UPDATE: Frontier Communications responds to MN investigation

Company accused of failing to provide reliable phone and internet service.

Posted: Jan 4, 2019 11:51 AM
Updated: Jan 4, 2019 2:46 PM

ST. PAUL, Minn. – An investigation by the Minnesota Commerce Department has some harsh words for Frontier Communications.

A report filed Friday with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission accuses the company of failing “to provide adequate, reliable phone and internet service” to its Minnesota customers and recommends Frontier be required to refund or credit customers for service outages and unauthorized charges, hire more people to improve customer service, and increase investments in infrastructure and equipment.

The investigation looked into over 1,000 complaints and comments from customers of Frontier Communications of Minnesota, Inc., and its affiliate, Citizens Telecommunications of Minnesota, LLC. Those companies provide landline phone and internet service to nearly 100,000 households in southern Minnesota, the Twin Cities metro area, and northeaster Minnesota.

According to the report: “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 investigation, which was authorized in 2018, lists a wide range of problems with Frontier:

- Frequent and lengthy service outages, including loss of customer access to 911 emergency services.
- Delays in repairing and restoring service.
- Failure to provide expedited responses to service 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 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 lengthy 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 compared to more populated areas.

Frontier Communications issued the following statement in response to the report and its criticisms:

"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."

To view the full report, click here.

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