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Frustrated Comcast Subscriber Takes Hammer to Local Office

A 75-year-old Bristow, Va. woman has paid $345 as compensation for damages and is serving three months of probation, the result of her hammer attack on equipment in a Manassas, Va. Comcast Corp. office in August.

The consumer, Mona Shaw, said she took a hammer to the phone handsets and shoved a computer monitor off the counter after she failed to get a response by the company to her lack of phone service.

“I couldn’t think of another way to get their attention. I really couldn’t,” she said in an interview.

But Jeff Alexander, vice president, corporate communications for Comcast’s Eastern Division said there were appropriate alternatives to Shaw's attack. He labled her actions “dangerous and represhensible,” adding that luck saved the lobby employees from injury. Comcast takes good customer service, and the safety of its employees, seriously, he said.

Shaw, a retired nurse, has a heart condition and was stressed and angered after what she said was a botched upgrade to a triple-play bundle. The subscriber said everything went wrong before she packed a hammer in her purse and went in person to the local office: the installer didn't come on the appointed day, Aug. 13, but two days later; the installation left them with incoming calls only; an attempt to remedy that left them with no service at all; an in-person visit to the Manassas office resulted in a two-hour wait, only to be told the supervisor she was waiting to see had gone home.

When a complaint to the Virginia state Corporations Commission did not elicit a response from Comcast, she packed her hardware, she said. She marched past a waiting line, started hitting things with her hammer and asked repeatedly, “Have I got your attention now?” The incident ended with Shaw’s arrest; she’s now barred from entering the local cable office.

That’s fine, she said. She has DirecTV now, and she’s returned to Verizon for phone service and has added digital-subscriber line service, she said. But some part of Comcast still thinks she's a customer: before a reporter's call on Oct. 10, she got a voice mail message thanking her for being a customer and advising her they planned to come to her place Oct. 11 "as part of her service contract,” she said, chuckling.