CenturyLink left customers without Internet for 39 days—until Ars stepped in


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When a severe winter storm hit Oregon on January 13, Nicholas Brown’s CenturyLink fiber Internet service stopped working at his house in Portland.

The initial outage was understandable amid the widespread damage caused by the storm, but CenturyLink’s response was poor. It took about 39 days for CenturyLink to restore broadband service to Brown and even longer to restore service to one of his neighbors. Those reconnections only happened after Ars Technica contacted the telco firm on the customers’ behalf last week.

Brown had never experienced any lengthy outage in over four years of subscribing to CenturyLink, so he figured the telco firm would restore his broadband connection within a reasonable amount of time. “It had practically never gone down at all up to this point. I’ve been quite happy with it,” he said.

While CenturyLink sent trucks to his street to reconnect most of his neighbors after the storm and Brown regularly contacted CenturyLink to plead for a fix, his Internet connection remained offline. Brown had also lost power, but the electricity service was reconnected within about 48 hours, while the broadband service remained offline for well over a month.

Fearing he had exhausted his options, Brown contacted Ars. We sent an email to CenturyLink’s media department on February 21 to seek information on why the outage lasted so long.

Telco finally springs into action

Roughly four hours after we contacted the firm, a CenturyLink technician arrived at the Portland house Brown shares with his partner, Jolene Edwards. The technician was able to reconnect them that day.

At 4:30 pm, a CenturyLink tech showed up unannounced,” Brown told us. No one was home at the time, but he said he would wait. I get the idea that he was told not to come back until it was fixed.”

Brown’s neighbor, Leonard Bentz, also lost Internet access on January 13 and remained offline for two days longer than Brown. The technician who arrived on February 21 didn’t reconnect Bentz’s house.

“My partner gently tried to egg him to go over there and fix them too, and he more or less said, ‘That’s not the ticket that I have,'” Brown said.

After getting Bentz’s name and address, we contacted CenturyLink again on February 22 to notify them that he also needed to be reconnected. CenturyLink later confirmed to us that it restored his Internet service on February 23.

“They kept putting me off and putting me off”

Bentz told Ars that during the month-plus outage, he called CenturyLink several times. Customer service reps and a supervisor told him the company would send someone to fix his service, but “they kept putting me off and putting me off and putting me off,” Bentz said.

On one of those calls, Bentz said that CenturyLink promised him seven free months of service in exchange for the long outage. Brown told us he received a refund for the entire length of his outage, plus a bit extra. He pays $65 a month for gigabit service.

Brown said he is “happy enough with the resolution,” at least financially since he “got all the money for the non-service.” But those 39 days without Internet service will remain a bad memory.

Unfortunately, Internet service providers like CenturyLink have a history of failing to fix problems until media coverage exposes their poor customer service. CenturyLink is officially called Lumen these days, but it still uses the CenturyLink brand name.

After fixing Brown’s service in Portland, a CenturyLink spokesperson gave us the following statement:

It’s frustrating to have your services down and for that we apologize. We’ve brought in additional resources to assist in restoring service that was knocked out due to severe storms and multiple cases of vandalism. Some services are back, and we are working diligently to completely restore everything. In fact, we have technicians there now. We appreciate our customers’ patience and understanding, and we welcome calls from our customers to discuss their service.



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