[Update #3: Day 15, still no action from FairPoint beyond a couple of phone calls. I had contacted the Vermont Dept. of Public Service again on Friday to make sure our repair ticket and lack-of-service-complaint had not been closed out since we do have a dial tone. I was assured that it would not be closed until the line was fixed, although Christine Peterson at DPS said she could not really push FairPoint too hard because folks without dial tone service were a priority. Within a couple of hours, “Carrie” who identified herself as calling from FairPoint (Maine area code) left a message inviting me to call back to let her know “if they’ve fixed that line yet.” It was not a toll-free number. I called, left a message (“No, Carrie, of course ‘they’ haven’t fixed the line, as I’m sure you know. And I note this is not a toll-free call, so I want you to remove the charge for this call from my bill.”
At least the guy who plows my driveway will be able to get under the wire now that I’ve propped it up with my jury-rig. That could be important in the next couple of days.
[Update #2: On Day 9 of the downed-wire-across-the driveway FairPoint non-response, my firewood supplier had called to say he was bringing 3 cords. With wood being in short supply, I didn’t turn him down. Instead, I jury-rigged my own pole out of stuff I had on hand: plastic conduit and a broomstick anchored to a metal fence post I hammered into the side of the driveway (not to worry, phone lines this old are all low-voltage and coated) to lift the wire. It was high enough for the truck to get through, and it survived the windy, snowy, sleety night, and may last long enough for the second load of firewood to be delivered tomorrow, which will be Day 11. Crossing my fingers … oh, that’s what FairPoint’s plan is, too, I guess. But they’re getting paid for less and less service.]
[Update #1: Response from Public Service Department; robocall from FairPoint; live person call from Fairpoint. See comments for details.]
It’s been a week since a big section of a neighbor’s pine tree blew down across my driveway, taking out the power and phone lines. I walked down to the also power-and-phone-less neighbor’s to borrow a car so I could drive up to Town Hall to phone in the report to Green Mountain Power.
Now, I’m not particularly thrilled with Gaz Metro’s near-monopoly ownership of Vermont’s electric (GMP, acquired in 2007; Central Vermont Public Service, 2012) and gas (Vermont Gas, 1986) companies in Vermont. Not to mention the company’s (ahem) absorption of a rate-payer-financed loan without repayment, a deal okayed by the Shumlin Administration and the Public Service Board.
But I admit to being impressed when a GMP truck, complete with bucket lift, rolled into the lower third of my driveway an hour after the call, and disgorged two guys with a chainsaw. The driveway was cleared and electric power restored in about another hour.
Contrast that with FairPoint’s total lack of response. The GMP/Gaz Metro guys had told us that they could not – were not allowed to – restring the phone line. They tied a couple pieces of orange surveyor’s tape onto the wire where it draped obliquely across the driveway, and that was that. I was not surprised.
So, my wife filed a wire-down repair request that day via FairPoint’s website. The next day, Tuesday the 25th, I filed another. On Friday (late Thursday night) I sent another. Having the wire draped low over the driveway means no deliveries from FedEx or UPS. Getting the tenth-of-a-mile-long driveway plowed is problematic. I have now also filed a complaint with the Public Service Department.
I’ve now heard from a mutual friend that a gentleman, a double-amputee who lives with his wife on a dirt road just a couple of miles from the middle of town, can’t get FairPoint to fix his phone line either.*
[Update 12/8/14: Spoke to the man’s wife today. She said their line was repaired, took about a week. I said we were still waiting; her response: “well, you have two legs.” Yeah, there’s that.]
At best, FairPoint management’s pre-snowstorm confidence seems entirely misplaced:
Expressing confidence, a FairPoint spokesperson stressed the fill-in techs are experienced and well trained.
In a statement, FairPoint said despite the strike, network reliability hasn’t been interrupted and emergency 911 service has been fully operational, though there have been a small number of customers who’ve been “inconvenienced” by the strike.
Especially given the post-storm Saturday disclosure of a nearly 6-hour outage* affecting 9-1-1 emergency reporting and dispatch services in “many communities” on Friday afternoon and evening. Guess who three weeks ago took over the contract for that?
[*corrected from 4]
So, between the company’s casual and negative response to its striking workers, the total lack of action or even communication regarding repairs, the inept handling of Vermont’s 9-1-1 service, and the increasing number of consumer complaints, it looks like calling FairPoint is a wrong number.