Richards Threatens To Hang Up On Verizon
For five months residents at Ocean Bay Apartments have been without Verizon service. On Monday, Councilman Donovan Richards called for the phone company to speed up their repairs, as well as give three months of free service to compensate customers for the long service disruption.
“Since Hurricane Sandy hundreds of residents in Ocean Bay Houses still, today, don’t have phone or Internet service,” said Richards at a press conference at the housing de-velopment. He added, “To make matters worse Verizon is still billing my constituents monthly bills with no service.”
Arquilla Heard is one of those without service. To make a phone call she said she has to “go out and call on somebody else’s phone.”
“I’m 77 years old, my legs are no good. I need my phone. I really do,” said Heard.
Heard has continued to receive bills. She paid the October and November bills, but still has two others in her apartment and another is probably on its way.
“I don’t have the money to keep paying,” she said.
While he understands the challenges caused by Sandy, Richards feels the company has been negligent by not contacting elected officials or customers to explain the problem and how long the service would be out.
“There’s no line of communication,” said Richards.
In addition to full credit against what they have been they have been billed, Richards is asking that Verizon give these customers at least an additional three months of free service.
“It’s the least they can do,” said the councilman.
In a March 19th email to The Wave, John Bonomo of Verizon explained that, “The storm was devastating to our network in several shore areas. It either fully washed away our outside plant (the cables) or damaged them beyond repair…. Installing an all fiberoptic network is the only way to go, as the newer fiber technology will be better able to withstand another flooding event.”
According to Bonomo, the new fiber network is due to be available to all city residents by 2014. “We’ve taken the “opportunity” of the storm to fasttrack that in the Rockaways and other neighborhoods.”
Felicia Johnson of Community Board 14 also attended the press conference. She said Verizon has ne-glected the community-at-large.
“We’ve been giving addresses to the community board of wires that are still down,” said Johnson, who lives in Bayswater. “They (Verizon) haven’t come to clean and pick up their wires.”
Some examples she gave of areas where wires are still down include Beach Channel Drive and Regina Avenue, side streets like Eggert Place and side streets by Jamaica Bay.
Verizon has already lost one cus-tomer. Ocean Bay Development Corporation, located in the development, switched to Time Warner last week when Verizon didn’t meet the repair completion date they had given the week before.
“I couldn’t wait,” said Pat Simon, OBDCs director.
There may be more lost customers after Richards put Verizon on no-tice.
“I am here to warn that I will reach out to Time Warner to come here to make sure we get better service,” said Richards.