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Cell Phone Outages Frustrate South Austin Residents
A major cell phone outage in South Austin has caused frustration and confusion for hundreds of residents.
Sprint customers in the Sunset Valley area said they've been without cell phone service for more than four days. They also told KEYE TV they were having trouble getting answers as to what went wrong and when the service would resume.
We found out two Sprint sites in Austin went down, causing folks within about a five mile radius to experience issues with their service. Sprint customers were still having problems Monday night.
The company told us it's working as quickly as possible to get those sites back online.
In an increasingly digital world, attorney Rae Ann Shanley's cell phone is her one-stop communication device.
"If you don’t have a land line and that’s your sole source, it’s frightening," she said.
Since Thursday, Shanley has had to use her office land line to make and receive most of her calls.
She said within about a five mile radius of her Sunset Valley home, her cell phone turns into a stylish yet useless paper weight, and she's not alone.
Sprint sent KEYE TV a statement saying two of its cell phone sites were having issues. A spokeswoman then thanked customers for their patience, something Shanley said she's running short on. Shanley told us she has made two trips to the Sprint store and spent hours on the phone with the company, with no explanation.
"We're kind of in this all by ourselves, unfortunately," she said. "That's really disappointing. If there was an emergency, no one could get ahold of me and no one would know why."
We went to a Sprint store in South Austin. Workers said about 50 people had come in over the last several days with the same problem as Shanley.
They even said their Sprint cell phones weren't working in the store, but they weren't sure why.
"You kind of get the feeling someone knows something but it’s not the customers," Shanley said.
Workers could not explain the elusive signals and directed us to a state company spokeswoman. She would only say they’re working to fix the issue as soon as possible.
In the meantime, Shanley is thinking about bringing back a land line at her house and possibly switching carriers, to hopefully avoid feeling so isolated and vulnerable again.
So what are your rights if you want to switch carriers? Most of us have to sign a two year contract.
Cell phone providers usually provide a 30 day window to cancel once you sign the contract. If it has been longer, you may have to pay an early termination fee. Verizon and Sprint's fee is $350.
You can also issue a complaint with customer service. Some tech experts said the more vocal you are about your complaint on Facebook, Twitter and on the news, the better chance you have of customer service contacting you to prevent a public relations mess.
Update: at 4:21 p.m. Sprint said one of those two sites is now back up and running. They told us it was due to an issue with the wireline connection. The second site is still being worked on, and the cause of that breakdown is undetermined.
By Katherine Stolp