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More Frontier Service Outages & A Stimulus Scandal Plague West Virginia As Complaints Continue

Phillip Dampier October 14, 2010 Consumer News, Frontier, HissyFitWatch, Public Policy & Gov't, Rural Broadband 1 Comment

Frontier Communications continues to alienate customers up and down the state of West Virginia with more service outages, billing problems, and emergency 911 service interruptions.

This time, it’s the community of Marmet that suffered an outage the company described as “temporary.”  Service to the area’s Metro 911 emergency operations center was interrupted Monday and residents knew what to do when Frontier could not deliver landline service that works — they grabbed their cell phones.

In Dunbar, the funeral director at Keller Funeral Home noticed he stopped getting calls from local area customers after Frontier took over operations July 1st.  Michael McCarty told a Charleston television station Frontier initially blamed him for the problems, but later discovered malfunctioning switching equipment was at fault and forked over a $344 refund.  McCarty’s business probably took a bigger financial hit than that when potential customers could not get through — for months.

“People would call, but it wasn’t ringing here,” McCarty told the Charleston Gazette. “There really wasn’t much we could do but wait it out.”

Two dozen complaints about Frontier’s performance are still pending at the West Virginia Public Service Commission.  The state’s consumer advocate says Frontier’s service quality in the state is not improving.  Frontier blames Verizon’s aging and poorly maintained network for most of the problems.

But many of Frontier’s complaints, not just in West Virginia, are about unfair early cancellation fees, inaccurate billing, lost service orders, and lousy customer service.  Here’s a sample:

  • “The customer service representative was extremely rude and angry. We called in response to the unfair cancellation fee of $250.00. Last week we were told that we had until 9/30 to opt for other phone service without a cancellation fee. Each representative gives different information. Small business were treated horribly by Verizon and now Frontier. After the rudeness, I will never bring my business service back to Frontier!”
  • “I have fought this company for six months because every month they cannot get billing right. They are the absolute WORST I have ever dealt with. They charge for services not wanted. They charge late fees when none should have been charged and then didn’t remove them after admitting their mistakes. If you have any other choice, avoid Frontier like it’s a plague, because it is.”
  • “They never processed my order to transfer my service. I called back 4 times in a week to get them to do their job. On the last day, I was left on hold for 2 hours in the morning and then 1.5 hours in the afternoon, only to be told I would have to wait another 3 days for a servicemen to come out. The wait times were nothing less than abusive.”
  • “Horrible folks to do business with. Verizon sold my FiOS/Phone account to Frontier and soon afterward mysterious charges for “ID protect” etc. started appearing on my bill. Whenever I call their service, it loops and hangs up. I tried the option for “we will call you back” – when it calls back , it will give another number to call back, where you have to wait again. Can’t wait to get rid of them.”
  • “Frontier recently bought out Verizon’s service in my area. The automated phone tree system goes in loops and hangs up on you. Furthermore, once I finally figured out how to get someone on the line (responding to every question the automated system asked with “operator”) and moved up to a supervisor… the supervisor got very short with me when I tried to cancel my service and then hung up on me. When I called right back, I got an automated message saying the offices were closed.”

Some enterprising Frontier customers have learned their hold times will be much shorter if they opt to speak with a Spanish-speaking operator.  “Many of the call centers are in Florida anyway, so you may get a bilingual operator no matter which language you choose,” writes our reader Danielle.  “I cut my hold times from over an hour to less than five minutes this way.”

Meanwhile, one of Frontier’s primary competitors in the state, Citynet, accused Gov. Joe Manchin’s office of wasting $126 million in taxpayer money that will benefit Frontier Communications far more than state residents starved for broadband.

Citynet CEO Jim Martin urged federal officials Wednesday to suspend the grant after the state defended plans to allocate a large amount of the grant exclusively to connect state agencies.

“The state’s response clearly highlights why the federal government needs to suspend the award until there are major modifications to the plan,” Martin said. “It is clear from the state’s letter that little will be done with the federal taxpayer funds to increase the availability of adequate and competitively priced high-speed infrastructure in West Virginia. The current approach will cost the state future job growth.”

Martin is upset that more than half of the grant, $69 million dollars, will be spent on Frontier’s behalf to construct a broadband network for the state government.  The agencies who get access will still have to pay Frontier market rates for high speed broadband access, despite the fact taxpayer dollars were spent to construct the network Frontier will operate.

Manchin

Citynet wants stimulus funding diverted to construct a “middle mile” broadband network that every telecommunications company can access at wholesale rates to deliver improved broadband services to residents and businesses, not just government buildings.

Martin says the Manchin Administration is making “blatantly false” claims that the stimulus money would deliver high-speed Internet to 700,000 homes and 110,000 businesses.  Unless those homes and businesses are stuffed into government agency buildings, it won’t.

According to Martin, all of the benefits will go to only two places — state agencies and Frontier’s pockets.

“It’s a political favor to Frontier,” Martin charged.

“The citizens of West Virginia deserve transparency and accountability from their public servants, and this is even more true given the magnitude and importance of the need for broadband enablement in our state,” Martin said Wednesday. “I was born and raised in West Virginia, and I am aware of the consequences this program could have for West Virginia in terms of job growth and competing for high-paying 21st century jobs.”

Currently there is 1 comment on this Article:

  1. Josh says:

    It’s funny because CityNet doesn’t even provide broadband service, the best they can do is ISDN. Which is a very outdated technology, right up there with dial-up.

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