Home News Local news 1000-PLUS PHONES OUT IN ST. THOMAS-ST. JOHN

1000-PLUS PHONES OUT IN ST. THOMAS-ST. JOHN

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At least 1,000 and maybe as many as 2,000 telephone lines are down or malfunctioning in the St. Thomas-St. John district.
A knowledgeable source at the V.I. Telephone Corp. said Monday that 2,000 phone lines were awaiting repair on the two islands. On Tuesday, a second source inside the telephone company confirmed there were "for sure" 1,000 lines down in the district.
On Friday, Nov. 19, the day after Hurricane Lenny finished its passage through the territory, a Vitelco press release advised the public that "latent effects of the storm" would start to affect telephone service soon "due to the corrosive effects of the salt spray."
The following Monday, company spokeswoman Katrina White-Comissiong said crews had worked over the weekend making repairs, and most lines were in service on St. John and St. Thomas by Sunday. Comissiong told St. Thomas Source an update would be forthcoming, but up to publication time for this report, calls to her to find out the current status of repairs had not been returned.
One disgruntled Vitelco customer, who asked not to be named, said out of three phone lines, she had only one working and was given a Dec. 17 date for repair when she called on Nov. 22.
"I think that's unconscionable," she said.
When Betty Story, another Vitelco customer who has been experiencing phone problems, called the 612 repair number to report this, she was told she was scheduled for repair on Dec. 3. But when she called again to confirm the date, she says, she was told by a customer service representative that "they didn't know when they would be in my area."
Upon calling a third time, Story was told she was scheduled for Dec. 6. When she questioned the changed date, the Vitelco repair representative told Story, "We have a million areas to cover."
Keithley Joseph, executive director of the Public Services Commission, said he hadn't received any complaint calls. He said he knew Vitelco had made "some sort of statement" on Monday about equipment being damaged. Joseph thought the statement said the equipment would be fixed in 72 hours.
Joseph said customers are entitled to credit on their phone bills for the days they are without service. He said consumers should put their requests for credit in writing to the phone company and send a copy to the PSC.
The 1999 Vitelco telephone directory notes on page 2 that customers "are entitled to an adjustment" for interruption in services of 24 hours or more "due to a Vitelco service problem."
Consumers also have the right to know when their service will be restored, according to the PSC director.
"I can sympathize, "Joseph said. "I was without service from two days before Lenny and just now got it back."

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