Cable Co. Empties 14,000 E-Mail Accounts
officials believe a software error during routine maintenance caused the company
to delete the contents of 14,000 customer e-mail accounts.
There is no way to retrieve the messages, photos and other attachments that
were erased from inboxes and archive folders across the country on Monday, said
Anita Lamont, a spokeswoman for the suburban St. Louis-based company.
"We really are sincerely sorry for having had this happen and do apologize
to all those folks who were affected by the error," Lamont said Thursday
when the company announced the gaff.
Charter, one of the nation's largest cable TV operators, also provides telephone
and high-speed Internet service. It has applied a $50 credit to the bill of
each customer whose account was affected by the mistake, Lamont said.
Charter gives each new Internet user a free e-mail account, but some customers
opt to use other accounts instead. So every three months the company deletes
inactive accounts, Lamont said.
"During this maintenance we erroneously deleted active accounts along
with the others," Lamont said. "It's never happened before. They are
taking steps to make sure it never happens again."
Charter provides service in 29 states, and Lamont said the affected customers
were scattered around the country. All told, the company has about 2.6 million
high-speed Internet subscribers.
Computer experts advise backing up all important e-mail.