Many Okinawa cable customers lose service in billing snafu
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — For hundreds of Mediatti subscribers, cable channels turned from scheduled programming to a screen with a scrolling TV guide and the lights on Internet modems went from steady to blinking Monday evening.
Due to a massive computer crash, Mediatti was unable to send out October bills. So for customers who didn’t remember that payment was due on Oct. 2, their cable and Internet services were disconnected around 8 p.m. Monday.
The subscribers were subject to the disconnection deadline for past-due accounts, which is the 15th of every month. Normally a past-due notice is sent out before that happens.
Mediatti president Blake Williams said bills weren’t sent because the computer system crashed at the end of September — on the day the statements normally go out — and the server had to be sent to mainland Japan to recover the data.
“There will be no late fees whatsoever,” Williams said.
The company also is waiving the reconnection fee usually charged when service has to be restored because it was stopped due to an overdue account.
Mediatti employs a uniform billing cycle for all customers, with the bills sent out the last Thursday of each month and payment due by the second of each month, Williams said. Subscribers receive a 13-day grace period until the 15th, when still-overdue accounts are disconnected.
“Only customers who failed to pay by that recurring due date had their service turned off,” Williams said.
Some of the customers waiting in the long line at the Camp Foster Mediatti office on Tuesday afternoon were disgruntled about the hassle of losing service the night before.
“Oh yeah. Just a little,” Rose Payne said sarcastically when asked whether she was upset. “And that line didn’t make me any happier.”
Others, though, who were in line for reasons other than restoring service, said customers are responsible for paying on time — bill or no bill. Williams said the company is in the process of shifting to electronic billing, which could help avoid a similar problem in the future. Customers who sign up would get their statements by e-mail.