By Patricia Morrison Coate
Olympic Peninsula News Group
SEQUIM — When new owners or managers take over a “turnkey” business they expect just that — operations and systems in place from day one.
When computer technologists Sheryl Mirenta and Moni Chaudhry turned the key at Olympic Wi-Fi on July 1, they got the key and precious little else. According to the pair, the internet service provider at 461 W. Washington St. in Sequim was abandoned in June leaving confused and angry customers in his wake.
“If you were a customer, you probably couldn’t get your email and you’d have difficulty with the internet such as slow downloading, slow buffering and losing signals,” Mirenta said.
“The customers had no support. My focus is let’s get their internet working better.”
One of the ISP’s investors was so concerned about customers losing services that he contacted Chaudhry, who called in Mirenta for her computer technology expertise — she’d run her own successful computer and networking business for 14 years near Gig Harbor — and they’d worked together for years on other projects. Chaudhry, the new owner, has 25 years experience in computer technology.
“So we’re working on all that,” Mirenta said, adding that the “mess” is “overcomeable and recoverable. It all takes steps. In the beginning, it was nothing but problems and putting fires out — we have come a long way because I’ve put out a lot of fires this week,” Mirenta said July 7.
Regarding the status of customers’ personal information, Mirenta said, “We’re checking the integrity of the security of the system and are finding things secure at this time. I believe everybody is safe. Part of my job is to protect customers and I’m not alarmed.”
She and Chaudhry have practically been living in the store, putting in 15-hour days to find solutions for customers on a case-by-case basis.
“All day we’re getting complaints but most people walk away satisfied,” Chaudhry said. “Some are not getting their email and are angry, but they have a right to be. We’re also working with vendors to get new technology and doing research and development now to give customers better service.”
“I was expecting that [complaints] — I knew people would be angry and they have the right to be — but also they need to know that we’re on it and we’re working diligently 15 hours a day,” Mirenta stressed.
She noted there will be many challenges going forward.
Mirenta explained, “The whole environment, we have to find out what it’s doing and we’re taking a layer off at a time to discover what it is, where does this or that wire go, so we’re doing a lot of investigating.”
Asked when the internet service provider will be running smoothly, Mirenta said, “It’s kind of hard to say. All the major stuff we’re talking days or weeks. Upgrading the system could take a couple of months — it all comes in stages.”
Chaudhry said the company name will change to Sonics Wi-Fi but for the time being, the Sequim operation will remain Olympic Wi-Fi.
“It will have nothing to do with the previous business because we’re starting from scratch with the new corporation,” he said.
Despite the frustration, Mirenta said, “I am so excited to become part of the community and its businesses. Once I get down to a regular work day I want to volunteer. I’m excited to be here.”
Chaudhry, who lives in Bellevue, echoed his colleague. “I love this area and I love the community. There are good vibes here and I’d like to live here.”
The best thing customers with service issues can do is call 360-683-2220 or visit the office at 461 W. Washington St., during regular business hours of 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays to talk with Mirenta directly.
Patricia Morrison Coate is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach her at pcoate@sequim gazette.com.