Wednesday, November 30, 2005

"Hold the phone" in New Orleans

I've been thinking about New Orleans and technology lately; the issue of New Orleans' metro wifi plan has brought that to the fore. A story in New Orleans' City Business highlights another way in which Lafayette and New Orleans are running in parallel tracks. It's a story which contrasts BellSouth and Cox's recent behavior. In New Orleans this is all about the recovery effort after Katrina. It seems New Orleans feels Cox is doing a better job than BellSouth:
Frustration with damaged phone lines is off the hook among BellSouth customers in the wake of Hurricane Katrina...

"I hate BellSouth. I've had the worst experience with that company. The only two things at BellSouth that work are billing and marketing. I feel like they don't care about the individual customer," Loehfelm said.

BellSouth has restored service to 50 percent of Orleans Parish, Villar said. He would not disclose how many customers BellSouth has...

Part of the issue seems to be lack of communication more than anything else. Cox set clear deadlines in different parts of the city for turning on service--and met them. BellSouth has not set such public goals and apparently has disappointed people who were led to believe they'd have service back more quickly than has proven the case when they contacted the company individually.

The idea that Cox is capable of understanding at least the demands of public relations if not good citizenship is hard for me to grasp. It's hard to forget the first months of the fiber fight when Cox representatives were by far the more obnoxious and BellSouth folks at least seemed dignified. I guess its time to get over that.

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