So this past Tuesday, Hurricane Isaias tore through my area. Torrential rain, then some ridiculously high winds did a ton of damage. I lost power around 2:30pm on Tuesday, 10 minutes later I lost Internet. Lately, outages in my town are fairly common, at least once a week it drops. My provider, Orange & Rockland has excellent communication.
Via their website, their app, or their number, I can report the outage and check on the status. Their restoration estimates are generally accurate, and repair efforts are completed rather quickly. Sure they have many automated communication features, but they’re all very accurate. Their outage map is also a great tool where anyone can see just how things are.
I’ve used Optimum Online for 10 years now. 200Mbps of bandwidth costs me roughly $107 a month… no television, no phones, just internet. I cut the cord 10 years ago and haven’t looked back. Now it used to be that one could call in regard to the price and complain, and a simple threat to change providers would get a better deal.
After going online and seeing that new customers got twice the bandwidth for half the price (and still paid less than me after the deal expired), I decided to call and see if I could get a better deal. The normally jovial folks in retention were now difficult and argumentative. They couldn’t help with the price. They couldn’t help with the speed. They did nothing for me.
Then Covid happened. I was less concerned with price than I was with a solid stable connection that would allow me to reliably work from home. Any outages were brief, and expected when my electrical service was interrupted. I’d get an email when the outages was detected, and another when it was restored. Nothing special.
Then Isaias hit. I still had to work from home and do my job. Cell reception out here in Pine Island is horrible to begin with. I found my only real option was to place my cellphone in my upstairs bathroom window, toggle airplane mode, hope I got a single bar of 4G, and use it as a hotspot. If my phone was horizontal, I’d get .3 Mbps. Vertical? 2-3Mbps. It got the job done.
Still, it was hit or miss to use my cellphone. I spent some time each day at the Tuscan Cafe in Warwick, or even over at the PLAV next door which uses Warwick DSL (that never dropped). Right now I’m posting this over that 4G LTE connection, according to Verizon I’ve used 7GB out of 15GB, at that point the speed will get limited to 600Kbps. Not gonna work.
I’ve had zero Internet service from Optimum for 5 days now. That alone is bad enough, but what is worse is Optimum’s completely inadequate communication on the problem. Any call results in a generic automated message. Getting an actual human being on the phone takes hours of hold time, and their estimates of restoration have been wrong every time.
Nothing on the website but generic messages. Nothing on their Facebook page but generic messages. Hundreds of complaints from customers all complaining about the outage, most pointing out the lack of communication as a major problem. For me? I can mitigate the outage. First by using my cellphone, and second by ordering DSL from a competitor.
The thing here is, I don’t believe I’d be as quick to complain or even switch if they had better communication. Even if they had a message up saying that my area wouldn’t have connectivity for a week, I’d feel a bit better. They don’t. It’s 2020. Much of the workforce relies on their service to do their job. This lack of communication will cost them dearly.
I’ll be making an appointment with Warwick Valley Telephone Company to install DSL at my home, then I’ll cancel Optimum. 75Mbps for $30 for a year. It’s less bandwidth, but more reliable, and they’re also rolling out gigabit service eventually. I could care less about Netflix or Facebook right now, I need to connect to my job and earn a living.