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One day after Bright House Networks' major outage, some Tampa Bay customers still complain of problems



brighthouse_stacked_tmsh.jpgWhen he returned home after his fourth tour of duty in Afghanistan earlier this year, the last thing Ken Cunningham thought he’d have to worry about was his cable TV service, Internet access or phone line.

But one day after Bright House Network’s massive service outage on Tuesday, the 59-year-old Army veteran was still calling their customer service line to get his Internet and telephone service restored, vowing to switch to rival Verizon FIOS at his earliest opportunity.

“It seems that they don’t always know what’s going on,” Cunningham said about the company’s customer service representatives, who he reached midday Wednesday after hours of attempts. “It’s frustrating because when there’s problems, you lose everything."

Bright House Networks struggled Tuesday with widespread service outages that affected customers throughout the Tampa Bay area, cutting off telephone services (including credit card verification machines), Internet access and cable TV, including transmissions of its cable newschannel, Bay News 9.

Spokesman Joe Durkin blamed the problems on a “software bug,” which began affecting systems around 10:40 a.m. Tuesday, including Bright House’s own phone lines. He declined to provide details on why the outage occurred and could not say how many of their 1-million customers in the Tampa Bay area were eventually affected, though the company said full service was restored by about 5 p.m. Tuesday.

But on Wednesday, customers like Cunningham were still complaining of service problems and difficulties getting through to operators on its customer service telephone lines.

bright-house-networks-image-2.jpgGeorge Harper said his 81-year-old mother lacked phone service into Wednesday evening at her home in Sun City Center. Eventually, Harper gave her a cellphone so she could reach someone in an emergency when repeated calls to Bright House customer service would not go through.

“These people don’t have any instructions on how to fix things and you can’t get through to ask questions, said an exasperated Harper, who went to a Bright House office on Falkenburg Rd. in Riverview Wednesday morning, but left because the line of customers waiting for help was too long.

At the Dolins Garden Center in St. Petersburg, owner Donald Prahl emailed the St. Petersburg Times in frustration Wednesday when he was unable to reach Bright House by telephone or email.

Prahl, who lives across the street from his business at 62nd Ave. North, had telephone service at home but no phones at his business. By 3 p.m. Wednesday, he had gotten a call from Bright House after a Times reporter alerted the company.

Prahl’s problem: He hadn’t rebooted the modem in his business when service was restored Tuesday. “We probably could have had service yesterday afternoon if someone would have just told us how to fix it,” said Prahl, who received a week of free service from Bright House for the inconvenience.

Bob Elek, a spokesman for rival Verizon FIOS said their call volume for new accounts jumped 10 percent since Tuesday. “We’re definitely hearing from people that they’re having problems getting through to Bright House customer service, even today,” Elek added. “They couldn’t get a real sense of what was going on.”

Durkin said Bright House was focusing on taking care of its customers, not the competition. “Our customers were inconvenienced and disrupted and for that we apologize,” he said. “We’ve also heard from customers who applauded our efforts...many were understanding and patient with us, because of their history with us.” 

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 7, 2011 7:30pm]


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