Broadband

by Karl Bode


Filed Under:
broadband, competition, customer service, dsl

Companies:
frontier, verizon



Millions Annoyed As Frontier Bungles Acquisition of Verizon Customers Across Three States

from the dysfunction-junction dept

In February of last year, Frontier Communications announced it would be buying Verizon's unwanted fiber (FiOS), DSL, and phone customers in Florida, Texas, and California for $10.5 billion. The deal was yet another chapter in Verizon's effort to give up on fixed-line networks it no longer wanted to upgrade, as it focused on more profitable (read: usage capped) wireless service. The deal was, as Frontier's CEO stated at the time, a "natural evolution for our company and leverages our proven skills and established track record from previous integrations."

As it turns out, that "established track record" didn't mean all that much.

Shortly after Frontier began attempting to integrate 3.7 million customers in the three states starting April 1, things began to unravel. Numerous customers complained they couldn't use phone, broadband or cable TV services -- at all -- for weeks. Company apps no longer worked. Some DNS servers stopped responding. Voicemail services no longer functioned. Customers left without service for weeks say they called customer service lines only to be yelled at or ignored by Frontier support representatives.

As the outages and problems continue throughout May, politicians and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi had to intervene and begin the traditional practice of light wrist slapping for the screw ups:
"The ones that are most disturbing to me are our senior complaints that only have a hardline and they can’t call 9-1-1 if they need too. Many people, they’re internet is down so their alarm systems aren’t working,” she said. “This is unacceptable that this has happened. We’ve told them that, first of all people who have been out cable service, should not have to request a refund; they should automatically be given a refund."
Frontier's also now under fire in California, where lawmakers recently held a hearing to press Frontier on its incompetence. At the hearing, Frontier blamed "corrupt Verizon data" and a particularly dysfunctional overseas support center obtained by Verizon for the problems:
"Another key issue was the temporary use of a Philippines-based call center. Frontier used that call center because it was the same one Verizon used to handle customer issues and the company assumed those customer service representatives worked with California customers before."
Except "corrupt data" doesn't explain the depth of the problems (like broken DNS servers), and most of these issues should have been prepared for during the fifteen months between the deal's announcement and the customer integration.

The real problem is that Verizon (who no longer wanted these customers) sold them to a company focused on growing for growth's sake -- but unmotivated to seriously invest in customer support because there's just not enough competition to warrant it. And this isn't the first time this has happened; both Fairpoint Communications and Hawaiian Telcom went bankrupt when they bought massive swaths of unwanted Verizon territory. In the Fairpoint deal, the ISP acquired Verizon's customers in Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire, but then imploded from the support strain -- and the debt from the deal.

In short, regulators keep seeing how these lose/lose deals go south quickly, but keep signing off on them anyway. Usually that's because they figure that an utterly incompetent company is better than an utterly apathetic company when it comes to delivering barely adequate service. It's just par for the course for an industry where abysmal service is the norm -- because there's little to no real competitive pressure holding any of them to a higher standard.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    s7, 27 May 2016 @ 2:21pm

    New Frontier, former Verizon customer in California here.

    Was the Netflix / Verizon payoff part of this sale?
    http://time.com/80192/netflix-verizon-paid-peering-agreement/

    I now frequently get the spinning ))buffering(( circle now while trying to watch Netflix. Is Netflix now going to have to pay off Frontier?

    Have also noticed other speed issues and downtime as well. It's not been great.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 May 2016 @ 2:23pm

    "Numerous customers complained they couldn't use phone, broadband or cable TV services -- at all -- for weeks"

    WEEKS

    Minutes is frustrating, hours is aggravating, days is unacceptable, weeks is "anyone who could have switched carriers would have and gotten internet sooner".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 27 May 2016 @ 2:57pm

    Automatic?

