Tag Archives: Cablevision

Unsung Heroes #251

A couple of area businesses have come in for some harsh criticism on “06880” lately: Hook’d (the Compo Beach and Longshore concessionaire), and Optimum (the communications near-monopoly).

Other readers have other beefs, like Main Street stores that leave their doors open in the middle of summer, blasting wasteful air conditioning onto the sidewalk in hopes of luring customers, and banks that cut hours and services (but raise fees).

Many complaints are legitimate. But they should not be directed at front-line workers.

The teenagers behind the Hook’d counter do not set opening and closing hours, or decide whether or not to offer sauerkraut.*

The cable guy who arrives sometime between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. is not responsible for scheduling policies, or for the amount of training he undergoes before he is launched on his own.

The young people working in stores with wide-open doors are embarrassed at and angered by corporate demands. And the bank teller no doubt earns less when Saturday hours are eliminated.

On the front lines at Hook’d. (File photo/Dan Woog)

It’s easy to take out our frustrations on the workers we see. They are the public face of private companies.

But they’re not the problem. Their bosses — so high up the food chain, they no doubt work from home (or the beach) — are.

So, to all the hard-working workers, young and middle-aged and old, who have felt our wrath this summer (and bite their tongues, rather than reply):

Thank you. We’re sorry. We know it’s not your fault.

And — if it’s any consolation — you are our “06880” Unsung Heroes of the Week.

*Hook’d does not. 

(If you know an Unsung Hero, email 06880blog@gmail.com)

(Unsung Heroes is one of “06880”‘s regular features. To support this one — and everything else we do — please click here.)

Roundup: Albert Pizzirusso, Sidewalks, Optimum,


Albert Pizzirusso, a longtime Westport resident and owner of A&S Fine Foods in Westport and Stamford, died Sunday. He was 46

The Yonkers, New York native graduated from The Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park. He became chef at legendary restaurants, including the Rainbow Room, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and others. 

At the Rainbow Room he impressed Julia Child with his dedication. He was the only person in the kitchen who did not stop working when she entered. She noted that that commitment and focus proved he had what takes to go into business for himself. She was right.

Albert combined his love of Italian culture, great food and old school “let me make you an espresso” traditional service in his businesses, with quality of service and offerings from a bygone era.

He added value to his community through great generosity to local charities and organizations.

He is survived by his wife Patricia, with whom he ran A&S Fine Foods for 2 decades; parents Agnes and Angelo; brothers Mario (his twin), and Michael; sister-in-law Laura; nephews Matthew and Eric, and his beloved Yorkie, Eddie.

Due to current restrictions, services will limited to family and close friends. A lover of celebrating just about anything, a Celebration of Life will be held in his honor in Westport this summer.

Memorial contributions may be made in his name to the Connecticut Humane Society in Westport.

Albert Pizzirusso


On Sunday, Carole Schweid noted that the Treadwell/Riverside/Saugatuck Avenue intersection in front of Riverside Barber Shop had not been shoveled.

That spurred Robbie Guimond — owner of Bridgebrook Marina, across the street — into action. He was happy to help.

Ta-da! Here’s what the sidewalk looked like yesterday. Thanks, Robbie!

(Photo/Carole Schweid)


For years, Optimum/Altice has had a monopoly on cablevision services throughout the area.

A new group — the Tristate Coalition for Fair Internet Service — is working on legal challenges through the New York State Attorney General’s office, and promoting alternate providers. They’re also collecting data on customer experiences with the longtime cable service.

Click here for details.


Connect-Us Academy is a great Bridgeport-based after-school program that helps young people ages 16 to 21 cultivate professional business skills.

This Thursday (February 18, 4:30 p.m.), they welcome a new class. Students will share their experiences, and their excitement at what’s aheda.

Westporter Rich Eldh — co-founder emeritus of SiriusDecisions will deliver a keynote address. Click here to watch via Zoom.

Richard Eldh


Valentine’s Day is gone. But love remains in the air.

And in cyberspace.

Play With Your Food’s performance of “Love Notes” — an evening of thought-provoking play readings and stories — is available online for a limited time.

Click here for the selections: “I Was Fine Until You Came Into the Room,” “My Life in France,” “Bar Mitzvah Boy,” “Love Poems for Married People” and “The Diaries of Adam and Eve,” followed by a talkback with the director and cast.

For more Play With Your Food information click here; follow on Facebook (@PWYFood) or Instagram (@playwithyourfoodct), or call 203-293-8729.

The Play With Your Food cast.


As we slog through mid-February, Lou Weinberg provides a burst of color — and a reminder that spring is only 32 days away:

Female cardinal (Photo/Lou Weinberg)


And finally … on this day in 1923, Howard Carter unsealed the burial chamber of Pharaoh Tutankhamun.

