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Spectrum outage affected Saranac Lake businesses on busy parade day

SARANAC LAKE — Saturday’s Spectrum outage may have meant a few hours of no phone, TV or internet service for nearly 2 million customers across the Northeast, but for local business owners, it may have meant a blow to profits.

“It was a mess,” said Ken Fontana, owner of the Blue Moon Cafe.

“Our phones and point-of-sale machines rely on Spectrum,” he said in a phone interview Wednesday. “We had to stop customers that were coming in and tell them to find an ATM if they don’t have cash or a personal check.”

Spectrum became aware of the issue around 1 p.m. Saturday after nearly 12,000 problems with TV or internet were reported. There were outages in upstate New York, Maine and New Hampshire. According to an email from Spectrum sent to the Watertown Daily Times, the snowstorm on Thursday and Friday damaged network fibers. Service was restored around 5 p.m. that day.

Spectrum customers are eligible for credit toward their next bill for the service they lost Saturday. However, this won’t be done automatically. People need to request it through customer service and can call (855) 707-7328 for help.

Leslie Hoffman said she submitted her request and is expected to get about $9 to $11 off her next bill. She wasn’t too thrilled about it not being an automatic fix.

The day of the outage was also the day of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Gala Parade, one of the busier days of the year for plenty of local bars and restaurants.

Fontana said the storm combined with the outage slowed down business.

Parade day is right up there with the CanAm Rugby Tournament in terms of sales for the cafe, Fontana said. He said he couldn’t put a number on how much money Blue Moon may have lost because of the outage.

“I would just be guessing,” he said. “Sales were down from last year on that particular day.

“You know, we limp along to get to this weekend because December and January are kind of slow. This weekend keeps your staff working. It gets you through March. It’s that big.”

Bitters & Bones co-owner Johnny Williams said the outage was an obstacle, but he thinks the staff and customers handled it well.

“I was very impressed with the staff for keeping a cool head, and the clientele was pretty understanding given the crazy curveball,” he said in a phone interview Wednesday. “It basically amounted to keeping paper tabs and charging folks when the service came back.”

He said parade day is “bar none the busiest day of the year.”

Williams said he was also surprised how quickly the service issue was fixed.

“We gotta tip our hats to Spectrum because that seemed like a pretty major complication that they fixed in five or six hours. It felt like an eternity, but it was actually pretty quick.”

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