    Did you say automatic? We only know of two references for automatic...one has to do with our Glock 9mm's and the other has to do with our CaddyLac. What's this automatic refund nonsense? We be in bidness son, not some charity.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Haywood (profile), 27 May 2016 @ 3:19pm

    Ya mon I can't fix that

    A Texas Verizon DSL now on Frontier. I had one service call, the fellow looked like a street person from Jamaica, driving an ancient pick-up. He was nice enough, but the service is still spotty, the phone has a constant hum, the DSL mostly works though. They aren't filling me with confidence

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 May 2016 @ 3:37pm

    North Texas FIOS user, now with Frontier - we had no problems at all during the switch - no outages and no noticeable slowdowns (connection is in use about 16 hrs a day). It's all rather strange since other nearby users reported some problems while others reported no issues at all. Billing switchover worked fine too.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 May 2016 @ 5:40am

    Problems

    From what I have heard the main problems occurred because things that were expected to be part of the sale (static IPs, FiOS content servers, etc) were not part of the sale. So, when everything cut over certain customers ended up with part of their setvices still owned by Verizon and suddenly unreachable because Verizon had updated their systems to ignore requests from the sold areas.

    Paid for or remote DVR content residing on Verizon owned servers? No access.

    Static IP that was not part of the sale? Your packets are dropped by Verizon switches.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    hopponit (profile), 28 May 2016 @ 8:56am

    Frontier

    Frontier is being sued in WV because they have been selling customers "high speed internet" like it's the same as broadband. Probably nothing to come of it except more payoffs to election campaigns.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ljnova (profile), 28 May 2016 @ 12:34pm

    from a bud who works for Verizon in transferring to Frontier:

    “Frontier didn’t get screwed. The systems stay the same for one year and we gave them an entire IT team to support the backend in the transition. We worked with them for MONTHS before the transition. This is not Verizon’s fault. The reality is that they are using the exact same system we do for FiOS. We just cut the ties in the database so the 2 sides don’t talk. The outages are all on frontier. They got our systems and our people and they still can’t make it work. Vz tried to tell them to convert rather than transition status quo. We even built them a proprietary version of our ordering system. In my mind it was gift wrapped. Interestingly, customers started complaining of slower throughput immediately after Frontier took over… And they are incapable of restoring service… Even though it’s the same people and the same systems.”-end quote

    what I just stated above is from a Verizon employee that assisted in the transfer to Frontier so he knows what he’s talking about.

    Here’s another post from another Verizon employee :

    “The first Frontier purchase in 2009-2010 was relatively smooth because the properties sold were operated as a joint venture for about a year. This gave Frontier time to slowly integrate the newly-acquired properties into their operations so as to minimize disruption.

    The 2016 purchase was essentially an immediate conversion. On midnight April 1, the network was cut over from Verizon management and connectivity to Frontier. The connectivity was handled mostly gracefully with central offices maintaining connection to the outside world, but Frontier management systems did not adapt to the sudden influx of heterogeneous elements so well, effectively resulting in bad configs being pushed to individual customers and central office equipment.

    There are other aggravating circumstances. The company roughly doubling in size with >10,0000 Verizon employees making the same sudden transition to fundamentally new systems and processes did not help things. Another problem specific to voice is that a large percentage of Verizon fiber customers had migrated to VoIP platforms that Frontier did not have an analogue for (the tiny handful of VoIP fiber customers obtained in 2009-2010 were migrated back to TDM voice). Network management practices had diverged enough in ~7 years that the networks acquired in 2016 were markedly different animals than the 2009-2010 networks. The markets served are also markedly different – Frontier is heavily focused on being a rural to mid-sized city markets; the properties acquired ran the gamut but had an urban focus with different expectations – this may be shading Frontier’s approach to solving the many lingering problems.”

    -end quote

    So this is on Frontier’s end.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    celticson (profile), 29 May 2016 @ 3:06pm

    Direct TV

    Just think how badly we feel having Direct TV, only to have the worst communication service in the US, AT&T, take over Direct TV. I cannot go back to Dish because of contractual obligation, but I sure will when my contract expires. I"ve had AT&T phone service and satellite heretofore, and it has been, in all categories, the worst I have ever had. Even worse than Comcast.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dave Develder, 23 Jun 2016 @ 12:35pm

    Frounter

    If I hear were working on it one more time I shall have to be forced to file law suite 1 purchased 128 Movies it was not cheep I have access to 24 the rest are duplicates and when I call all I hear is were working on it and internet reset daily what is wrong with that we are working on it so they blame it on Verizon I had Verizon from late 90s till now no issues

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mike, 1 Oct 2016 @ 11:07am

    Billing Problem

    When Verizon was bought out we just got a different bill in the mail with Frontiers Business Header on it. We pay all our bills on time at the beginning of each month. We previously paid Verizon and then started to pay Frontier with no break. Just continued payments monthly.

