Tuktoyaktuk residents demand refund after weeks with no internet and phone service

Some residents are looking for a refund from Northwestel after services were down for weeks following a blizzard in February.

Barney Masuzumi pays over $200 a month for phone, internet services but says he couldn't use them for weeks

A blizzard hit Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., late February that affected many residents' internet and phone services. Now some residents are asking for a refund from Northwestel. (Submitted by Chukita Gruben)

Some residents of Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., are looking to get their money back from Northwestel after services were down for three weeks following a blizzard in February.

Internet and phone services suffered after the storm and it's taking weeks to get the services back up and running smoothly.

"If my phone, my internet line, are both down for three quarters of the month, why am I still paying 100 per cent of the whole month?" said Barney Masuzumi of Tuktoyaktuk.

Masuzumi said he's had very little service over the last three weeks. He pays over $200 a month for his internet and phone services.

Masuzumi said his phone didn't work for so long that it "startled the hell out of me by ringing" when it did work.

"And then we'd make a flurry of calls."

Aftermaths of a blizzard that hit Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., in late February. Some residents are looking for money back after their phones and internet didn't work for weeks. (Submitted by Chukita Gruben)

He said a Northwestel customer service representative told him he would get some credit on his next bill. But the representative told him the rebates weren't going to make a much of a difference.

Masuzumi has fallen behind on his bill payments and said Northwestel told him his bill would go to a third-party collections agency shortly. 

"That's weird. They're going to collections for services I never got," said Masuzumi, who wants to know why the company can't track when services are down for customers.

But when he asked the representative about that, Masuzumi said he got no answer.

"There's a lot of questions people have about this and not a word out of the carrier."

Working on it 'case-by-case': Northwestel

A representative from Northwestel said in an email the company "is working on a case-by-case basis with impacted customers to ensure billing reflects the nature and duration of any disruption."

The company also said it will be reaching out to customers "proactively."

Northwestel did not say how or when this will happen. 

Tuktoyaktuk Mayor Darrel Nasogaluak said he was without internet and landline service two weeks after the blizzard hit.

Darrel Nasogaluak spoke about the issue at the beginning of March. He had no internet in his home for two weeks after the blizzard.

Northwestel told Nasogaluak he is getting credited for 20 days without service on his next internet bill.

"I called them almost everyday to discuss the issue," said Nasogaluak in an email. "I'm hoping that others are given the opportunity to get a credit for no service as well."

Clara Bates is hoping that she will get credit for her service as well. She said she still had phone and internet services but they weren't working properly.

"I always had it, but it was very poor service," said Bates, whose phone would cut off and internet would freeze regularly.

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