SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) — This week, thousands of small business owners across the country were without phones after a major Comcast phone outage, including here in Sarasota.
A Comcast spokesperson told News Channel 8 that a network issue on Tuesday caused an outage that impacted small and medium-sized businesses. There were reports of phone outages from coast to coast.
Gentile Brothers Cheesesteaks in Sarasota lost their phone service at around 2 p.m. on Tuesday.
“We had no phone system, no phone orders, killed our afternoon business,” said Owner Bill Gentile.
The phones were out for the rest of the day. He estimates that he lost about $500 worth of business.
“[For a] small business it hurts,” Gentile explained. “The helpless feeling was the worst part. There’s not a thing we can do.”
Gentile said his brother called Comcast and was placed on hold for 35 minutes. They never had any answers. “We were in the dark about it. We closed our doors and didn’t know if they would be open this morning. That’s not a good feeling when you’re trying to sleep at night.”
Nicole Kallish, the owner of Sarasota Grooming Company posted messages on Facebook to warn customers that she was unreachable by phone. “I don’t want to miss any appointments. I’m a newer business, only been here a couple of years and I started here with no clients, so I don’t want to miss anybody,” she said.
In a statement, Comcast apologized for the inconvenience and a spokesperson said the cause of the outage has been fixed. “We’re working to ensure their services are fully restored as quickly as possible,” said Comcast.
Throughout the day on Wednesday, local businesses had their phones restored. But on social media, many businesses across the country were still left without phones.
Kallish stressed it’s a reminder of the importance of landlines in the 21st century. She said, “[It’s] still important in this day and age even with all the computers and all that other stuff, we still need a phone.”
Gentile said, “You still need them to operate every day and when you don’t have it you realize how much you do need it.”
This outage was also a reminder of the importance of social media. Businesses throughout Tampa Bay and across the country were able to notify their customers and keep in touch through their Facebook and twitter pages. It’s a good way to reach customers when the phones fail.
Comcast sent the following statement to News Channel 8:
“We are working on a plan to credit customers for the inconvenience this outage has caused to their businesses. We know our customers rely on us and we’re committed to making it right. We’ll continue to keep this link updated with the latest information.”