Watchdog group criticizes Pac Bell’s repair services

The Associated Press
Wednesday November 15, 2000

A consumer watchdog group has criticized Pacific Bell for taking too long to repair residential customers’ phone lines, according to a recent complaint filed with state regulators. 

The Office of Ratepayer Advocates, the watchdog arm of the California Public Utilities Commission, said Pacific Bell took an average of 38 hours last year to repair phone lines. 

The group said the delays have grown since SBC Communications of Texas took over Pacific Bell in 1997. In 1996, repairs averaged 29 hours from the time customers reported a problem to when it was fixed. 

In 1997 and 1998, the group said Pacific Bell took an average of 47 to 50 hours to complete repairs. During the first six months of 2000, the company has taken nearly 45 hours on average to fix phone lines, though company spokesman John Britton said bad weather at the start of the year make repairs take longer. 

“We are providing good customer service,” Britton said. “They are taking selective data out of context.” 

The watchdog group said state regulators should order Pacific Bell to guarantee it will provide repair service within a certain time, and give customers a credit if they miss it. The group added that regulators should fine Pacific Bell if it routinely takes too long and audit the company’s records to make sure it is fully disclosing customer complaints about service. 

A San Diego consumer group, the Utility Consumers Action Network, sued Pacific Bell in a similar complaint.