TO: Don Dunn
CWA Local 1108 President
I wish to acquaint you and your officers with a situation that has been on-going at the Town of Shelter Island for at least the last 18 years.
I am a retired 30-year employee of NYTelCo / AT&T and its subsequent company iterations. I worked as a station, key system, special services, and PBX repairman for 20 years in Manhattan, and for 10 years as a cable maintenance splicer in Southampton. My NCSD was 2-23-1970. I am fully conversant with how the company operates (or is supposed to operate.) I am certified as a telecommunications expert witness. I am a licensed & insured telecom electrician with Suffolk County Consumer Affairs.
Upon retirement in 1999, I formed a telephone installation and repair company, based on Shelter Island. One of my clients is the government of the Town of Shelter Island. My contract with the town requires me to identify and isolate line troubles, and either to repair problems on "our side" of the NID, or to report to Verizon troubles that test to "their side." I am also employed directly as the Fire Marshal of Shelter Island.
Over the years, I have repeatedly asked to be provided with a telephone number where I could make these reports to a knowledgeable repair clerk who would have, at least, a rudimentary understanding of how the phone company works, and who speaks English, in order that my repair requests would receive the appropriate attention, and be expedited due to the nature of the subscriber, i.e. a town government. My client's service includes the lines serving the general offices of the town along with more critical circuits, such as those of the Police, Fire and Highway departments. I offer my client a 4-hour response time for repairs in those departments.
99.9% of the time, the troubles are in Verizon's cables or equipment. There is a Pair-Gain box that serves the center of town where the police and fire departments are located. For years, the batteries were not serviced or replaced according to the BSP's or manufacturer's recommendations for those systems. Every summer, the box would overheat, fans would fail, batteries would eventually run down, and, especially during prolonged commercial power failures due to storms, the batteries would fail within a few minutes of the power failure. No trucks equipped with generators would ever arrive, with the result that critical circuits would fail almost immediately.
On one occasion, I was able to reach one of the company's so-called "engineers" (God knows where or how he received his engineering degree, since he was clueless). I explained that his PG box was situated exactly 6 feet from a government building equipped with an emergency back-up generator. I suggested that the town and the company join forces and the town would provide a weatherproof outlet and cord set to allow the building generator to power the PG equipment. His answer was that "You can't do that because the telephone company uses a special type of electricity." What do you say to a person who is so mentally-challenged? On one occasion during the aftermath of a severe hurricane, the chief of police directed the fire department to remove the padlock on the PG equipment power inlet, so that we could hook up a portable generator to it to get the cops' lines back up.
We have met with foremen, district managers, engineers, crafts people, and Big Shiny White Helmets from HQ. No amount of pleading and begging has ever resulted in solutions to our problems. We did convince one repairman (now retired) to swap a few critical lines off of the PG and back onto copper to an adjacent building on our government campus. That solved the police department problems permanently.
This week, I called 1-800VERIZON to report an important line out of service. The report was made on Monday morning. The commitment time was Thursday, by 8 pm. I then called another toll-free number that I had used before. They transferred my call to no fewer than 4 other toll-free numbers, over the course of a two hour attempt to expedite the repair. Some of the connections (presumably via VoIP or SIP trunks, manned by people with impenetrable accents in far-away lands) were so bad that I needed to hang up and try again, repeatedly. One would think that the phone company, of any company, would strive for clear connections.
On Thursday the repairman, Roy, arrived and made the repair in less than 15 minutes. It was, as usual, a wet short located in a defective, antique F2 cable. Thank-you to Roy. He's one of the good ones.
Some of the reasons that the repair clerk gave me for NOT expediting the repair:
"Our trucks do not go on boats."
"In the summer, we have a reduced work force."
"We will wait until there are at least three reports before we can roll a truck."
"We cannot temporarily forward the calls to another number because our system will not do that."
And of course the old standby excuse: "The trouble must be in your equipment."
Today, Friday, I notified the town officials that I would be meeting with a sales rep from Optimum. There are a total of 46 Centrex and POTS lines involved. I am reluctantly recommending that the Town make the switch to Optimum/LightPath. As a former faithful employee and Union brother, it pains me to do this. But these days, my allegiance is to my client, and by extension, to the citizens of our town, who deserve not to be abused and harmed by the fools in Verizon's management any longer. Verizon "services" our town the way a bull "services" a cow.
Trust me, I could write about 50 other events over the years in which your irresponsible employer absolutely refused to provide even the most basic support to the town, its citizens or to a long list of my other clients. On a positive note, your members are always there for us, and try to do the right thing, against almost insurmountable obstacles. Thank you for listening.
Arthur P. Bloom
“30 years of faithful service…15 years on HOLD.”