Little Town Prevails Over Large Cell Service Company

2 years 5 months 3 weeks ago November 03, 2013 Nov 3, 2013 Sunday, November 03 2013 Sunday, November 03, 2013 4:35:00 PM CST in News
By: India Everett, KOMU 8 Reporter

HARRISBURG - AT&T cell service issues in Harrisburg are now mostly or completely fixed, according to customers in the town.

The improved service comes after a lengthy process to get the problem addressed.

Residents say, starting August 8, cell service would go out for anywhere from a few minutes to multiple days at a time. 

KOMU 8 News responded to an email tip from a resident and broke the story on cell outages during a newscast on September 30.

AT&T customers in the town said they had been calling the company but the only response from AT&T Customer Care was the offer of vouchers for lost service.

Vickie Spry has five AT&T lines for her family. She said the cell service has been going down intermittently for about three months. She's called AT&T to fix the problem in the past.

"Every time I call [AT&T] I have to wait an hour, sometimes more, to even talk to someone."

She said she thinks the wait time has deterred more people from calling. Spry was offered $30 by AT&T for her lost service, she said with five phones on the line, that didn't cover all the lost cell use.

Other residents said the outages were an inconvenience as well as a safety issue. Collin McBride is an AT&T customer in Harrisburg. Although he said his experience with the company has been good, he worried about the consequences of not being able to make calls.

"We had a student here last week, who got in a really bad car accident. Luckily, service was up at that time, but had it not been, it could've turned into something really bad. We have a lot of elderly here, too, who rely on their phones."

AT&T responded to KOMU 8 News with this statement on September 30:

"AT&T customers in Harrisburg may have experienced issues with wireless service during several days in September, including Monday morning. Technicians worked to resolve each issue and service in Harrisburg is currently running normally. We are closely monitoring the network, and apologize for this inconvenience."

However, the next day, a resident from Harrisburgh contacted KOMU 8 News again. He said that cell service had been out all that night, despite AT&T's statement claiming service was "currently running normally."

After continued complaints from residents, the president of Missouri AT&T contacted the Harrisburg City Council. 

On October 4, the City Clerk, Kathy Wilhite, posted a letter around town reading:

"OCTOBER 4, 2013

ATTENTION AT&T CUSTOMERS.....

I HAVE BEEN CONTACTED BY THE MISSOURI PRESIDENT OF AT&T CONCERNING THE PROBLEMS THEY HAVE BEEN EXPERIENCING WITH THE HARRISBURG TOWER.

AT&T IS WORKING WITH CENTURYLINK ON COME AND GO PRROBLEMS WITH THE LINE THAT FEEDS THE CELL TOWER. IT IS A CENTURYLINK LINK THAT LEADS TO THE TOWER AND IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO LOCATE THE PROBLEM. AT&T WANTS YOU TO BE ASSURED THAT THEY WILL STAY WITH IT UNTIL THE PROBLEM IS FOUND AND FIXED. 

IF YOU HAVE ANY FURTHER QUESTIONS, YOU CAN CONTACT ME AT ***-***-**** OR ***-***-**** AND I CAN PUT YOU IN TOUCH WITH SOMEONE AT AT&T. AT&T THANKS YOU FOR YOUR PATEINCE.

KATHY WILHITE

CITY CLERK

TOWN OF HARRISBURG"

Wilhite said she had only experienced cell problems for a few days at a time herself.

On October 9, AT&T responded to questions from KOMU 8 News with another statement:

"Due to a software issue, some wireless customers in the Harrisburg area may have experienced intermittent service issues. The issue has been resolved and service is currently running normally. We know customers count on their wireless services, and we apologize for this inconvenience."

However, that same day, a resident of Harrisburg said the cell problems were still happening and he wanted them fixed.

A KOMU 8 News reporter passed along contact information for AT&T.

He said, soon after contacting AT&T through a route different than Customer Care, the company was sending out a technician from St. Louis and some local technicians from Century Link. 

On October 12, residents said that the major outages had been fixed and that smaller outages that were a couple minutes in length would still happen five to six times per day.

On October 16, residents said that the outages had mosty or completely been fixed. 

The AT&T outages reportedly stemmed from landlines connecting the tower to Century Link and venders testing equipment. 

KOMU 8 News will continue to monitor the status of cell service in Harrisburg.

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