Frontier works to recover from Verizon takeover

Sorboni Banerjee reports

- Frontier’s takeover of Verizon this past spring had an admittedly rough start, and customers are still contacting FOX 13 with complaints about service or issues getting refunds. FOX 13's consumer reporter Sorboni Banerjee went inside Frontier’s facilities to learn what exactly went wrong with the transition.

Frontier’s senior VP for Florida said the company is using the same facilities as Verizon - same employees, same fibers and wires. The only thing that’s different, Melanie Williams said, are “the tools and new systems” employees had to learn when they transitioned. She said, sometimes the software didn’t “talk to each other,” blaming the discrepancies on updates and changes to the system’s 440 million lines of data over the past 12 years.

When asked if that’s something Frontier should have known, she said there was a year’s worth of testing ahead of time, but when the flash cut happened on April 12, there were unexpected problems. A flash cut is an immediate change in a complex system with no phase-in period.

“We did not expect it to happen until it happened,” she said.

What happened was an outage of phone service so bad that customers called the Attorney General to demand compensation from Frontier.

So why did it get to that level? Williams says they were planning on refunding customers after they dealt with the outages and solved the technical problems.

“Once we assessed the issues and looked at the trends and what was necessary, then we were going to evaluate giving customers credit… what she did was ask that we give customers credit immediately,” she explained.

When the transition first happened, the AG’s office got more than 1600 complaints. That was back in May. It went down to 500 in June, 300 in July and just under 200 in August. Not all were related to the transition.

So where do operations stand today for those of you who still have issues with customer service?

Frontier blames a decision to initially use offshore call centers, but says they’re now back in the United States.  Williams says frustration was caused because technicians responding to people’s homes would find different roots of a problem compared to what was being discussed over the phone where there was no first first hand knowledge.

As for high speed internet – Williams says it has to be analyzed on a case by case basis to see if its related to someone’s personal router, or extra traffic getting clogged in Frontier’s servers for any number of reasons from scheduled maintenance to bad weather.

Frontier says to the best of their knowledge they’ve credited everyone for the initial time they spent without services. Money back is based on the cost of services lost and for how long.

AG Pam Bondi’s office has sent out another letter to Frontier asking them to address a new spike in complaints regarding billing issues and trouble getting refunds.

Williams says, “if a customer has a situation that comes up where a customer feels they are not getting what they paid for, we will do everything to make sure that happens as quickly as possible”

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