July 9, 2003 – Innovative Telephone will move its St. John office from a trailer in Cruz Bay to the Marketplace shopping center in September, the company's president, David Sharp, said on Wednesday after a Public Services Commission hearing on St. John phone service.
Customers seeking service at the trailer have to park blocks away. The Marketplace has on-site parking.
Sharp declined to comment on whether Innovative would increase the staff, saying it was a confidential personnel matter. The company currently has one customer service representative on St. John, and several residents complained at the hearing that this is not enough.
Yulundra Wilson complained that the Innovative office won't accept cash, although the customer service representative at the Innovative Cable TV office, located about one block away, does accept cash. "Not everybody has a checking account," she said.
Sharp said he would look into that matter. He said St. John banks accept cash payments for Innovative bills. But Wilson said she doesn't like to pay her bill at the bank because it takes too long for the bank to transfer the payment to the phone company.
A handful of people, most of them Coral Bay area residents, presented other complaints.
Cecil Potter told of numerous incidents of "crossed talk" in which he can hear and talk to someone using another phone line. And, he said, he had his phone service transferred from St. Thomas to St. John, but when the phone on St. John went dead, phone company personnel told him that they had been told he wasn't moving to St. John after all.
Wilson said that the crossed talk problem is especially prevalent on her line when it rains. She also gets a hum on her line when it rains. "When the sun comes out, it dries the line," she said.
She and others said they often get obscure messages such as "Your special feature code is not accepted."
The PSC's assistant executive director, Sandra Setorie, serving as co-examiner for the hearing, read into the record a letter from Serendip Condominiums stating that six condo owners have been waiting since last year to have phones installed. Two applied in May 2002, one in August 2002 and three in December 2002, the letter said.
Sharp acknowledged that St. John's enormous growth is contributing to the island's telephone problems. The company is evaluating the situation and will come up with a broad plan for solving the problems — "rather than being reactionary," he said.
Wayne Randall had numerous complaints about his Innovative Wireless cellular service, mainly centered on the fact that it is difficult for Innovative cell phone users in Coral Bay to pick up the signal from St. Thomas. He said customers of other cellular companies have no such complaints.
Setorie told him that the PSC does not regulate cellular phone service.
Hearing co-examiner and commission member Verne C. David told Randall that soon people will be able to transfer their cellular phone numbers from company to company.
The PSC held its first in a series of meetings to take testimony from Innovative Telephone rate payers on service concerns Tuesday evening on St. Thomas. The third and final hearing is scheduled for St. Croix, at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the Legislature Conference Room in Frederiksted.
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