Verizon makes a hole in woman's lawn, fills it with bags of rocks

Verizon removed a utility pole from the front lawn of a home in Albany, NY, but the workers filled in the resulting crater by dumping in several sealed bags of rocks and then sprinkling some dirt on top. When the homeowner tried to garden the spot, she discovered the shoddy work:
She found there were big gaps between the bags, and dirt already was starting to settle into them and leave a sinking depression in the soil. Also, because the heavy stone-filled bags were so close to the surface, it would be difficult to plant the rose bush she wanted to put there.

Knapp said she has managed to haul out 13 bags but could not reach the bags at the very bottom of the hole. She opened six of the sacks and dumped the loose stones back in.

"This really seems like a pretty shoddy way to fill these holes, and I can't imagine mine is the only one they filled this way," Knapp said. "If they'd only opened the bags, ... ."

Since she wasn't home when the pole was removed, Knapp had no idea who did the work or who to ask to come back and do a better job filling the hole.

No stone unturned in the case of buried bags (via Consumerist)

(Image: Michael P. Farrell /Times Union)


  1. That is shoddy alright. But I’m wondering about the contractor who did the work. Were the instructions “put the rocks in the hole and put dirt on top”? If so, it is possible that a gardening illiterate, and none too smart person (or perhaps a young person without much life experience) didn’t know they were supposed to open the bags. I’ve noticed similar seeming bad decisions made by teenage bag packers at the supermarket who obviously don’t do the grocery shopping at home and who don’t realise a bag of onions on top of a loaf of bread isn’t a good idea.

  2. the rocks will provide good drainage. Perhaps too much drainage. Might be good to even it out with a little bit of clay soil mix.

  3. This sounds about right. Reminds me of when they put FiOS in my neighborhood. They dug a hole in my yard and put in a big FiOS box (like a water meter cover, but bigger). Whenever we get a heavy rain, the hole fills with water and the FiOS box bobs around like a little boat.

    Speaking of Vz, how ’bout that “Founders’ Grant?”

    1. It did. Before this story even posted, they fixed the hole AND the process that led to it.

  4. As someone who does the landscaping around my home, that would have miffed me to no end. Reading the article, however, it sounds like Verizon said this was not their normal procedure (they usually fill with sand), and they picked up the slack on fixing their mistake pretty quickly.

  5. After Arizona deports all the illegal immigrants we’ll have guys like these (who couldn’t figure out that the bags should be opened or more likely just didn’t care) doing all kinds of new jobs.

    Everyone’s life will be much better then! Thanks Arizona!

  6. A few years ago, Verizon was restringing some wire that happened to cross my back yard. They obliterated a few plants in my garden. I called them and demanded restitution and they promptly cut me a check.

    This is their SOP. They show up when you’re at work, so you won’t know who was there or what happened. They make no attempt to avoid damaging your property. They figure that most people won’t know who to call or won’t bother to follow it up. Edward Norton covered this risk management model in Fight Club.

  7. They show up when you’re at work, so you won’t know who was there or what happened.

    Or they show up when you’re at work because, you know, that’s when they’re at work too.

  8. Jesus, people, cut them a break. Do you know how much they *do*? Mistakes will happen.

    1. thank you. the “Everything is amazing and nobody is happy”clip could be appropriatly posted or played in a great many situations.

  9. “Rocks in a bag.” That’s my new term for shoddy work.

    Got this beat by a mile, though. About 10 years ago, Comcast cable came by to install a new line for us. Used a neat little tool that slices into the dirt/lawn and plops the cable down into the slot. All good.

    Except when they sliced through the tube that ran from our main line to the installed gas grill that we never used and had been told (at purchase of house) had been disconnected.

    I came home from work to a dog that had been throwing up and a house that smelled like, well… gas.

    I figured out what happened because of the dent in the lawn and the spot where they’d tamped in a bunch of grass on top of where the tube had sprung up when they cut through it. Their guy had put the tube halves back so that they touched each other but, guess what? Gas can get through narrow gaps.

    Sent me wife and boy to a hotel. Called customer service. Was offered credits for two free movies. Escalated call. Was offered free cable for 3 months. Escalated call and threatened to call my lawyer and the attorney general. Third call was with a woman who understood the seriousness of having pumped poisonous, explosive gas into my house. She took care of things.

