Can you hear us now?

Fifty years ago, we could put a man on the moon and talk to him. These days, our cellphones, landlines and Internet won’t even work.
“Hello? Hello? Hello?”
“Can you hear me?”
“Are you there?”
We hear those questions over and over and over again.
There was no way to call 911 in an emergency. Calls were dropped. There was an inability to communicate. Text messages went undelivered. People couldn’t call. People couldn’t use their Internet. Phones fluctuated between full bars to none.
Depending on who you talk to, there have been reports of spotty and poor cellular service for about a month.
It is more than just an inconvenience. Real estate agents couldn’t access home lockboxes. Entire companies suffered. It was a train wreck. Time is money, and this past week has cost local businesses tremendously.
At The SUN, we depend on Internet service. Everything we took home to accomplish over the weekend required access to the Internet. Bookkeeping is done online. Payroll is done online. Banking is done online. Filing worker’s comp audits is done online. Software programs are online.
Everything was online except for us.
CenturyLink wasn’t able to provide our landline phone or Internet service from sometime last Friday through Tuesday night. There were a total of five days this past month when they were completely out.
On Friday, we were promised a text message from a CenturyLink representative to inform when we would have service again. That text never came.
Lightning sparked a fire and we still had no landline Monday morning to call and report the fire. Thankfully, there was one bar on the cellphone and we got through to dispatch.
People who could find some sort of service took to contacting The SUN to “investigate the situation.”
Well, it was a simple investigation. There was pretty much no cell service for Verizon customers and that seemed to affect customers of other providers. CenturyLink customers were without landlines and Internet. That all translated to major outages. Investigation complete.
The bigger our cellular and Internet companies have gotten, the less accountable they have been to their most important assets: their customers. They don’t answer your emails. They ignore your questions.
Individuals who could contact their providers, found themselves ignored, put on hold, cut off and were left with unanswered questions and a plethora of excuses from these major corporations regarding their failure to perform.
There are over 225 comments on The SUN’s Facebook page regarding the matter.
Is it going to take a major incident to get these companies to take us seriously?
A SUN reporter posed multiple questions to Verizon representatives and got a canned response. They ignored our questions.
On Monday, we contacted every CenturyLink person who has attempted in the past to get publicity through the editor’s email address at the newspaper office.
We finally got a response: “This email is to advise you that CenturyLink has received your complaint regarding the ongoing service issues and that I will be responsible for its investigation and resolution. As a member of the Customer Advocacy Group, I will be your advocate in championing your needs as a customer. I will do my absolute best to resolve your complaint as quickly and thoroughly as possible.”
That song “We are the Champions” came to mind.
The email continued, “I apologize for the difficulty you have experienced with our service and for the amount of time spent trying to resolve it. I will be working with our Repair Escalations Team to address this further and assist with a resolution. I will also reach out to you if I have any questions or need any additional information.”
They apparently needed no more information. Our champions from the CenturyLink Customer Advocacy Group seemed to go into hiding. We haven’t heard a word from them since that initial email.
We attempted to contact them through the company’s Facebook page and were told we had to private message them. When we did that, there was no response.
It’s not OK to have no phone service and no Internet. It’s unacceptable to have companies who ignore their customers. As long as we continue to tolerate this horrible service, these providers have no reason to make improvements or keep their marketing promises. That’s not OK, either.
No business is perfect. We all have unavoidable problems. The difference is reliability, accountability and customer service. Why give our hard-earned money to a company that simply doesn’t care?
What our community has experienced with connectivity issues and appalling customer service has been completely ridiculous.
It’s time for us to demand changes. Call or email and remind these companies every day that we deserve better service. That is, if you can get a cellphone signal or get your landline or Internet to work in order to contact them.

This story was posted on July 18, 2019.