For the second time in a month, Comcast Corporation’s home-automation services are under fire for allegedly failing at a crucial time. A Seattle-area couple whose teenage son was tortured and nearly killed by home invaders last year are suing the cable giant over a home security system they say failed to deliver what Comcast promised. As the NBC affiliate KING 5 in Seattle reports, intruders broke into the basement of Leena Rawat’s home in October 2013, pulled her 18-year-old son, Deep, out of his bed and tried to cut off his limbs. He barely escaped with his life.
A month earlier, Rawat had purchased a home security system from Comcast and believed its functions would activate a motion detector in the basement window. But she claims the window was never armed with one. Rawat, KING 5 reports, said the home was declared to be “intruder-proof,” and so she and Deep’s father are suing Comcast and their contractor, Pioneer Cable, for failing to provide an intruder-proof home. She said the motion detector was apparently turned off, but Comcast’s contract absolves the company of all liability.
In a statement, Comcast said: “We want to take this opportunity to extend our sympathies to the Rawat family. However, after a review of our records, we are confident that our home security system functioned properly.”
Home automation is a growing area for Comcast and other telecom companies seeking to encroach on territory carved out by ADT Security Systems. It’s a $13 billion market, Fierce Cable reported, with Comcast emerging as the industry leader. The Philadelphia company offers features such as security, energy management, remote lighting and thermostat control through its Xfinity Home package.
But questions loom about reliability -- and the companies’ liability in the event that something goes wrong. Rawat’s story is the second high-profile account to make news in the last few weeks surrounding the service. In September, the Chicago Tribune reported on a local man, Gary O’Reilly, who said his pregnant wife and 2-year-old son were left freezing in their home after their Comcast-controlled thermostat went on the fritz numerous times. After growing frustrated with the service, O’Reilly told the paper he ended up fighting with the company over a $1,000 early termination fee, which was eventually sent to collection, damaging the O’Reillys’ credit.
“I am trying to refinance our home with the amazing rates these days, but am unable to do so because of the credit score,” he told the Tribune.