    I have had great work done over the years by very careful, skilled workers. But it has been vastly overbalanced by shoddy work and just plain dumb-ass stuff that beggars the imagination some days. I’m all for giving people a break… except when I’ve paid to have a specific job done, and rank stupidity gets in the way.

  10. To be fair…it was probably not a Verizon crew that did this. Crews that do that kind of pole removal are usually contracted out. I work for a Cable company that competes with Verizon in our market and when they were laying fiber for their FIOS service, their crews cut our cable all the time. Most of the crews were great about it, would call right away and would assist me when I came out to repair it. Other times, they’d twist the center conductors together, slap some electrical tape on it and bury it. It all depended on the individual crews doing the work. But still they were working for Verizon, it falls on Verizon, to step up to the plate and do the right thing, which in this case they did. So again, to be fair, Verizon didn’t really do anything wrong here. A contracted crew screwed up, and Verizon made it right.
    So in that sense…this kind of seems like a non-story. Happens with any company. The story would be if they told the lady to screw herself and contact the contract company to fix it.

  11. Is she even allowed to plant anything there? Do the utilities have an easement or a Right of Way on her property? If so, she’s shit out of luck.

  12. hello, albany here!

    this is not an isolated incident!
    verizon and national grid have not only done that to her, but all over the city! i live off of delaware ave (the main street leading to her delamr neighborhood) which has been under construction for the last year. aside from the city leaving gaping holes in the street from poorly applied asphalt in november (which caused me to wreck a bike), they also have gaping holes in the sidewalk where utility poles used to exist! some of these holes are haphazardly filled with stones. a few others are just filled with inverted traffic pylons!!!

    this is a major street, a main artery in albany! there are within a few blocks of my home a dozen restaurants, 3 bakeries, an indie film cinema, 2 middle schools, a prep school, a few day cares,
    the public library, and a melange of shops and businesses that rely on foot traffic! to leave shoddy work like this all over albany is a detriment to the public and businesses. putting up signs saying that “all businesses are open” does very little when the sidewalks have craters and many of the street lights are non functional!
    big business and big government once again wave the rules! if i had filled a hole like this in front of my home, i’d have the city all over me for safety violations!!!

    rant over, burn, baby, burn verizon, nat.grid and albany county!!

  13. I wish I had that much time on my hands to complain about a slight depression in my yard where I was going to grow plants overtop that spot anyways.

    Here in Texas all that work is done by the Pole and Light Company, which is the closest thing to state sanctioned labor unions you will see in this state.

  14. I took the time to complain about the horrible reeking creosote covered telephone poles up and down the street and got no response whatsoever. Austin has a great online citizen request form, but nobody seems to be manning the lines. I mean, its been a month, and… nothing. Anyway, the way the city or the sub-contractors or light and pole or whoever has been bunging up the base of the poles with big chuncks of rock and dirt is plain ugly. But at least the rocks aren’t radiating VOCs 24 hours a day.

    Sidewalk and street repair these days seems to consist of tossing some loose tar chunks on the hole and waiting for traffic to tamp it down. Meanwhile the loose bits get washed down the storm drain and into the waterways.

    In some cases, a street sweeper, man or machine, might make a difference. Apparently, this is a foreign concept here. The status-quo seems to be leave loose gravel everywhere and use the most polluting materials possible and wait for the rain to wash it away. Somehow I think there has just got to be a better way.

  15. I’m rebuilding an electric fan that was made in the early 1930s. The replacement cloth-covered wire arrived in the mail yesterday. I expect the fan to last another 80 years easily.

    It is beautiful because the people who built it actually cared about the product of their labor. It shows all through the machine, especially in the carefully hand-tied, cloth-wrapped stator coils. Somebody refused to settle for less than the highest quality achievable at that time.

    You can still get quality goods and services. Fair trade organic shade-grown coffee tastes better because the people who make it care what it tastes like.

    But, in the telecommunications industry, nobody cares… because they don’t have to. Ma Bell is back, and she doesn’t want to hear any of your lip now that she is immune to the US Constitution. You are concerned about warrantless wiretapping, worm-infested internet services, bags of rocks in your yard? Ma Bell says “piss off, loser, what are you going to do about it? It’s a two party system!

    But don’t blame me. I voted for Kodos.

  16. Verizon destroed my front yard digging for their cable,left it and now thay send to me every week fliers to switch to fiOs.They can go to ….

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