Dec. 13, 2005–Although his phone is finally fixed, St. Thomas resident Jason Budsan is fed up with Vitelco's repair service.
Budsan said he tried to get the repairman to call when he was on his way so he could dash home to let him in, but he couldn't convince anyone to call first.
"I left numerous phone numbers everywhere. All I'm saying is give me a call so I can run home. I can't take off from work," said Budsan, who is a small business owner.
He said his phone was out for two months, and he finally took time off from work to make sure he was home when the repairman came.
When he and the repairman finally connected, it took only 10 minutes to make the repair. Budsan said the problem was caused by moisture in the telephone line, a common occurrence in the Virgin Islands.
St. Croix resident Rick Starr's phone has been out for two weeks. When he called for repairs, he was told he'll have to wait until Dec. 29 for an appointment.
He also said he had a lot of static on the phone line when he got on the Internet, so he got broadband instead.
"Why are we paying for phone service when we get complacent service," he said.
He said almost everyone calls on his cell phone, and with broadband, he doesn't really need a land-line.
These complaints appear to be just two of many. Another woman who was called to ask about her phone service said the repairman was due the next day. She didn't want to comment or have her named used for fear he then wouldn't show up.
Janette Millin Young, spokeswoman for Innovative Communication Corp , the phone company's parent corporation, said by e-mail that unusually wet and rainy weather during the last several months as well as a series of incidents contributed to delays.
She said that the phone company has had to deal with fires, lightning strikes, pulled down cables, dug up cables, and vehicles running over and destroying the facilities.
"These incidents have hampered our effort to make all repairs in a timely manner," she wrote.
She said the company has brought in additional manpower and resources.
"We feel confident the worst is behind us," she wrote.
In October alone, the Public Services Commission received 30 complaints about Innovative's phone service. A total of 24 of them had to do with poor or no phone service.
"Things are getting worse," PSC Director Keithley Joseph said.
Information provided by the PSC indicates that Innovative handled anywhere from 3,209 and 4,658 service orders a month between September 2004 and September 2005. They include installations, transfers, disconnects for nonpayment, removals for nonpayment, PIC changes, number changes, equipment change, and vacation rate requests.
In the period that ran from September 2004 to September 2005, Innovative got 173,179 calls from people across the Virgin Islands reporting they had trouble on their telephone lines. The company claims to have about 69,000 customers territory-wide.
Between January and September, a nine-month period, the St. Croix business office received 66,086 calls for service. It responded to 62,513 of them.
For the same period in St. Thomas/St. John, Innovative received 135,789 calls for service. It responded to 95,622 calls.
Callers also hung up before getting a response, Millin Young said. The total abandoned calls for St. Croix during the nine-month period was 5,190 and for St. Thomas, 40,351.
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