Facing static over rocky transition from AT&T, Frontier offers customer credits
Several weeks after Frontier Communications' takeover of AT&T's fixed-line, cable and Internet business in Connecticut, some customers last week continued to experience service disruptions.
The Stamford-based company now is offering roughly $10 million in credits to video subscribers inconvenienced by the switch.
"We thought it was, simply stated, the fair thing for our customers," said Paul Quick, senior vice president and general manager of Frontier's Connecticut operations.
Although the company took over roughly 875,000 phone, 415,000 Internet and 200,000 video accounts in its $2 billion acquisition, Quick said U-verse video customers seemed to have the most problems with the switch. These customers will see a $50 credit tacked onto their next bill.
Not all video subscribers will get the credit, though.
Trumbull's Marshall Marcus said he has been told that because Frontier's records show his U-verse television package was purchased through a third party, he will not be eligible for the automatic credit.
His account, he said, keeps showing up as being attached to a long-canceled landline his family once had, instead of the account his wife set up directly with AT&T years ago.
"They got terrible records from AT&T," Marcus said.
He said he had no service the weekend of the takeover and, two weeks later, just got some of his television service back, but has only intermittent Internet use. "Piece by piece my television service is approaching the level it should be at," Marcus said. "My Internet service keeps going in and out."
He said several times Frontier workers scheduled to check out his issues never showed up.
Pratap Nahata, meanwhile, lost all three of his services for an entire week, and only regained them late last week.
He said he had been stood up by Frontier workers scheduled to visit his home.
"For seven days we had been calling them," said the Bethel senior citizen. "They gave us appointments and never showed up. It was starting to affect my health. I was getting anxious."
Stamford resident Trish Dayan said the most frustrating part was the lack of explanation as to why customers were losing service. "There was no explanation as to what was going on," she said.
Dayan lost Internet service the weekend of the transfer and didn't regain it until three days later. Then, last week, her phone lost its voicemail capabilities for four days.
She didn't fare much better than Marcus or Nahata in dealing with customer service, either. Dayan said it was difficult to get through to anybody and no one seemed to have any answers for her.
"It just seemed so inefficiently and ineffectively done," she said, of the takeover.
Even customer service representatives seemed to be confused about the issues that arose after the switch, said Barbara Mullen, of the Sandy Hook section of Newtown, who was without phone service for more than a week. "Everybody was nice but nobody knew what was going on, quite frankly," she said. "Everybody was trying to help me out but they didn't seem to know what they were doing."
Michael Coyle, a spokesman for the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, said as of last week Frontier, which has been giving PURA periodic updates, reported less than 100 customers were still experiencing problems.
He said he was told the problem arose because one of AT&T's modems was an older version that "wouldn't perform optimally" on Frontier's network. Coyle said Frontier is aggressively working on existing issues and PURA has no plans to take action against the company.
"It's important to bear in mind that a lot of the services that experienced problems were outside of PURA's regulatory purview," he said, of the Internet protocol-based services. "We don't have jurisdiction over the rates or the service quality."
Quick said the company is working toward getting its service back to 100 percent. "We will continue to work diligently until we get to that point," he said. "We're making progress. We're seeing a decline in the number of trouble tickets."