Seniors vent against Verizon after phone service outage

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016
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7 On Your Side's Nina Pineda answered the call for help from a group of seniors with no phone service.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- One 96-year-old walked to her councilman's office and was afraid to leave, because she has no way to contact anyone and they can't contact her. She said her family who's far away may fear she's dead.

Seniors are venting at Verizon. Hundreds of them - many say they've been without a vital lifeline - landline phone service - since the beginning of February.

"This is a matter of life and death," said Jimmy Van Bramer, Queens councilman (D). Bramer has been trying to fast track a fix at Berkeley Towers for more than a week. He says there are three buildings full of seniors with spotty or no service.

Martin Towey has Parkinson's and lives alone. And, like most of the people in the building, he has no cell phone.

After complaining to Verizon, Kitty Thornton got a temporary solution in the mail, but she has no idea how to hook it up. And says she says Verizon never sent representatives out to help.

Finally, she got the phone to work. She phoned her sister in Great Britain straight away.

But residents complain only some of them were provided with the temporary boxes, and no one is telling them when their landlines will work.

Verizon was on the job before 7 On Your Side got involved, but the problems persisted.

Wednesday, Verizon workers replaced a large section of faulty cable. Now Mary's Life Alert works again and Kitty's landline has a dial tone.

In the other building, Martin Towey, is breathing a sigh of relief and hoping service lasts this time.

Verizon told 7 On Your Side it was making smaller fixes to their system more than a month ago. It wasn't until last week it determined the copper cable had to be replaced.

There still were 10 isolated outages as of Wednesday afternoon. A company spokesman said workmen were clearing those one by one and should have service fully restored Wednesday night.