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  • Annmarie Throckmorton, M.A.

Intimidating Fiber Optics Installations

About six weeks ago I had unsettling experiences on my own property with an installation crew for MetroNet, which is a provider of fiber optic internet, TV, and phone. A MetroNet crew of two were installing service to one of my neighbors and had taken down the utility lines that went across my backyard. I have detailed the problem interactions in my complaints below, the gist of which I emailed to a senior MetroNet supervisor.

On 05-15-19 at 12:30 PM, I heard men talking angrily in my backyard. I went out on my patio and saw two upset, disheveled Hispanic men in cheap safety vests and battered hard hats pulling down overhead electrical or utility wires in my backyard. I yelled out to them several times, asking, "What are you doing?" and "Who are you?" I could see that they heard me but they ignored me. I sat on my air conditioner unit saying, "Come here. You come here." because I am short of breath and cannot walk past patio. Finally, one of them march up close to me and said in broken English, "You don't yell at me." I was taken aback by his lack of manners, and I asked to see his ID badge. He sneered that he did not have any identification. I asked "Who are you with, who do you work for?" and he said "MetroNet, Dolly." There was no need to insult me by calling me "Dolly", I was not insulting him. I kept asking him to identify himself and after about a minute of telling me he had no identification and refusing to give me his supervisor's name and phone number, I said I was going to call the police, and the MetroNet crew leader stalked off angrily. The other guy he was working with spoke no English but he came over and tried to keep me from calling police by gesturing not to call the police. I went inside and phoned the police. I did not go out in yard again because I did not want to escalate anything. When the MetroNet crew saw me on my phone looking out my window, both men left my yard. They left wires down across my entire backyard. I saw that they were driving a light gray or tan cherry picker truck (hydraulic lift) because it was parked on the street parallel to and one block east of my house. When the police officer arrived at my home the MetroNet crew drove away. The police talked to me then went looking for the MetroNet crew. Police found the MetroNet crew but they gave the police a nonexistent phone number for their supervisor. The police came back to my house and told me that the MetroNet crew were contractors, and that they had been very polite to the police (other than lying about their supervisor's phone number). The police said that if I saw strange men in my yard in the future I did not need to go outside, I could just call the police. Police agreed with me that MetroNet should have called or otherwise noticed me that they would be working in my backyard. I did not ask for a police report although it is a hazard to women, children, and property to have contractors in residential yards who refuse to identify themselves. They could be anyone and there is no way to know their intentions, especially if they are rude. This incident in my own backyard was very upsetting. I worried that they might come back and damage my property or harm me.

A very pleasant MetroNet dispatcher put in a work order to put up the wires that were left down in my yard. A different MetroNet crew of two came back later the same day and quietly put the wires up on the utility poles. I assume they completed their work.

The MetroNet manager called me and thanked me for letting MetroNet know about the problems. He apologized to me sincerely. I told the MetroNet manager that this incident was scary and that I was worried about retaliation. The MetroNet manager again apologized and reassured me that it will not happen again. He groused that the problematic crew "will be going back to wherever they came from." He thought that might be Florida. That sounded like a business lie to me. I have lived in the American southwest and I am fairly sure that crew was Mexican. Illegal?

The next day MetroNet left a courtesy message for me on my phone. Then a few minutes later a young, scruffy MetroNet supervisor came to my front door asking what work I had requested from MetroNet. I told him that I did not know of any work that needed to be done by MetroNet in my yard, I told him I did not have an account with MetroNet, and I told him that I could not talk to him any longer because at that very moment I was late leaving on my trip to Chicago. Jason did not accept any of this, he put his hand on my screen door so that I could not close it and hung on it while he kept asking me to tell him about MetroNet work to be done in my yard. He also wanted to know what happened the previous day when MetroNet was working in my yard, but I did not want to rehash problems that MetroNet had already resolved. His behavior was unacceptable. I do not want to be blocked from closing my door and I do not want MetroNet personnel hanging on my door because that pulls it out of alignment. In fact, when I opened my front door Jason started off by sarcastically shoving his ID badge in my face while it was still attached on short lanyard to his neck so that was awkward and intimidating. He was not professional. I contacted MetroNet and asked them not send any more MetroNet personnel to my home. If MetroNet needs to work in my yard in the future, I asked them to please notify me by phone or mail in advance, closing with the formal phrase "I appreciate your attention in this matter."

I again called the MetroNet manager I originally spoke to, and he repeated that they would not be employing that contractor crew again, their behavior was "unacceptable." He apologized to me several times, he was very polite, he seemed competent, and he was clearly frustrated that I kept having problems at my home with MetroNet's installation of service in my neighborhood.

A month later a clean-cut MetroNet service man rang my doorbell and politely asked for access to the utility line running across my backyard to install service for another of my neighbors. I thanked him for letting me know and said, "Sure, go ahead and do whatever you need to do." This last interaction was reassuring.

Caption: Some of my spring flowers along my back fence.

by Annmarie Throckmorton 2015

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