Helen Marie Plourde, an 86-year-old Minnesota resident, just spent over a month without home Internet and phone service because CenturyLink failed to fix a problem that began in July. From a report: CenturyLink didn’t show up for scheduled appointments at her home in Saint Paul, Plourde told Ars in a phone interview on Thursday, August 24, one day after the latest missed service appointment. Another appointment was scheduled for August 28, but she was skeptical that it would actually happen. “I’ll believe it when I see them,” Plourde said. Plourde buys broadband through Velocity Telephone, which resells CenturyLink fiber service in her area and acts as an intermediary between customers and CenturyLink for repairs. Velocity told us that it set up CenturyLink appointments for Plourde on August 10, August 17, and August 23, but no CenturyLink technicians showed up to any of the appointments.
We talked to Plourde after hearing from Amalia Deloney, whose parents live nearby. Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in Minneapolis, put Deloney in touch with us. “For the past month, [Plourde] has been going to my mom and dad’s house to use the Internet two times a day because hers went out and CenturyLink can’t be bothered fixing it. She’s ready to write letters to elected officials and the Utilities Commission out of desperation,” Deloney said. That didn’t end up being necessary because CenturyLink sprang into action after Ars contacted the company’s media relations team on Thursday night. A CenturyLink technician went to Plourde’s home on Friday morning and fixed a line problem on a nearby street, restoring her Internet and VoIP phone service. Velocity, the CenturyLink reseller, also offers its own fiber service on infrastructure it owns in parts of Minnesota, but not where Plourde lives. Comcast is the other option at Plourde’s house. She chose Velocity to support a local company.