5 On Your Side

Data flows but water doesn't after AT&T crew cuts line to Raleigh home

Posted March 13

— Last month, 5 On Your Side shared some of the problems area homeowners have contacted us about.

The reports generated even more complaints, including one about an expensive issue with a broken water line.

Crews digging in a north Raleigh neighborhood broke the water line to an elderly couple's home. Utility line breaks – water, gas, phone and cable – are pretty common due to fiber internet work going on in the area, but what struck us with this case was AT&T's initial reluctance to pay for repairs.

If you haven't heard the noise or seen crews working on fiber lines yet, you will.

They are being put down in neighborhoods across the Triangle, with companies promising faster internet speeds.

Until those faster speeds are a reality, however, the work is creating headaches for some families, such as the Hitchcocks.

Paul and Ursula Hitchcock lost water for two days last month when AT&T dug into their yard.

"The water was running uncontrolled for six to eight hours down the street," the couple's son, Mark Hitchcock, said.

Mark Hitchcock started making calls shortly after the line was cut to get the break fixed.

"Get this guy on the phone who is head of risk management for AT&T, seems like the right guy to get. He's in charge," Mark Hitchcock said. "He just says, 'Get it done. Keep track of all the invoices, and I'll give you information of who to get in touch with and go.'"

The repair required the impacted water line be brought up to code, work that cost $3,100.

Hitchcock called AT&T for reimbursement, but there was a hitch.

"They say that kind of job is worth $250 to $300, and they say, 'We do not pay to bring things up to code,'" Hitchcock said. "And my response was, 'You broke it, you fix it.'"

Fiber line installation was blamed for 40 percent of reported utility line damage across North Carolina in 2016.

Utility lines are supposed to be marked in your yard before any work begins.

Gas line ruptures are another problem related to ongoing fiber work.

A spokeswoman for PSNC tells 5 On Your Side that the company started training sessions last year to educate contractors.

Hitchcock thinks the crew that worked in his parents' yard could probably use similar education, as well as the AT&T employee who refused to reimburse his bill.

That's why he called 5 On Your Side.

When we called AT&T, a spokesman told us, if a line is hit, they are responsible for handling repairs.

Josh Gelinas, who works in public relations for AT&T, said the refusal to reimburse the Hitchcocks was a "miscommunication."

Soon after 5 On Your Side's call, the company sent Hitchcock a check for the $3,100 repair bill.

Hitchcock says he's relieved for his parents and hopes they don't experience any more fiber installation problems.

If you experience an issue with either AT&T or Google as fiber installation continues, reach out to the company.

If that doesn't work, reach out to the town or city in which you live.

1 Comment

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  • Fred Neopolitano Mar 13, 7:24 p.m.
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    These big companies think they can do and say anything they want.