Verizon Phone and Internet Outages Plague Upper West Side

By Emily Frost on February 14, 2014 5:45pm 

UPPER WEST SIDE — Verizon phone and internet outages have been plaguing the Upper West Side — leaving residents without phones and businesses unable to take customers' calls or use their computers to ring up credit cards, they said.

Residents and businesses on Broadway near West 102nd Street lost phone and internet on Feb. 7, and Verizon officials said they won't be able to restore them before Feb. 20 at the earliest, owners complained.

A Verizon spokesman explained that a "bad copper cable" was to blame and that the company had received 12 reports of lost service. The company would not disclose how many of the reports came from residents compared to businesses.

"These storms don’t help the situation," said spokesman John Bonomo, who noted that Verizon was providing wireless devices and forwarding calls to alternate numbers.

The provider has said it is the process of installing fiber wiring across all five boroughs.

Mary Reilly, co-owner of the French restaurant PicNic on Broadway between West 102 and 103rd streets, said she's had to resort to requesting that customers pay with cash or jot down their credit card information to call in later because her credit card machines can't operate without an online connection.

"When people have come in, some people have gone to a cash machine and said forget it," said Reilly, adding that the the wireless device provided by Verizon wasn't working. "Some people are reluctant to give us their credit card because they think some busboy could steal the number."

Reilly had to resort to checking the company email on her home computer to communicate with customers.

"I think this is a case of companies not properly dealing with their infrastructure. They don’t spend the money until they actually go out," she said, estimating she's lost hundreds of dollars as a result of the outage so far.

In addition, she said, Verizon still hit her with a $450 bill dated Feb. 12 that she plans to refuse to pay.

The Broadmoor, a co-op on Broadway at W. 102nd Street which also uses Verizon, was also experiencing outages, building staff said.

"I have 30 apartments that don’t have phone," said Jaime Zabala, a doorman at the 345-unit building. 

The Verizon outages are nothing new. Early last month, more than 100 homes in the area around West 89th Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway went a week without service, according to Verizon. 

Peter Arndtsen, district manager for the Columbus Amsterdam BID, said internet and phone service is "critical for businesses in our neighborhood.

"They have people calling to check on hours and availability — with this weather in addition, there’s periodic concerns of whether restaurants are even open."

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