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Anger simmers among AT&T customers without service

August 17, 2011|By Maria Hsin and Jason Wells, maria.hsin@latimes.com

Anger continues to boil up among residents and business owners who have been without AT&T land line phone service for days now.

At least 352 AT&T customers in Burbank have been without phone service since Saturday, company officials said, after a construction crew accidentally cut a cable. Crews have been working around the clock to restore service, a spokeswoman said.

But for some customers, the damage has already been done and continues to accumulate.

Brian Schneider of Schneider & Associates Claim Services said he has been without phone service since Monday morning.

"It's really destroying my business, I feel very helpless,” Schneider said. "I feel like I’m living in a Third World country with no telephone."

He estimated a loss of $6,000 to $7,000 a day because customers cannot reach him.

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"Customers are sending emails asking if we're still in business," Schneider said. "I have 25 employees who are going to be adversely affected by this."

Compounding matters is the fact that he just rolled out a marketing campaign to attract new customers.

"It's not easy to get new clients in this environment, and then they call and the phone just rings and we don't pick it up -- bye-bye new client."

For Burbank resident Christine Gitomer, who said she has also been without phone service since Saturday, the lack of a land line has been unnerving, especially since it took several calls on her cell phone to figure out what had happened.

"My major concern at this point is the failure of the city to alert the public of the situation, which for some could have been, and still could be, life threatening,” she said. "There is no way to know that the phone is not working until you try to use it."

She said an official notice should have gone out to customers, much like information on a power outage or other major infrastructure event.

"I realize that it was the fault of a private contractor," Gitomer said. "Yes, AT&T is not to blame, the city is not to blame, etc., etc.  But do they not have some measure of responsibility to alert us?"

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