News12 Now “As Local As New Jersey Gets”

Cablevision has a funny way of “more effectively and consistently” delivering “high-quality hyper-local news” to Fairfield County viewers.

They’ve gotten rid of the guy who did it for more than 3 decades, and replaced him with someone 2 states away.

The familiar face of Tom Appleby.

Tom Appleby — the steady pro who guided area residents through hurricanes and blizzards; reported on murders, budget battles, zoning issues and lost pets, and since 1984 has been the face of News12 for countless local residents — is the most prominent victim of Cablevision’s new owner’s cost-cutting measures.

In addition to shutting a call center in Shelton and back-office operation in Stratford — affecting 600 jobs — new owner Altice has moved nearly all News12 production work from Norwalk to Edison, New Jersey. Only a skeleton staff of reporters and videographers remains on Norwalk’s Cross Street.

Appleby was more than a familiar news anchor. He served as Cablevision’s vice president, general manager and news director. He helped win many awards, including numerous Emmys.

Appleby is a true pro. A Dartmouth grad — with a master’s and Ph.D. in English language and literature from the University of Michigan — he also hosted a weekend public affairs show, “Focus on Connecticut.”

News12 has served as a valuable proving ground for countless reporters and anchors, just starting their careers. Many have moved on to bigger stations, far beyond Fairfield County.

But through 6 presidents since the Reagan Administration — or, more locally, throughout the terms of 1st selectmen Bill Seiden, Martha Hauhuth, Doug Wood, Joe Arcudi, Diane Farrell, Gordon Joseloff and Jim Marpe — Tom Appleby has been there for us.

He never left for a larger market. He reported stories, delivered news, mentored talent, and — most importantly — cared deeply about all of Fairfield County, and everyone in it.

Now Cablevision has left him.

And left the rest of us with an empty slogan: “As local as local news gets.”

Delivered from right around the corner, in Edison, New Jersey.

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.



Really, Cablevision?!

Last night, I was one of more than 700 Westport customers who lost power, because it was windy.

It was restored about 3 hours later (thanks, CL&P!).

When I got home this afternoon, there was a voicemail from Cablevision. My internet should be working, they told me — not that it was their fault, they added — but if it wasn’t, I should try to reboot.

And if I didn’t know how to do that, I should just go to www.Optimum.net.

I checked the date. Today is October 23.

Not April 1.

Cablevision logo


Cablevision: $4 And Change

I’m willing to do a lot for my “06880” readers.

Waiting on the phone for Cablevision to answer is, unfortunately, not one of them.

So I don’t know if this email from an alert reader is true or not. But it’s worth passing on:

Cablevision will give a $4-and-change rebate for last night’s service outage. It requires staying on the phone and probably calling again when the bill comes, but it is sooo worth it for the aggravation it gives them.

Call 203-847-6666. But don’t tell ’em Dan sent you.

An average Cablevision customer in Westport, last night.

An average Cablevision customer in Westport, last night.

The Bad News: Cablevision Is Down Across Connecticut

The good news: At least we have electricity.

Cablevision logo

Lost In Cyberspace

It’s my own fault for calling Cablevision about my email account on a weekend.

But a while ago — solving another issue — a technician told me that my “Optimum account” was not linked to my “Optimum ID.” He said that, to avoid a problem in the future, I should take care of that little issue.

Which I did last Saturday, around 4 p.m.

The process went swimmingly.

Until it didn’t.

Suddenly — in mid-linkage — the tech support guy could not seal the deal. Something had happened in cyberspace, he said, and it would have to be solved by someone higher up.

Unfortunately, those people did not work weekends.

However, the tech guy assured me chirpily, he was sure it would be taken care of. In 2 to 3 days. That is, “business days.” Meaning, oh, 4 days from then.

Until then, also unfortunately, I would not have access to email.

For someone who fields 200 or so emails a day — many of them business-related — this was not good.

In fact, this was very, very bad.

I asked to speak to a supervisor. The tech guy gladly got rid of me connected me to one.

Me, if I weighed 150 pounds more than I do.

This man — his name was Akinola — was sympathetic. Still, he said — I could almost see him shaking his head — this issue would unfortunately not be resolved this weekend. He understood that I was a loyal Cablevision customer — I was among the 1st dozen or so cable modem subscribers, when such a thing came to Westport around 1997, and I’ve been a cable TV customer since 1983 — but this was beyond his control. The best he could do was make sure it was taken care of early on Monday.

I asked to speak to his supervisor.

Which is when Stacie Serrano entered my life.

She understood the problem. She understood that Cablevision bore some responsibility for screwing up a relatively simple operation in midstream. She understood that I was angry, frustrated, anxious, and not a happy camper.

And — you don’t find this often in customer service stories — she set about to help.

I don’t know how she did it, but she found someone who — though this was not a “business day” — was actually working. Then — instead of just handing the case off to someone who may or may not have cared — she kept on him.

