Warwick to get AG involved with phone service issue

  • Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

Recorder Staff
Wednesday, January 03, 2018

WARWICK — The Selectboard has decided enough is enough with faulty phone service from Verizon, voting Tuesday to get the Attorney General’s Office involved.

According to Selectboard Chairman Lawrence “Doc” Pruyne, the Selectboard voted to have Town Counsel Jeremia Pollard take legal action against Verizon, hoping to ultimately reach a plan of remediation by filing a complaint with the state Attorney General’s Office.

Pollard was previously involved in reaching a settlement agreement between Verizon and the towns of Hancock, Egremont and Leverett in 2010.

The vote came following four days of crossed lines over Christmas weekend, with some residents not having any service at all. The incident, however, was the last straw for the Selectboard following years of spotty landline service.

“My feeling is this has been going on a long time,” Pruyne said. “It’s gotten to the point where it’s way out of hand. Something’s gotta be done.”

In the case of the 2010 lawsuit filed by Hancock, Egremont and Leverett due to loss of service, lengthy litigation resulted in Verizon needing to file quarterly compliance reports with both the Attorney General’s Office and Department of Telecommunications and Cable, the settlement reads. Reports would include repair work completed that quarter, the input of an outside team of people with appropriate technical experience, why and how Verizon determined what work to do, and the work planned for the coming quarter.

Additionally, Verizon was required to issue monthly service quality reports to both offices for two years, with ratings on seven metrics including its network trouble report rate, problems cleared within 24 hours and appointments missed.

Before the settlement was reached, the Department of Telecommunications and Cable opened an investigation “regarding the reasonableness of Verizon Massachusetts’ telephone service quality,” holding hearings in Northampton and Boston, the settlement reads.

Town Coordinator David Young said he suspects Pollard will involve the Department of Telecommunications and Cable with Warwick’s phone service problems as well.

Given Pollard’s experience with the previous settlement, Pruyne said “Verizon would not like to see him coming.”

Lacking reliable service over the holidays, Pruyne said, when a large number of people are trying to reach their families, was particularly frustrating for the Warwick community. The phone troubles also posed a public safety risk, he continued, during “a dangerous time of year.”

“That makes this a high priority for the town to address,” Pruyne said.

Highway Superintendent Larry Delaney explained that during the Christmas-weekend storm, he had no phone service at his home, making it difficult for residents to reach him with roadway problems.

“To make a call, I had to come up here to Town Hall and use my cell phone,” Delaney said, eventually figuring out which resident he needed to call to reach another due to the crossed lines.

Though phone service was restored in four days, at least two residents were reporting issues again by early evening on Dec. 26, the same day the problems were resolved.

“I don’t see our phone situation improving drastically,” Young said.

Reach Shelby Ashline at: sashline@recorder.com

413-772-0261, ext. 257