Last week the local Cape Bank branch was brought to its knees with a similar failure of a dedicated circuit to their centralized computer system.
These difficulties are not uncommon, and it's not hard to find people who will add their personal story of frustration and dissatisfaction. A common factor in these stories is the difficulty of communicating with Verizon to get problems resolved. First, when you call you get an automated menu that seeks to direct your call. In the case of the radio station, none of the choices were applicable because the problem was not with conventional telephone service, but with a dedicated circuit -- a leased line. There was no menu option for leased lines. The choices boiled down to getting new service, or providing the telephone number of the malfunctioning phone. The is no telephone number for a leased line, and Verizon offered no way to speak to a sentient being for help.
The radio station's chief engineer spent the better part of an hour trying to connect with someone at Verizon who knew enough about Verizon's own telephone business to know where to report a failure of the leased line. He was transferred from one clueless person to another until by chance he found someone who knew the correct number to call. The response was bureaucratic, slow, and frustrating. In the end they issued a work ticket promising that in due course someone would get around to it - probably the next day.
Contrast this with Comcast. Fed up with Verizon, WCFA's engineer called the cable company to explore using a dedicated internet connection to link studio and transmitter. His initial phone call connected him to an automated menu, but unlike the Verizon experience, he easily connected with a real live person. That person didn't know the answers to his questions, but she knew who did and remained on the line to be sure the call transferred properly. The second person understood what was wanted, discussed the matter intelligently, and offered to have a local sales engineer call to work out the technical requirements and provide a quote. The quote turned out to be less than half the monthly cost of the unsatisfactory Verizon service.
The difference in experiences was like night and day. Comcast has evidently learned from the sorry reputation that cable companies in general once shared for bad customer service and has fixed the worst of their problems. Now that they are competitive with traditional telecommunications carriers for both the phone and broadband service business, they are aggressively seeking it. But it probably will not be the quality of the technical infrastructure that wins the day in the competitive race -- it will be customer service. Dealing with Verizon is like dealing with the government bureaucracy; it is impersonal, lethargic, and frustrating. Unfortunately Verizon is not alone, many large companies have grown too big to provide good service, and unlike the government, there are competitive options. The big companies that learn to react promptly with personal service, like small companies do, will prevail.