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Frontier Sued for Junk Bill-Padding Fees They Claim Are Government-Required

Phillip Dampier October 13, 2011 Consumer News, Frontier, Internet Overcharging, Public Policy & Gov't 1 Comment

Frontier Communications customers may be owed refunds for their Internet service because, a new lawsuit alleges, the company deceptively billed customers fees the company is not entitled to receive.

Four Frontier customers — three in Minnesota and one in New York — are suing the company for add-on charges the company claims are required by the government, but in fact are pocketed by the phone company.

The lawsuit claims Frontier is guilty of fraud, breach of contract, deceptive practices, false advertising and violations of the Federal Communications Act and the Internet Tax Freedom Act.

The plaintiffs claim broadband customers are being billed for certain state and federal taxes, 911 surcharges, and Universal Service Fund fees, even though they don’t apply to broadband service.

“It is merely a junk fee that Frontier imposes on customers,” the lawsuit says.  “The fee bears no relationship to any governmentally-imposed fee or regulation, and is nothing other than an effort by Frontier to increase prices above the advertised price.”

Adding fuel to the fire, Frontier recently imposed a new “HSI Surcharge” on broadband customers, and as Stop the Cap! reported earlier, some company representatives have claimed that fee is government mandated as well.

In fact, federal law bans most taxes on Internet service under the Internet Tax Freedom Act.  Since broadband customers cannot dial 911 from a DSL modem, 911 surcharges should not apply either.  USF fees only apply to voice telephone service.  Frontier, the suit alleges, levies all of these fees on the broadband portion of customer bills.

Frontier has more than 7 million customers nationwide, although the company does not disclose how many of them purchase broadband service.  If the lawsuit achieves class action status, Frontier could be required to return the ill-gotten gains to customers if a judge agrees they were wrongly collected.  That could cost the company millions in retroactive refunds.

Currently there is 1 comment on this Article:

  1. Joan Jones says:

    I don’t know if you are interested in this but it’s worth a try. I work for a major well known utility company and I feel ethically compelled to inform someone that there are practices within my corporation that are being done without the consideration for the consumer. My employment there has extended well over 3 years now and I have been turning a blind eye to what they call customer service. I believe that I have the duty to expose some of these inner workings to the public. I work for Frontier Communications.
    I do not want to be named nor am I going to divulge any names of my fellow employees. I will give detail in some of the misinformation given to customer, issues with systems that cause billing problems, and a few other known issues that upper management overlook. The biggest issue we are experiencing right now is appalling. The ‘blackout period’ and the result of it is causing chaos. Recently there were a few groups of the employees that were force fed training on the new Frontier’s systems. It was crammed in an eight day course. The majority of the time the training systems were down, a handful of subject learning material & systems were over looked-stating we’ll get how to do it on the floor. Anxiety and panic swept the call center, worried faces riddled with anger and frustration stood out everywhere. All accept the higher management. They kept saying, ‘don’t worry you guys will be ok’ or ‘we have to get this call volume down’. But the statement that never failed was, ‘don’t forget that you need to offer a wide array of services on every call. That’s your job.’ Regardless if a customer is calling in because she/he cannot afford their services as it is we are required to up sale them.
    I was employed with Verizon prior to the acquisition to Frontier. It was an exciting day for us because we felt like the iron hand was being lifted. But to our dismay the same type of mentality still existed. Also the changes FTR made caused a lot of panic as well. We are trained for sales 1st rather than customer service even though the values are People, Product, and Profit. Customer may call in with an major issue even at times irritate and frustrated-we are excepted to entice them to purchase an additional product that may or may not work. I will enlighten you on that subject-our ‘network congestion’ issue with HSI has caused a tremendous volume of calls to the call centers and tech support. There were periods were the handling time for these departments exceeded 30 minutes and even at times close to an hour. Numerous customers within the 13 states acquired have experienced an issue that was coined ‘network congestion’. These issues caused a great deal of frustrated customers calling in about their HSI service dropping. Some of them experience up and down periods over a few months. I even witnessed some customers that were out for weeks at a time.
    How do you sell a product that is not reliable? Netflix made the comment that Frontier has one of the worst HSI service in the nation. Some of us here feel guilty when we sell certain products because we know it may or may not work sometimes. The newest greatest selling tool we have for HSI now is we have to still sell it even though it may or may not be available in their area. Customers call in livid and frustrated because they were told they can get a service and now they are being told their area is not available for that upgrade to HSI quite yet.
    Another odd situation we have going on right now is our new phone systems are voice over IP. We are the phone company right? Then why are we using that type of system? Numerous issues are going on-dropped calls, noise one the line, unable to fully understand what the customer is saying & vice versa, and the total system freezing up while on a call. There are some of us who just have been sitting around because we are unable to access anything. One rep became concerned because their training for the phone systems consisted of a learning document they were given minutes before they actually used the new phone systems. A coach was made aware of her concerned and his comment to it was more or less ‘well then you need to ask if you need help’. That reply was heard from a few different reps and they were taken back. Why can’t we get the training we need to navigate through all of the madness? Call volume. How are we going to be able to handle issues like repair and collections, write orders properly, and steer through a calling system that just doesn’t seem to be working correctly? Apparently it doesn’t matter as long as we up sale our customers.
    One of the last issues I’m going to share with you is a critical issue that a new rep has brought to our attention and higher management as well. When an appointment, regardless of what the nature of it is-repair, new install, or anything else-is not fulfilled the customer is NOT called back to inform their appointment will not be made or efforts to reschedule it. Management and other departments know about this and still no efforts have been made to fix this. I have seen this on my end as well. What do you say to a customer who asks, ’why didn’t anyone call?’ There’s no real honest why to answer that properly.
    I don’t know what’s going to happen with the pending lawsuit that Frontier has from the 1.50 surcharge for HSI service but I do know that a lot of us here don’t agree with the charge and how it was handled. We were given a document on what to say when the customer calls in and disputes the charges. It was like a paragraph more or less stating we are imposing this surcharge and there’s nothing we can do to waive it.
    I now realize I have a made a poor choice in my career. I have great empathy for the customer and I’m fed up with how they are treated as well as the employees.

    Thank you for listening,
    Anonymous

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