State: Frontier should refund Minnesota phone, internet customers for outages, errors

- Frontier Communications should send refunds or credits to Minnesota customers for its billing errors and its failure to provide reliable phone and internet service, an investigation by the Minnesota Commerce Department concluded. The investigative report was filed with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on Friday, Jan. 4.

In addition to customer refunds and credits, the report recommends Frontier add staffing to improve customer service and increase investments in its infrastructure and equipment.

The investigation focused on the quality of service, customer service and billing of Frontier Communications of Minnesota, Inc., and its affiliate, Citizens Telecommunications of Minnesota, LLC. The companies provide landline phone service to nearly 100,000 homes and businesses in Minnesota, as well as internet service in parts of northeastern Minnesota, southern Minnesota and the Twin Cities metro.

The Commerce Department held seven public hearings last fall in Frontier’s service area. The investigative report is based on more than 1,000 consumer complaints and statements and Frontier’s responses to questions from the state. Complaints and concerns with Frontier’s practices in Minnesota include:

Frequent and lengthy service outages, including 911 outages

Delays in repairing and restoring service

Failure to provide expedited responses to outages affecting vulnerable customers with medical needs

Failure to maintain and repair equipment, causing service outages and leading to public safety hazards, such as lines and damaged equipment on the ground

Lack of investment in infrastructure to ensure reliable phone and internet service

Frequent billing errors, including inaccurate and unauthorized charges

Failure to provide refunds or bill credits for service outages;

Lack of timely, responsive customer service, including call wait times, inaccurate information and “lost” repair tickets

Discriminatory practices such as prioritizing new service installations over repairs of existing service and providing slower repair services in rural areas

“Many of the issues reported by consumers show direct violations of Minnesota law and Commission rules, and indicate broad, systemic problems with Frontier’s service quality, recordkeeping and business operations,” the report states.

You can read the full report at mn.gov/commerce

Frontier Communications released the following statement:

"Frontier strongly disagrees with the assertions in the Department of Commerce’s initial comments and is reviewing the Department’s filing with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. Frontier and its employees work hard to provide reliable, affordable telecommunications services to approximately 90,000 customers in Minnesota, many in rural communities where no other provider will invest in providing service. Frontier recognizes we experience service issues and delays from time-to-time with some of our customers. We are an ethical company committed to our customers and the Minnesota communities we serve. We take this matter seriously and will respond appropriately before the Public Utilities Commission."

 

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