West Valley Road resident frustrated by prolonged loss of phone service

Gary Kean
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A flag person controls traffic as Bell Aliant continued its work on West Valley Road Wednesday.

CORNER BROOK  Vivian Reid hasn’t run into any significant problems so far, but she is not at all happy she has been without phone service for the past week and a half.

The senior citizen lives on West Valley Road and was one of Bell Aliant’s customers impacted by a damaged phone cable.

The Western Star first reported on the problem Jan. 8, but Reid said she has not had phone service since Jan. 6.

There is a red light illuminated on her phone, but only a dead silence when she picks up the receiver.

Since her phone has been out, Reid has had to depend on neighbours to make important phone calls. In the past week, she has had to make an unexpected dentist appointment and order home heating fuel.

She has had friends — unaware her phone hasn’t been working — make the effort to come check on her after calling her repeatedly, only to get an incessant busy signal on their end.

Up until Wednesday, Reid had not heard anything from Bell Aliant directly. Crews from the phone company continued to work on the problem further down the street on West Valley Road.

“What upsets me is they haven’t come to me to let me know what’s going on or when they think I might get my phone back,” she said. “It’s unbelievable. You don’t realize how much you depend on your phone until you don’t have one.”

Reid is particularly concerned about needing to make a call in the event of an emergency.

Even having to leave her home to use a neighbour’s phone is a bit fo a concern.

“It wouldn’t be so bad if it was summertime, but it has been really icy out to be walking around,” she said.

None of Reid’s four sons still lives in Corner Brook. Her son Dave Reid lives in Ottawa and is also not pleased with how the phone company has handled the situation affecting his mom and others in her neighbourhood.

“We couldn’t get a hold of her and we had to get neighbours to go check on her just to make sure she was OK,” Reid said. “The least Bell could have done was given them all temporary cell phones, but they never even sent anybody to go visit them. Its inconceivable.”

Reid said not having a phone is not just a concern for older folks like his mother. Anyone, he noted, could experience an emergency at any time.

Initially, the problem with the phone cable — a piece of underground infrastructure Bell Aliant said malfunctioned after it got wet from high storm waters — impacted some 200 households. It also knocked out phone service to three of Western Health’s facilities, including Western Memorial Regional Hospital and the Corner Brook Long-Term Care centre, but phone service at those two buildings was restored within a day.

It took a few more days to restore the phones at the Hammond Building on West Valley Road, the third Western Health facility affected.

The number of private households impacted has since continued to drop, but Bell Aliant confirmed Wednesday that around 20 customers are still affected by “intermittent issues.”

No one from Bell Aliant was made available for an interview, but an emailed statement from Bell Aliant said the water damage was significant and resulted in a longer window for repair work than originally planned.

It could not say when the entire phone system would be back to normal, but hoped it would be soon.

“We encourage customers in the area to contact the Bell Aliant repair line at 611 to report service issues and we will work with them to correct the problem as soon as possible,” stated the email. “We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused and are working hard to complete the final repairs.”

Bell Aliant encouraged its customers to use a cellphone or a neighbour’s phone if they need to call 611.

“We encourage any customer experiencing a service issue to contact us directly, so we can deal with each situation individually,” stated the email.

Organizations: Bell Aliant, Western Memorial Regional Hospital, Hammond Building

Geographic location: West Valley Road, CORNER BROOK, Western Star Ottawa

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Recent comments

  • Dave
    January 16, 2014 - 09:00

    Mrs. Reid phone was restored this morning. Thank you, Gary, for the story. Nice to see the power of the press in action.

  • Jack
    January 16, 2014 - 06:30

    When I heard about a Corner Brook area woman waiting a long time to get phone service back, it comes to no surprise. Bell Aliant has a terrible reputation for service restoration when service is down. In fact, nearly two years ago, when parts of the Bay of Islands lost internet service, it took nearly an entire day to restore it. With major telecom networks controlling 85% of the Canadian Market, but provide unreliable service, now we know why competition is needed other than Rogers and Bell.