Make us your home page
Instagram

Frontier Communications outlines 'action plan,' bill credits to address service problems

A Frontier flag flies outside the Frontier regional office at 610 N. Morgan Street on Friday April 1, 2016, in downtown Tampa, the Frontier took over for Verizon today, resulting in outages. 

MONICA HERNDON | Times

A Frontier flag flies outside the Frontier regional office at 610 N. Morgan Street on Friday April 1, 2016, in downtown Tampa, the Frontier took over for Verizon today, resulting in outages. MONICA HERNDON | Times

TAMPA — Frontier Communications' expansion into Florida, which its chief has called "very successful," is getting a big Band-Aid — an "action plan" to fix lingering service problems.

The announcement Thursday comes after prodding from Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who met with Frontier officials Wednesday to address service outages since Frontier's takeover of Verizon's landline phone, TV and Internet service April 1.

"Communications services are critical to the daily lives of our customers, and we apologize to every Tampa Bay area customer who has experienced service disruptions," said Frontier's senior vice president and general manager of Florida operations, Melanie Williams.

Frontier said its plan includes:

• Bill credits for every customer who has reported a service outage that will be applied by the end of June. Frontier had previously said it would provide refunds to only those customers who request one.

• Using a U.S.-based call center as the "first choice call response team" when Florida residents call customer service to report problems. Frontier also said average call wait times are now between 30 seconds and two minutes.

• Establishment of a special residential customer care phone number for the next 30 days. The number is 888-457-4110, which will be staffed from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

• Creation of a "SWAT Team" to coordinate rapid response to service outages.

The company said it had completed the training of 1,200 Verizon technicians who became Frontier employees April 1, allowing Frontier to address a higher number of service calls than previously. And Frontier said it would finish loading 100,000 additional titles on its video-on-demand service in the next several weeks.

Customers have complained about missing shows and movies or buggy video-on-demand service since April 1.

Both Bondi, whose office has received 721 complaints about Frontier since the takeover, and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, whose office has received 144 complaints, both publicly called out Frontier this week for its service issues.

Those have included lengthy service outages, technicians who repeatedly fail to show for scheduled appointments and customers who complain about seemingly clueless customer service representatives. Customers also have complained about the difficulty in understanding workers at Frontier's foreign call centers.

"I am cautiously optimistic that Frontier's disruptions in service will be quickly resolved," Bondi said in a news release. "However, my office will continue to work with the company on each consumer complaint until they are all appropriately addressed."

Frontier CEO Daniel McCarthy told Bondi in a letter Wednesday that less than 1 percent of the 3 million customers affected by the transition in Florida, Texas and California had experienced service outages. About 535,000 of those customers are in Florida, mostly in the Tampa Bay area.

"However, we are not satisfied with that result," he said. "While service has been restored for the majority of these customers, there are still many frustrated customers."

But little more than a week ago, McCarthy indicated to financial analysts during a conference call about the company's earnings that Frontier had put its problems behind it. He had acknowledged the company responded slowly to complaints.

"This disappointed some customers and resulted in some negative publicity in the market," McCarthy told analysts on May 3. "We now have these issues resolved and behind us."

Michael Bremmer, a telecommunications consultant and CEO of Telecomquotes.com, said Frontier officials look silly trying to downplay what to their customers and the world at large looks like a major debacle.

"If you have a problem and you just step up, say you're sorry you've screwed things up, then it's not that big a deal," Bremmer said. "But when you deny over and over again to try and make it go away, you're just adding fuel to the fire."

Some customers remain angry at Frontier's response.

Antonio Amadeo, a resident of Davis Islands in Tampa, said he lost his landline phone starting April 1. This created difficulty because his mother-in-law is in hospice care at his home, and her medical care is often coordinated by phone.

"I called Frontier five or six times and just gave up," he said.

Amadeo's service was restored Wednesday after intervention by Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman. Amadeo checked his voice mail for the first time in more than 40 days.

He had 47 messages.

Contact William R. Levesque at levesque@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3432. Follow @Times_Levesque.

Frontier Communications outlines 'action plan,' bill credits to address service problems 05/12/16 [Last modified: Thursday, May 12, 2016 8:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jeff Bezos tops Bill Gates as world's richest person — for now

    Corporate

    Jeff Bezos on Thursday took something away from a billionaire neighbor in the Seattle area, Bill Gates — the mantle of world's richest person.

    Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, discusses his Blue Origin reusable rocket project in Colorado Springs in April. A bump in the price of Amazon shares in July of 2017 was enough to move  Bezos above Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, who has topped Forbes' billionaires list 18 out of the last 23 years. 
(Nick Cote | The New York Times]
  2. Bealls and West Marine to join Pollo Tropical at redeveloped Kmart site in Clearwater

    Economic Development

    CLEARWATER — The long-vacant shopping plaza on Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard, formerly home to Kmart, is nearing completion, bringing a handful of well-known retailers to the area.

    The long-vacant shopping plaza on Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard, formerly home to Kmart, is nearing completion. .JIM DAMASKE   |   Times
  3. Justice Department says civil rights law does not protect gay people

    Working Life

    The Department of Justice has filed court papers arguing that a major federal civil rights law does not protect employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation in a case now being considered by a New York appeals court.

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions boards his plane at Andrews Air Force Base on Thursday. Sessions is traveling to El Salvador to meet with local leaders and discuss their efforts to fight gangs like MS-13. [Pablo Martinez Monsivais | Associated Press]
  4. Duke Energy quietly builds a $1.5 billion plant in Citrus County

    Energy

    CRYSTAL RIVER — Sequestered in a remote part of Citrus County is the most expensive development project you likely haven't heard of.

    Robby Armstrong, Sr., construction specialist at Duke Energy, leads a tour through construction on the combined cycle natural gas plant at the Crystal River Energy Complex. The $1.5 billion project is the largest Duke Energy combined cycle project. Construction is about midway through and expected to be completed in 2018.
[MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
  5. Sign up for the daily News at Noon email newsletter

    News

    The Tampa Bay Times has launched a daily newsletter called News at Noon. It'll be the perfect way to catch up with the latest breaking news and our top stories right in your inbox each weekday.