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Mountain Messenger, Saturday, October 10, 2009

Plain Facts.  Common Sense.  In this commentary I try to apply common sense to relevant facts.

Can’t do that this week.  I don’t have the facts.  What I also do not have is telephone service.  My telephone is part of an area-wide “outage.”  Without facts, what I have is a heap of outrage.

I telephoned my answering machine to pick up messages.  Worked as usual, until late Saturday.  Then the phone rang and rang but the machine never answered.

So I telephoned my neighbor.  Ring, ring, ring…. no answer.

I assumed that for the first time in thirty years, my telephone and/or answering machine went awry.  Maybe my neighbors were visiting or had an emergency.

Back home, I checked every telephone connection.  Even those shamefully dusty ones were well connected.  There was no dial tone where the phone line comes in the house.

Verizon’s human-like voice said that service is out in my “area.” It will be restored by Tuesday.

It’s not just the telephone.  My internet connection is still horse-and-buggy “dial up.”  No dial tone, no internet.  It could be even worse.  Some folks live alone with telephone-operated monitors.

Still no dial tone on Wednesday.  Verizon finally allowed me to speak to a person.  He didn’t get it.  Your maintenance account is up to date, he said.  In fact, the price is going down.   He said he would put in a repair order.

Another Verizon human seemed to understand that the problem was regional.  She said that repairs were underway and they “hope” to have service restored by Friday.

I still do not know what broke the telephone system.  Someone told me that the police chased a vehicle that smacked a telephone pole.

I also do not see that Verizon is taking the matter seriously.  Have they called in extra repair crews?  Are they working day and night?  If so, how could it take so long to repair those poles, or whatever is broken?

Remember the ice storms in past years that disrupted utilities?   Remember how extra crews worked around the clock?  My electricity was off once for ten days.  I could make plans because local newspapers told us what was happening.

Is it unreasonable to believe that Verizon has a positive duty to inform us – at least through the local media?

I called the West Virginia Public Service Commission at 1-800-642-8544.  No, Verizon had not informed the PSC that they would have dial tone outage for a week or weeks.  No, Verizon does not tell customers about outages.  “They have too many outages to do that,” Shannon said.  She sent my complaint to Verizon.  Verizon has thirty days to responds.  “You’ll probably hear from Verizon sooner than that,” she said.

Actually, the PSC complaint got at least a call to my cell phone.  Verizon gave me the same outage number that I had been calling.  They said that “local management” will be made aware of outage and will report to me within 48 hours.

Absent facts, I can only guess.  I guess that Verizon does not give a tinker’s $%^&* about customers, at least those south of Red Oaks Shopping Center.  I guess that Verizon is too arrogant to consider that their customers need telephones.

West Virginians complain too much to Verizon the company says.  Rather than improve service and customer relations, Verizon’s trying getting sell all its West Virginia land lines.   Frontier has another year to complete the purchase.

I hope the sale goes through.  Goodbye, Verizon, and good riddance.  Frontier, we expect you to deliver better service.