On Oct. 19, the Prestonsburg City Council held a public forum, in which more than 100 individuals came out, to discuss the recent issues regarding Suddenlink and the service it has been providing.
During its regular meeting, the Prestonsburg City Council placed a pause on its regular council meeting in order to hold a public forum regarding Suddenlink and the service it has been providing to residents.
According to Mayor Les Stapleton, currently the city does not have an active franchise agreement with the cable and internet provider, as the city is still operating under the previous agreement, which Stapleton said had expired in 2017.
Unfortunately, according to Stapleton, franchise agreements, such as the one under which the city is operating, deals only in cable services, which means that telephone, internet and any other services provided by that company are not covered under any franchise agreement the city has.
"We had an agreement going up to 2017 and at that time, we tried to implement an agreement that the city of Pikeville had," Stapleton said. "There were some issues with it and we've been beating it back and forth for quite sometime before COVID-19 came."
However, according to Stapleton, in the new agreement, there is customer service accountability language that Stapleton said he tried to push forward.
Pike County and the City of Pikeville, which Stapleton said is taking action the company, have had well-documented issues regarding Suddenlink and its service. Stapleton said that Pikeville is fining the company based on the agreement that he attempted to get in place.
"We were late getting to the game," Stapleton said. "It's that simple."
Representing Suddenlink at the forum was Governmental Affairs Agent Erin Jones and Regional VP of Marketing Engagement Bob Lily.
Stapleton said that the forum was not going to be an ”everyone come up and bash them," type of meeting and that individuals could come up and tell their story, as long as individuals did so cordially.
Stapleton asked a series of questions for those attendance regarding their issues with the cable and internet provider and asked each person in attendance to raise their hand if he asked a question that related to them. Among the questions asked involved, customer service issue, outage issues, but arguably the most alarming item, was the number of individuals who raised their hands after Stapleton had asked, "Who here has had an emergency, where they needed to contact someone and because of their phone, internet or cable being out couldn't reach anyone?"
One resident, Eddy Stickler addressed the issue regarding receiving a bill for a service call, in which he said never occurred.
Another resident, Dolly Hunter, spoke of how how their service has been suffering issues, on the heels of her husband recently having open-heart surgery in late July. According to Hunter, one evening while she was folding clothes, she heard her husband, who was in the other room, scream. When Hunter said she arrived in the living-room, her husband was sitting in a reclining chair, "Blue with his arms and legs in the air."
"Our phone didn't work, my cell phone didn't work, so I couldn't call him an ambulance," Hunter said. "So I had to get him out to the car and get him to the hospital. You know what customer service told me on the phone? That they were sorry for my inconvenience.
"An inconvenience is not getting to watch your soap opera, not watching your husband turn blue and praying that God lets him live until you can get him to a hospital," she added.
Hunter outlined several times she and her husband have been billed for service calls, even when no individual from the company came.
Each resident was handed a form during the forum, which asked them describe their service issues they have experienced or are currently experiencing. Each form will go to the city, who will then provide the information to the company.
Stapleton said the next day that he believes the forum brought some light onto the issues that have been occurring. If any individual in the city or the county have an issue with their respective Suddenlink service, they can email the city at, firstname.lastname@example.org, and Stapleton said those emails will forwarded to the company's corporate office.