Vivian Reid hasn’t run into significant problems so far, but she is not happy she has been without phone service for the past week and a half.
The senior citizen lives on West Valley Road in Corner Brook and was one of Bell Aliant’s customers affected by a damaged phone cable.
The Western Star first reported on the problem Jan. 8, but Reid said she has not had phone service since Jan. 6.
There is a red light illuminated on her phone, but only silence when she picks up the receiver.
Since her phone has been out, Reid has had to depend on neighbours to make important phone calls. In the past week, she has had to make an unexpected dentist appointment and order home heating fuel.
She has had friends — unaware her phone hasn’t been working — make the effort to come check on her after calling her repeatedly, only to get an incessant busy signal.
Up until Wednesday, Reid had not heard anything from Bell Aliant directly. Crews from the phone company continued to work on the problem further down West Valley Road.
“What upsets me is they haven’t come to me to let me know what’s going on or when they think I might get my phone back,” she said. “It’s unbelievable. You don’t realize how much you depend on your phone until you don’t have one.”
Reid is particularly concerned about needing to make a call in the event of an emergency.
Even having to leave her home to use a neighbour’s phone is a concern.
“It wouldn’t be so bad if it was summertime, but it has been really icy out to be walking around,” she said.
None of Reid’s four sons lives in Corner Brook. Her son Dave lives in Ottawa and is also not pleased with how the phone company has handled the situation affecting his mom and others in her neighbourhood.
“We couldn’t get a hold of her and we had to get neighbours to go check on her just to make sure she was OK,” Reid said. “The least Bell could have done was given them all temporary cellphones, but they never even sent anybody to go visit them. Its inconceivable.”
Reid said not having a phone is not just a concern for older people like his mother. Anyone, he noted, could experience an emergency at any time.
Initially, the problem with the phone cable — a piece of underground infrastructure Bell Aliant said malfunctioned after it got wet from high storm waters — affected about 200 households. It also knocked out phone service to three of Western Health’s facilities, including Western Memorial Regional Hospital and the Corner Brook Long-Term Care centre, but phone service at those two buildings was restored within a day.
It took a few more days to restore the phones at the Hammond Building on West Valley Road, the third Western Health facility affected.
The number of private households affected has since continued to drop, but Bell Aliant confirmed Wednesday about 20 customers are still affected by “intermittent issues.”
No one from Bell Aliant was available for an interview, but an emailed statement from the company said the water damage was significant and resulted in a longer window for repair work than originally planned.
It could not say when the entire phone system would be back to normal, but hoped it would be soon.
“We encourage customers in the area to contact the Bell Aliant repair line at 611 to report service issues and we will work with them to correct the problem as soon as possible,” stated the email. “We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused and are working hard to complete the final repairs.”
Bell Aliant encouraged its customers to use a cellphone or a neighbour’s phone if they need to call 611.
“We encourage any customer experiencing a service issue to contact us directly, so we can deal with each situation individually,” stated the email.
The Western Star