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Cable problems from ice storm still linger for few

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Nearly two weeks after an ice storm cut power and cable service for thousands of residents across metro Augusta, Katie Howell is among the few waiting for cable and Internet service to be restored.

The National Hills resident lost both power and cable on Feb. 12. She regained electricity three days later, but a fallen limb that was pulled off the cable line from her home has left the household without Comcast service.

In the following days, Howell has grown increasingly frustrated with the outage. She and her husband have made 10 phone calls to Comcast, one of which took about three hours, Howell said.

The Howells were first advised by employees of the cable company that they didn’t need an appointment, only to later be told that one was necessary. They’ve also experienced no-shows from workers after being told to expect someone within a 12-hour time span.

“I know it’s a luxury, but I pay for it every month to be able to watch TV,” Howell said. “The most inconvenient thing about it is that my daughter’s reading through school is done online, so that’s been an issue because we don’t have an Internet connection.”

About 99 percent of local Comcast customers who experienced outages from the ice storm are back with service, said the company’s vice president of public relations for the Big South Region, Alex Horwitz, adding that customers in North Augusta remain the most affected.

Horwitz said the “vast majority” of cases involve customers who lost power during the storm and noted that Comcast is working closely with power companies to bring people online soon after they regain power.

“It’s a tiny fraction of folks that are still offline, but again those are the result of the power being out,” he said. “The city did suffer a huge amount of damage from the storm so it’s really a neighborhood-by-neighborhood thing, with some getting the storm worse than others. Service was restored pretty quickly to the majority of customers immediately after the storm. Obviously the final number of folks are being addressed at this stage.”

Horwitz said he was unable to disclose how many local customers have been affected by outages from the storm or how many remain without service, other than to say that less than 1 percent of customers are now affected.

Horwitz said he understands some customers’ frustration with the process but added that Comcast had extra crews on standby to address any outages immediately after the storm.

Although Horwitz didn’t know off-hand the number of additional employees brought in for assistance, he said “multiple crews” came in from South Carolina, Florida and other parts of Georgia.

“Unfortunately, it’s the impact of the storm that comes in and has that sweeping effect,” he said. “We do everything we can to get people back up and running as soon as possible because we understand that these are important services. In this case, there are still a few outliers that are still waiting to be addressed.”

Service provided through WOW! Internet, Cable and Phone that had been disrupted by the ice storm took about a week-and-a-half to fully resolve, said company vice president and general manager Abu Khan.

Khan said the storm caused about 16 miles of downed cable across the area that was either rebuilt or replaced by last Thursday.

Through the weekend, crews worked to field “a few” calls from customers without service who’d recently regained power, he said.

Khan said WOW! brought in about 60 contractors and in-house employees from as far away as Chicago to assist in restoration efforts. He said it’s still too early to gauge how many customers were affected by outages but said the Hill section was the hardest hit locally.

“It’s extremely disruptive,” he said. “It’s certainly not something we want to see very often.”

OFF THE AIR

In Wrens, Ga., a Georgia Public Broadcasting tower was damaged Feb. 13 from falling ice. WCES-TV 20 remained off the air for 4.6 million local viewers until last Saturday as new equipment was installed on the tower, said Georgia Public Broadcasting spokeswoman Mandy Wilson.

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Junket103
452
Points
Junket103 02/26/14 - 07:10 am
5
0
Give Me A Break!

At the highly inflated rates cable customers pay for "service" the response to this emergency event, particularly from Comcast, was pitiful. While Georgia Power brought in an army of workers to restore power within a few days to the area, the cable companies, again particularly Comcast, had skeleton crews. Even worse, Their own policy of having separate crews for different tasks, and not having enough crews, prolonged the restoration by days. An example of this was evident early on. The contractor crews from Atlanta that repaired the cable at the pole, could not connect the lines from the individual houses that were also down. Even more frustrating was the help centers (many of which are off shore). They could provide little in the way of information. Appointments for a technician were scheduled only to be broken without the curtesy of a call. Even worse, when the customer calls back to find out what happened you are told the visit was completed according to their records! These companies have the money to take care of this problem within hours or even days. But they have to spend it, which they are unwilling to do. As much money as they make they could hire the teams needed and improve customer service so that they can specialize in entertainment not aggravation for the customer.

zeenab4u
118
Points
zeenab4u 02/26/14 - 08:08 am
3
0
Give me a break also!!

Both Comcast and AT&T (2 big bucks companies) let the customers down and gave the runaround. I was planning to be understanding because of the storm but after many calls and appointments that they never showed up for I got frustrated and angry. And when the appointment was for this past Saturday, I waited, never showed, I called and was told they came and signed off as fixed, really angry. I was at the comcast office on Friday, many comcast trucks on the lot. Why were they not out fixing problems. Talked to many folks off shore also, just once would have liked to talk to someone in AMERICA!! After all this, I am calm and settled because I called WOW - got to talk to someone local and after Comcast and AT&T fix my problem, they will be dropped... but only after they do what I paid way too much money for...

jimmymac
45160
Points
jimmymac 02/26/14 - 08:18 am
0
0
CABLE
Unpublished

Atlantic Broadband was just as lax in getting Aiken TV, Internet and Phone service back online. Obviously they didn't plan on spending extra money for repairs like the electric companies did. I hope many will so as I am and drop them fro satellite service. At least I'll have TV!

bright idea
860
Points
bright idea 02/26/14 - 10:03 am
0
1
Pay in advance

Isn't Comcast a pay in advance service? At least when the power was out the meter wasn't spinning.

GiantsAllDay
10231
Points
GiantsAllDay 02/26/14 - 10:19 am
1
0
First World problems.

First World problems.

itsanotherday1
46670
Points
itsanotherday1 02/26/14 - 11:48 am
2
0
I have an elderly friend in

I have an elderly friend in National Hills that still doesn't have telephone or cable. He told Comcast to shove it and I am trying to help him get hooked up with a digital antenna for local reception.

zeenab4u
118
Points
zeenab4u 02/26/14 - 12:09 pm
1
2
GiantsAllDay

If you are trying to minimize our problem by pointing out that there are bigger problems in the world, you need to go post on one of those articles.. This subject is well becoming a big problem in the world. It's about the almighty dollar being more important than the guy who works for it and pays for a service. That a PROBLEM.
It's about the rich getting richer off the workers... Go post your remarks somewhere else, maybe you can do some good there!!

TrulyWorried
16003
Points
TrulyWorried 02/26/14 - 02:05 pm
0
0
Comcast problem

I also had several go arounds with this company - and that since 2-14.
A world without cable is not nearly as serious as not having a landline connection per phone. Comcast lost me as a customer yesterday - I managed to speak to REAL Americans but the 6th person I talked to in one session had to accept my cancelation and gave me the amount I will be credited. Finished that problem, for good. Maybe more people should let these companies know that we pay them and don't need to be at their mercy as they see fit. There are other alternatives.

sand gnat
629
Points
sand gnat 02/26/14 - 04:52 pm
0
0
No Relief

No relief in sight with the Comcast wait. I too have spent hours on the phone, gotten disconnected after getting a live person on the phone,
received promise after promise, been assigned ticket numbers and even been told to contact them on line. What a joke. Finally had to buy
a 4G hot spot from my cell provider to get internet. I too will wait until Comcast delivers. At that time, like thousands of others in the area, I will change my service to WOW. Getting tired of imposing on my neighbors with WOW to get my TV and sports fix.

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