NV - Austin residents complain about Nevada Bell service

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Jennifer Crowe Reno Gazette-Journal March 21st, 2001

Nevada Consumer Advocate Tim Hay demanded Tuesday that Nevada Bell notify Austin residents that their telephone calls are no longer private.

Hay said he learned Friday that for more than three months phone calls placed in Austin have been overheard by several families in Reese River Valley, about 15 miles away. He wants Nevada Bell to post notices at the post office, school, health clinic, library and other public buildings in Austin to alert residents.

Apparently, residents first reported the problem in December. Hay said they were told nothing could be done about the malfunctioning system.

“More shocking than the lack of privacy is the fact that Nevada Bell has not advised residents of the Austin area that their telephone calls are no longer private,” Hay said.

Phone calls to Nevada Bell seeking comment Tuesday were not returned.

The problem also is creating headaches for public services including the Lander County Sheriff’s Office. Hay said officers must drive 50 miles north of Austin to a pay phone on Route 305 to place secure phone calls.

The rural health clinic also is limited in services it can offer because of the unsecured phone lines. According to Hay, a patient overheard a discussion between her nurse in Austin and her doctor in Carson City. That clinic no longer does medical consultations with an outlying staff.

Hay said his office would take whatever legal steps are necessary to get Nevada Bell to fix the problem.

“At the very least, telephone customers in Austin should expect compensation from the utility as a result of being charged for private single-line service when that is not what they were receiving,” he said.


-- Doris (nocents@bellsouth.net), March 22, 2001

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