Customer Service (Blizzard Edition)

Someone must have told companies that — before a major weather-related calamity — they should email their customers: “We might not be here for you. But we’ll try.”

CL&POur inboxes were stuffed yesterday. CL&P told us they were already bringing in extra line crews. My condo’s management firm said they expected lots of calls, so be patient (and watch out for snow and ice).

Cablevision offered this stop-the-presses piece of advice: “If you lose electrical power to your home, your Optimum services will not work.”

Meanwhile, Frontier — which in just a few short months has accomplished the nearly impossible task of making customers wish they had AT&T back — advised, “Make sure you have food supplies, water, flashlights and a battery powered radio in case you are unable to leave your home.”

Sage advice. Except the email arrived at 9:08 p.m. — long after the snow started, and 8 minutes after Governor Malloy’s travel ban went into effect.

This works in a power outage -- though you'd have to teach your kids how to use it.

This works in a power outage — though you’d have to teach your kids how to use it.

To give Frontier credit, they did offer information that many folks (including non-Frontier customers) might not know: Customers with cordless phones who still have a traditional cordless phone can plug it directly into a wall jack.

Corded phones do not require electricity. They’ll still operate during a power outage.

Of course, by 9:08 p.m. it was too late to buy a corded phone if you didn’t already own one.

But Frontier is Usain Bolt compared to CVS. At 10:03 p.m. last night, they breathlessly emailed me: “Dan, Snow is On The Way! Don’t wait! Get storm essentials & an emergency checklist.”

It was a little late for that. But in a pinch, I could call them on my corded phone.



10 responses to “Customer Service (Blizzard Edition)

  1. William Adler

    I received emails from various services and businesses saying that because of the storm they would be closed / or what I should do without their normal level of service. Among these was a refreshing message from the Yale Club that began the same way (“Because of the impending winter storm…”) but then proceeded to say they are bringing in extra staff to ensure that they WILL be fully operational to serve their members no matter the progression of the storm. Great customer service !!!

  2. Ernest Lorimer

    Surely the most meta line was in the Cablevision email. After noting that TV, internet and phone service would be down if power failed, they cheerily note “you can always go to”.

    Since TV broadcast signals don’t reach us anymore, the only source of local news in a power outage remains estimable Staples radio.

  3. Julie Van Norden

    Thoroughly enjoying your blizzard related posts! They are giving me enough chuckles to get through the absurdity.

  4. Bart Shuldman

    Does anyone know what CVS stands for? You would laugh.

  5. Sandy Soennichsen

    Ummmmm, lets see, if you did go out last night at 10 pm, sorry, no batteries, they were all gone by noon. Oh, Customer Value Stores.

  6. Sandy Soennichsen

    The one I really like is from Optimum if you call cause you have no service; often the message says due to the overload of calls, we can’t answer your questions right now, but if you go online to you can get info. Well lets see, I don’t have wi fi service, yeah, OK, I’ll get right on, what exit is that off of 95?

  7. Nina Streitfeld

    Unlike many Westporters, who were seduced into giving up their original copper wire AT&T phone landlines (some, unwittingly) for “bundled” wireless, I still have my original landline, which has performed in the past as an emergency lifeline when all other services failed during power losses. Now, with Frontier in charge also trying to sell its new Connecticut customers on switching to bundled services, I don’t know what the future will bring for the reliably lifesaving landline communication vehicle. It is my hope, with the support of our fire department, town officials, local and State legislators and the various commissions dealing with public utilities and safety, these landlines will continue to be maintained.
    Nina Streitfeld

  8. re the “only place to receive news” once the power is out – here’s what I do: subscribe to sources for emergency information on Twitter – it’s free and you can monitor it on your smart phone. Make a “channel” for yourself and only put the emergency feeds on it – things like @News12CT, @WestportPatch, @WestportNow, @GovMalloyOffice, @Connecticut_WX, @CTLightandPower and, most of all, @DanWoog !!!

    • Ernest Lorimer

      Yes, quite true. Nice idea about the channel. When the power goes out, the cell towers get so jammed that SMS and Twitter are the only reliable connections–until the batteries for the cell tower go out.

      But nothing compared to the long briefings from the fire chief carried over Staples radio in the week long power outages we’ve had.

      • Nina Streitfeld

        I am glad that you mentioned that the batteries in the cell towers have also failed in long-lasting power outages. Landline phone service is the only way to communicate in widespread power failures. (The phone companies have argued that “only old people and rural residents need the landlines.” Really?) Landlines are lifelines for millions of people. We should be doing all we can to persuade the powers that be to make sure those landlines are maintained.
        One day batteries or other gadgets will be invented that back up these newer, digital lines of communication indefinitely. The sooner the better.
        Furthermore, one day I hope the oil heating companies will invent a simple gadget that provides electric power safely to get heating systems going and keep them going in power failures. The current generators are tremendously expensive to buy and install and they run on gasoline or propane that are dangerous, too much so to keep inside buildings, and these fuels are also subject to not being available when supplies run out or their delivery trucks are unable to reach those buildings.