Hogan's Alley

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Comcast Cable Hopeless In Storm

In a severe storm, our area perennially suffers from electric and other service interruptions because of the large number of trees in this exurban/suburban town. Ice storms and thunder storms are usually the main culprits. Most of my fellow citizens are well used to the process and are willing to suffer the inconvenience as a risk of maintaining the country atmosphere of the area. Many have installed gas powered generators to maintain basic power after an outage.

As well, the electricity and telephone utilities, in this case CL&P and AT&T are reasonably well prepared to deal with these periodic crises. They maintain large enough staffs and sufficient equipment, as well as alliances that permit the rapid import of crews and equipment from neighboring states to address system failures of almost any size.

The worst situation I can recall was in 1973 when an ice storm hit a large swath of the Northeast. It took four days before power was restored to our house. In the dead of winter, we had to abandon ship after the first cold night huddled in front of the fireplace. Two more nights at my inlaws house and we were able to return. This storm was later immortalized by Rick Moody in his novel, The Ice Storm and the subsequent film by Ang Lee.

Cable television providers are young companies. They have no institutional memory of a long series of such events. As a matter of course they maintain technical crews sufficient only to do routine repairs and installations. Come a large storm, they are totally out manned.

So today, four full days after the storm, cable service has still not been restored. I waited until last Friday, when electricity had been restored to call both the telephone and cable providers to alert them of the downing of my service feed from the street. AT&T responded within 20 hours.

Comcast, on the other hand, advised me that a repair could not be scheduled until next Friday, May 25, a full week after my call. On Saturday, hoping that I had not heard correctly over the dicey cell connection, I called back. After hearing my complaint and consulting with supervisors, the repair appointment was rescheduled for next Tuesday afternoon. An improvement, but still not what a reasonable person would call prompt.

My only solace comes from the grateful knowledge that I am not dependent on this incompetent company for my phone and internet service. That would be truly intolerable. It is inconceivable to me that anyone living in an area such as ours, with overhead utility lines and plentiful trees would ever turn to their cable company for essential services such as phone and internet. These companies are simply unprepared for their emerging role as providers of "utilities", essential services which demand prompt restoration.

I can live without seeing Lost or the Sopranos live, although is will hurt, but being entirely out of touch with the would that long is absolutely not tolerable. I can't wait for AT&T to make television service over their wires available. I will sign up in a New York minute.