As the first snow of the season fell across the Boston area, Lindsay Crudele invited me to her Dorchester home to observe what she described as a “hideous tangle of bureaucracy” in her backyard.
The eyesore is more commonly known as a utility pole, which had teetered precariously amidst wires and tree branches for weeks.
“It’s just been dead air,” Crudele expressed. “I can’t get answers. I can’t get follow up. It feels like I’m trapped in a customer service vortex.”
The utility pole fractured during an intense windstorm in October. Crudele, a digital strategist and former City of Boston social media director, decided to post a photo on Twitter and flag the city’s 311 service on October 19.
After Eversource and Comcast determined the pole did not belong to them, Crudele eventually learned it was Verizon’s responsibility.
At first, the online dialogue seemed promising. A Verizon customer service representative tweeted to her on October 21 the case had been assigned to a technician.
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A week later, according to Twitter messages with Verizon that Crudele showed me, the telecommunications giant indicated the timeline for repair would be mid-November.
“I understand how frustrating it can be to not have this taken care of earlier,” the customer service employee wrote. “I am sure this issue has been escalated to the necessary department.”
However, November passed and nothing changed. Crudele told me that every time she tried to get an update from Verizon, it felt like she was starting the entire process from scratch.
“At some point, it’s become the definition of insanity: repeating the same fruitless effort over and over again,” Crudele said.
With snow on the horizon in early December, the Dorchester homeowner worried about how the extra weight could affect the stability of the pole as it rested on tree branches.
The utility structure hovered at the intersection of four different property lines. On the ground below sat fences, outdoor furniture and kids’ toys.
“It just seems really dangerous,” Crudele told me.
Out of patience, she asked if we could help resolve a situation seemingly frozen in a state of disrepair.
Within 48 hours of my initial inquiry to Verizon, crews showed up at Crudele’s house to remove the damaged pole, replacing it with a new fiberglass one.
Aside from confirming the issue was fixed, a Verizon spokesman did not provide any explanation when I repeatedly asked why there was such a delay.
“A sense of urgency over a giant, broken pole hanging over human people should be more of a concern, in my opinion,” Crudele said.