The Honolulu Star-Advertiser Kokua Line column
Feb 08, 2013 (The Honolulu Star-Advertiser - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Question: I have been without phone service in Kahaluu since early Friday, Jan. 25. We were promised by Hawaiian Telcom that they would send a repairman no later than Jan. 27, which they did.
But he said it was beyond his capability -- that the cable/line team would have to get to it the next day. Unfortunately, we were told via a call to our cellular phone Jan. 31 that because of "weather-related issues" we may not get landline service until Feb. 8. What happened to customer service
Question: Following heavy rain the weekend of Jan. 26, on Monday, Jan. 28, our landline phones had "Check tel Line" on the screens. After checking all our phones to ensure nothing was amiss, we called the Hawaiian Telcom repair line only to receive a recording and instructions for submitting an online trouble ticket and a voice message saying we would be contacted within 24 hours. Not hearing back Tuesday, I went online late that evening. After submitting my trouble ticket number, a message said there was a massive outage in my Mililani area that might take until Feb. 8 to resolve. Leaving it to us to track down the reason for the outage reflects poor customer service. If it's a massive outage, why didn't Hawaiian Telcom make a public announcement like other utility companies do
Answer: You both subsequently told us that your phones were back in service shortly after we contacted Hawaiian Telcom.
Prolonged bouts of wet weather, when water can damage underground and aerial cables, contributed to problems ranging from static to temporary loss of service, said spokeswoman Ann Nishida Fry.
"These issues will be remedied once the cables have dried thoroughly, but, sometimes more complex repair efforts are required," she said.
Nishida Fry said the company is "exhausting every available resource to complete repairs as quickly as possible," with technicians working overtime for several weeks to correct problems.
Regarding customer service: She said more staff has been added to the 24-hour service center. Still, some calls are taking longer.
Nishida Fry attributed that to service representatives spending more time with each customer to provide detailed updates, answer questions and set up services, such as call forwarding for those who have temporarily lost service.
Regarding the Feb. 8 repair dates: When the call volume is high, "repair commitment dates" are automatically extended to give workers time to respond, she said. "In most cases these dates are conservative and technicians can correct service interruptions sooner. In some cases, however, the problem may have to be handled by another specialist for various reasons, depending on the nature of the repair."
In either case, she apologized to those who have lost service and thanked you for your "patience and for providing us with feedback and the opportunity to respond."
WHY NO PUBLIC NOTICE WAS ISSUED
We asked why there was no public notice given, since problems appeared not to be isolated and for a prolonged period.
Basically, the answer is that Hawaiian Telcom is not a "single-product" utility, so it's harder to pinpoint how many people might be affected in any given area.
"Unlike other utilities that sell a single product, such as water, gas or power, Hawaiian Telcom offers a variety of services (e.g. voice, data, and TV in some areas on Oahu), which are routed differently throughout our network," Nishida Fry said.
Additionally, she said the disruptions might range from static to a loss of service; problems can be specific to one location or setup and can vary by the type of service, wiring inside a home or between the home and Hawaiian Telcom.
"This makes trouble-shooting more challenging and, therefore, more complicated for Hawaiian Telcom to provide a specific geographic area or number of customers affected when a situation arises," she said.
Instead of putting out a public notice, the company staffs the service center 24/7 to help customers "with any level of service disruption, and do their best to keep them updated and informed of the latest developments."
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