    I recently applied for a mortgage and now Verizon has hit my credit stating that I did not pay them $50 some dollars. I feel violated that Verizon had the power to negatively report to all 3 credit bureaus. I dont owe them anything! I am responsible and have close to a 800 credit score.

    Now I am left to waste my time to get Verizon removed from my credit report.

    So should I take someone to court, Verizon or Frontier? For wasting my time and reporting negatively on my credit!

    Very Very Very Upsetting!!! I completely disappointed in the Verizon and Frontier acquisition and most importantly feel like I am being violated, extorted!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    James Ghrist, 5 Jan 2017 @ 4:03pm

    Frontier hold times in the hours!

    Frontier has never answered my call in less than 30 minutes on hold he'll, and has usually made me wait longer. One time I was on hold for 2 hours and 45 minutes. Please advise me of any Federal or state ( Florida) (class action lawsuits) I can join.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lindsey, 8 Jan 2017 @ 12:36pm

    Still bad

    My mom is currently on hold with Frontier (it's been about 2 hours now) and I am incredulous at how incompetent their customer service is. She's on the phone and chat via the website simultaneously, and still hasn't had her call answered. On chat, after being #72 in line, someone answered, transferred her to another (wrong) dept at #54 in line, who then didn't answer her direct questions and transferred her back to the customer service dept at #7-something again. All she's trying to do is find out why she gets an error message when she tries to purchase a movie. Found this article when I googled Verizon and Frontier to find out what's going on with their deal.

    Sincere question: why isn't there more competition in this space?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    M. Davis, 10 Jan 2017 @ 7:42pm

    beware of Frontier switching your plan

    Had verizon for some 5 years with no problems. Now Frontier comes on the scene and at 1st i thought ok who cares, now they completly changed my programming and are charging me for something i never asked for and dont want. they are now charging me $167.93 whereas i am suppossed to pay $111 and they say pay or we will ruin your credit standing. bs. Im trying to contact them but they keep stonewalling me, Its incredible that they can do this at will and you have no control over it. If i ever hear the name Frontier again i will run as fast and far as i con and let everyone know the dangers of Frontier

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dana Stout, 1 Feb 2017 @ 9:11am

    Frontier

    I have spent the better part of a year trying to settle with Frontier - I was told I would not have an ETF on my account and they continued to charge it for 7 months. After months of trying to reach someone, finally reaching someone only to have the call "dropped", talking to reps and getting fake names and employee numbers, being hung up on, being told there is no record of my calls with other reps....I was hit with a chargeoff on my credit for the original amount they said I owed (1 1/2 months of service I never had and an ETF I was told would not be charged) and I am now unable to refi my house. They refuse to remove the chargeoff saying there is no proof that I did not owe the money.

    What can I do? How do you fight something like this - they know that eventually the little guys will just put up and shut up with the criminal acts of a huge corporation. What can we do? please help

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Eric Fisher, 11 Mar 2017 @ 12:27pm

    Frontier

    Frontier is the absolute worst i pay for 6 megs and get less than 500kbps. I usually run at 200kbps or less 95% of the time my up is faster than down. This is WV frontier Webster co. I would love to join the lawsuit i have alot of info and over 100 customer support calls no help. They cant get away with this anymore. Help west Virginia frontier customer

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      lowkey phone rep, 24 Jun 2017 @ 6:13am

      Re: Frontier

      in your customer agreement it states u will get up to 6 megs no assurance u will get 6 megs call tech get ur modem replaced and thats all u can do less u go with another company

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    lowkey phone rep, 24 Jun 2017 @ 6:10am

    frontier

    i do customer service and billing for frontier its not that they dont care its Verizon literally gave frontier nothing and if u live in an area that frontier doesn't service and u r a Verizon cust they tell u to call us not them?!?! i take those calls all day long

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer
Anonymous number for texting and calling from Hushed. $25 lifetime membership, use code TECHDIRT25
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.