Hundreds of Verizon customers in the West 70’s and 80’s have lost service on their copper Verizon lines over the past few weeks.
People who contacted us said the problems started on February 3, and they have not gotten clear answers from Verizon. “After much prevarication and many delays, customer service representatives now say that the projected repair completion date is Mar 8. This is outrageous,” wrote Jean Ballard Terepka, a college counselor, archivist and historian who uses her home landline for her work too.
“A copper cable has failed,” wrote Mark Rosen. “VZN trucks have been at 75th & Columbus and 74th & Columbus for weeks. The repair time was to have been two weeks….at the end of two weeks it became three weeks….and now the latest is a four week outage. This outage has had an impact on both residential and commercial installations on the UWS. The copper cable seems to be a low priority for VZN. The priority clearly is FiOS.”
Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal’s office was also affected, according to the West Side Spirit, and the office is now using a digital phone service provided through the City Council. “When you called you just got a busy signal,” said [chief of staff Marisa] Maack. “We get a lot of phone calls every day. And in the winter it’s hard for some people to get out. We’re providing social services out of the office so we just couldn’t have this.”
Verizon spokesman John Bonomo told us that winter weather is to blame and that the repairs are ongoing.
“Service to some addresses (not all) in the W. 80s and 70s is being affected by problems in two underground cables between W 73-74th. These two cable were affected by water entering these cables, not unusual during these severe weather months when we experience extreme moisture, melting snow and ice, and possibly amplified by the corrosive elements of road salt. These problems on these two cables have resulted in just over 200 customers to lose any services provided via copper services — voice and High Speed Internet. Fiber cables in this area are not affected, and buildings served by Verizon’s fiber are not affected. We have been unable to open the street for construction, but we are working continually since the problem first occurred to replace large sections of cable that were damaged by the water intrusion. Nearly 100 of these customers have accepted our VoiceLink product to restore their voice services while we complete the repairs; others have declined when offered to them. We expect to have both cables completed and service fully restored within the next two weeks.”
A tech website called Ars Technica noted that Verizon has been moving many customers to VoiceLink, a wireless phone system. “This has been a recurring theme for Verizon, which often tells customers their phone lines can’t be fixed right away but that they can switch to “Voice Link,” a wireless replacement for landlines. Voice Link isn’t regulated as a utility like the copper landlines are, and it can’t last through power outages the way copper lines can.”
UPDATE, 2:50 p.m. Friday: Jean Ballard Terepka writes in to say her phone service was suddenly restored: “My service was fully restored ten minutes ago: I can make calls and receive calls. — I have no way of knowing whether or not there is a connection between my increasing anger as expressed in my many conversations with various Verizon customer services representatives over the last several days on the one hand and the sudden resolution of my problems well ahead of my projected repair date of March 8 on the other. Although I am relieved that my ‘phone service has been restored and am grateful to the individual repair people who effected it, I remain disturbed by the overall story and its implications.”
SECOND UPDATE, Saturday night: Jean says the restored service was very temporary. It lasted all of one day! “This afternoon, when I reached customer service (using my cell ‘phone, whose reception is not very good), I spoke with a Mr. Piecuch. He reported that my record showed no indication of my ‘phone having worked at any time yesterday; he also said that my projected repair date had now been moved to March 9. He said that he had no idea what was causing the delays and that Verizon has a policy of not allowing people to contact anyone of the “engineers” actually working on the problem at hand because “they don’t take ‘phone calls.” When I asked whom I might contact to try to get a clearer understanding of what’s going on, Mr. Piecuch said that there was no one as everyone is already doing everything possible. He did however say that the report of my ‘phone call that he would make for the records related to my account might initiate a process of “checking up on overdue commitments.”
Photo of phone by fabulous fafla.