Stiner's name and only then will she be able to cancel her cable.

But Stiner says the paperwork is confusing. In fact, it comes with step-by-step directions, not to mention it also requires very personal information.

"They want my Social Security number and I said, 'No, I'm not going to do it,'" she said.

Frustrated, Stiner's friend contacted 3 On Your Side. I got a hold of Cox Cable, which said all that paperwork actually helps protect a customer's account from being tampered with by someone else.

Regardless, considering Stiner's situation, they went ahead and immediately canceled her cable without having her go through all the motions.

Now, Stiner uses an antenna to watch programming and says as long as she can watch Channel 3 she's content.

I should clarify that all that paperwork Cox requires keeps unauthorized people from closing or maybe changing someone's account so Cox really didn't do anything wrong here.

Cox released the following statement:

Thank you for the opportunity to provide a statement regarding the resolution of the matter you brought to our attention regarding Cox customer Lucille Stiner. As we communicated to you this afternoon by phone, Mrs. Stiner's issue has been resolved and she has communicated to us that she is very happy with the outcome.

As you know, Mrs. Stiner contacted Cox on April 30 to request cancellation of Cox video services at her home. The account was in the name of her husband who passed away 21 years ago. She was not authorized on the account. Due to customer privacy laws that Cox must comply with, we cannot allow an unauthorized person to make changes to or close an account. This information was communicated to Mrs. Stiner and she was advised of the process necessary to enable her to close the account, including providing Cox with a copy of her husband’s death certificate. The required paperwork was sent to her the same day she contacted Cox to cancel her services. Unfortunately, Mrs. Stiner was unable to locate the death certificate and other challenges prevented her from completing our required process. Once we were notified by Three on your Side of her inability to comply with our requirements, we immediately contacted Mrs. Stiner and arranged for the cancellation of her services, retroactive to the date she originally contacted Cox, April 30. We also refunded to her the amount of $7.60 for the late fee she was assessed when she stopped paying on the account. That refund was delivered to her in cash this afternoon.

Cox regrets the inconvenience to Mrs. Stiner in this situation, however the procedure we follow authorizing access to customers’ accounts is intended to protect the privacy and security of our customers' accounts and is in full compliance with customer privacy laws that we must follow. These procedures and requirements are not unique for service providers like Cox. We appreciate the opportunity to address the unique circumstances of Mrs. Stiner's situation.

Susan Anable, Director of Public Affairs

Cox Communications