Me, at 10 p.m. Saturday.

And — are you sitting down? — Stacie called back several times to update me on Cablevision’s progress. So too did my new friend, Akinola.

By 10 p.m., the problem was solved. My account and ID number were now, apparently, linked. More importantly, I once again had access to email.

Well, most of it. Anything sent between 4 and 10 p.m. Saturday was apparently lost in cyberspace. I was assured it would turn up soon in Cablevision’s lost-and-found.

So this is one of those rare stories: the consumer equivalent of snow in October (it happens). This is a public thank-you to Cablevision, for outstanding customer service. And a hug — through the interwebs — to Stacie Serrano.

PS: 24 hours later, my missing emails came through. Well, most of them, anyway.

Don’t Call Us; We’ll Call You

The amount of mail I get has dropped dramatically in the past few years.  That’s one small reason why the Westport post office is moving from an actual building downtown to half of a former day spa in a shopping center.

In fact, if it wasn’t for AT&T and Cablevision, I wouldn’t get any mail at all.

I’ve been a valuable customer of both behemoths for years.  I pay my bills on time — and they are not unsubstantial amounts.

A sampling of mail from the past couple of months.

But like clockwork — at least once a week — they send me stuff.  Not only is the message the same — add services!  pay more! — but sometimes it is the exact same letter I threw away the previous week.

It’s like they were little children, who think that by repeating the same message over and over and over and over, they will get their way.

Here’s my response:  Stop mailing me crap.  I am not interested in being upsold.  Please take whatever it costs to send me weekly mailings, and credit it to my bill.  Then I will know I truly am a “valued customer.”

Dianne Wildman Burns Bids Goodbye

For decades, TV stations grudgingly followed FCC regulations about offering editorial opinions.  They were delivered at midnight by male general managers, uncomfortably discussing obscure subjects.

When President Reagan deregulated the industry, stations happily junked their editorials.

Cablevision is one of the few networks in the country that’s kept the tradition alive — in its own way.  For the past 13 years, its editorials were delivered by a very attractive woman.  Hired for that specific role, she spoke intelligently and strongly on a broad array of important topics.

Earlier this month, Dianne Wildman Burns retired.  In a television landscape filled with celebrity gossip, shouting political pundits and “reality” garbage, she will be sorely missed.

Dianne Wildman Burns

Dianne is a true pro.  After grad school in UCLA and a stint in the Peace Corps, she landed a job in radio.  KNBC-TV liked her news-writing style — and with 19 men and no women on staff, they were desperate to avoid a license challenge.  They hired her quickly.

Dianne served as an NBC News correspondent in the US and London.  She married writer/TV commentator Eric Burns, had 2 children, and worked in the Clinton White House press office.

After the Burnses moved to Westport, she joined Cablevision.  Every Wednesday and Friday, she delivered editorials.

She covered every topic.  Transportation, Long Island Sound, veterans, the homeless, the economy, crime, good news — you name it, Dianne did it.

Though she commented often on government bureaucracies and decisions, she did not swing blindly.  “People work very hard in government, and they don’t get credit for it,” she says.  “It’s easy to criticize one headline, but they labor every day.  It’s a slog.  They’re very devoted.”

Dianne adds, “I tried not to just zing.  I looked for ways to improve policy.  It’s not just about one snarky comment.”

Her favorite subjects are “anything with kids, and anything about Bridgeport.”  Youngsters are our future; as for the city, it’s “so complex,” she says.  “And I’m fascinated with its evolution from an industrial city to what it is today.”

She calls her job “wonderful,” because the focus was intensely local.  People — politicians, local citizens, folks she knows and complete strangers — reacted to nearly everything she said.

The most vociferous feedback came when she talked about highway tolls.  “The piece was just about thinking about them,” she laughs.  “But a whole lot of people told me how misinformed I was.”

Her viewers, she says, were a microcosm of Fairfield County. “They’re funny, smart, sharp and kind.  They always tried to help me understand their lives.”

Unlike a general reporter, she had time to talk with them.  And many took time to thank her for her editorials.

She wrote and delivered about 1,500, since 1998.  She came up with ideas, framed them — and made sure there were visuals and graphics to accompany them.  “Writing to pictures” was one of the hardest parts of her job.

Oh, yeah:  Each editorial had to clock in between 95 and 100 seconds in length.

In her final piece earlier this month,  Dianne said she’d been blessed with a great career.

Now she’s on to her next adventure.

“I’ve been a journalist all my life,” Dianne notes.  “I’ve loved doing this.  But journalists are by definition observers.  I might want to participate now a bit more — do something beyond just watching.”

And, she says, “I’d love to do it outside — away from a desk!”

(Click here for Dianne’s “goodbye” editorial — and an archive of others.)

Dianne Wildman Burns, in a familiar pose.