Syracuse, N.Y.: A Syracuse company says its business has nearly come to a halt because fill-ins for striking Verizon repair technicians have failed to restore its phone service after numerous attempts over more than a week.
Tony DiBiase, owner of Henry Frank Wholesale Ltd., said communication with customers has been lost since the business’s phone and DSL internet service went out more than a week ago.
Verizon crews have come to the business at 1108 Spring St. on Syracuse’s North Side about five times but have been unable to identify the problem, he said.
“This has been devastating for us,” he said. “If customers can’t reach us, they’ll just go somewhere else, and once you lose them, they may not come back.”
The business, which started in the 1920s as Henry Frank Leather, sells footwear, safety clothing and supplies, and leather goods. It has customers, including numerous correctional facilities, throughout the country and communicates with them mainly by phone and fax, DiBiase said.
For most of the past week the business could not receive or make phone calls or receive or send faxes. This morning, the business could receive phone calls, but employees could not respond to them or dial out.
DiBiase’s daughter, company President Natalie DiBiase-Eymer, said the Verizon workers who have come to the business to try to fix the problem have said they have been temporarily transferred to Syracuse from Texas and Maryland to fill in for striking technicians.
“They’re really very nice,” she said. “I just don’t think they’re familiar with the system in this area. I sure wish they would just settle the strike.”
Ray McConville, a spokesman for Verizon, said the problems fixing the business’s phone service are not necessarily related to the strike.
“Thousands of employees have new job functions,” he said. “Are they going to be as good as our experienced union technicians? No, of course not. But things like this do happen from time to time.”
About 36,000 members of the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers went on strike April 13 after nearly 10 months of negotiations failed to produce a new labor contract with Verizon.
The company has said it has trained thousands of managers and other non-union employees to fill in for those walking the picket line. Employees have been reassigned from all parts of the country and all parts of the business, including finance, marketing, real estate and engineering, it said.
On Friday, Verizon said he was deploying thousands of additional employees and contractors to serve customers during the strike. They are filling roles in the field and in the company’s customer service centers, the company said.
“While we’d rather have our seasoned veterans in these positions, each day, more and more customers are giving us high marks in that their inquiries and issues are being successfully resolved in our call centers and in the field,” said Bob Mudge, president of Verizon’s wireline network operations. “We are taking additional steps to ensure our services are available as our customers deserve and expect.”
Chris Ryan, president of Communications Workers Local 1123 in Syracuse, said the company is having far more customer service problems during the strike than it’s admitting to.
“The company keeps saying everything is OK, but it’s not,” he said.
DiBiase-Eymer said she may never know how much the phone outage has cost her family’s business. In addition to losing out on sales processed by phone or fax, retail sales have dropped off because customers often call before coming to the store, she said.
DiBiase-Eymer said customers can reach the store by leaving a message on its Facebook page.
Courtesy : syracuse.com