The lack of an efficient customer service response to the Optimum internet outage Monday night was remarkable in itself and for what it said about the overtaxed infrastructure on the East End in general.
Several attempts to contact the company for guidance just before 9 p.m. via phone and social media were unsuccessful. Optimum’s customer service line repeatedly disconnected calls after stating the company was experiencing high call volume and saying callers should check the website for further information. The company did not offer ideas on how to reach the website, and attempts to do so via mobile phone led very slowly to a home page that seemed designed only for television concerns. Tweeting at the company through direct messages and posts on its help page led to no response as well.
Except in emergency situations where access to the internet can be critical, an hourlong internet outage is merely an inconvenience. What is disconcerting, however, was Optimum’s inability to effectively communicate what the issue was, how widely spread, and when it might be fixed. A tweet announcing the problem 20 minutes after the internet service was restored was not encouraging, and a reply at 6:40 a.m. the following day to the initial message to its help account was comical.
The internet outage also underlined how miserable cell service is on the East End, and how thin it is, stretched by the population explosion in the summer. Three bars on Saturday means the same thing as one bar on Monday, and it is egregious that we’re not achieving full cell reception at either time.
East End residents pay the same amount for service as those who live UpIsland or in the city. It is time we asked, nay demanded, a more functional communications infrastructure, if not from the companies themselves, then from our local, county, state, and federal representatives. A rural population with very limited means of evacuation in an emergency requires it.