By all accounts, Frontier Communication’s service in West Virginia is abysmal.
In 2015, Frontier had to pay $150 million to settle allegations of slow internet speeds brought by the West Virginia Attorney General.
Now, the West Virginia Public Service Commission has opened an investigation into poor service by Frontier and the docket is filled with complaints from consumers around the state.
The bottom line is that Frontier is not delivering reliable service, that it takes days, sometimes weeks before problems are resolved, and it’s not the workers’ fault.
Frontier is not spending the money necessary to fix the problems.
Take the issue we are dealing with here at Morgan County USA in Berkeley Springs.
On September 12, we filed a complaint with Frontier concerning a bad buzzing on our line.
Then a few days later, we found out that we could hear our neighbor’s conversations while we were on the line, and our neighbors could hear our conversations.
Our neighbors too have called Frontier to complain.
Last week, we were told that technicians would be out on Saturday September 29.
Today, after trying five times to get through to technical support, we finally reached a human voice and we were told that yes, technicians were supposed to come out on Saturday, but couldn’t make it because they are out fixing phones of other customers who had called before September 12.
Frontier technical support said they couldn’t say that the technicians would be out this week.
It might be October 12 — that would make it a month listening to our neighbor’s conversations.
But we are not alone.
Patricia Davis of Kenna, West Virginia sent a handwritten letter to the Public Service Commission dated September 29.
It sounds like she is dealing with an Eastern European phone company before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
As Patricia Davis relates it, her phone nightmare went something like this:
July 19 phone cut off no dial tone.
August 2nd and 3rd — went out sometime during the night, comes back on late morning.
August 7 — clicking then partial dial tone then nothing morning and evening.
August 12 — phone has static.
August 15 — phone has static then would hang you up.
September 9 — out afternoon and night.
September 15 — phone out again till 10:15.
September 17 — fax machine noise at 5 am then nothing all day. Didn’t come back until September 18 about 1 pm.
September 20 — 3 pm phone company called said it was fixed.
September 21 — 5:51 am clicking again no dial tone.
September 22 — went totally dead while I was talking at 7 pm. It was dead for one hour and then came back on at 8 pm.
September 23 and 24 — static when someone calls here but clear when I call out.
Throughout the letter, Davis is recording her calls to Frontier and the Public Service Company to get some action — to no avail.
“Almost all the people on this road are senior citizens and there is no cell phone service down here,” Davis writes. “These lines have been here for over fifty years. “It is time the phone company spends some money and replaces them. Please help us get our phone lines replaced.”
These types of complaints litter the Public Service Commission docket.
“For nearly a year, I cannot keep an internet connection up for longer than 20 minutes,” Baker writes. “Sometimes less. I lost my connection in the middle of filing this complaint. I have lost financial transactions because of this problem. I have been told that Frontier knows of the problem and is working on it. For over a year.”
“The phone lines have been in poor shape and I cannot call out or receive calls. There is so much static on the line that I am not able to hear and have a conversation. The lines have been poor for 2 months (since June). I am 85 yrs old and have a pacemaker and would not be able to call 911 if needed.”
The Hampshire County Commission wrote a letter in July on behalf of residents of 90 households “with no service.”
“These homeowners cannot conduct normal business activities and more critically have no access to emergency services including fire, police or ambulance,” the Commissioners wrote to the Public Service Commission. “Efforts to work through Frontier have been unsuccessful.”
Karen McElroy and Karen Modessit, two widows living in Walker, West Virginia write on September 24, 2018 that “at present, we have no phone service.”
“It was reported on September 21 and was told it could be out until September 29,” they write. “We are both widows and live alone, we are elderly and I have breathing issues and am on oxygen. We both need our land lines in working order.”
On September 18, Mary Jo Perrette wrote to the Public Service Commission that “since May 25, 2018 our phone service with Frontier Communications has been out for at least 39 days.”
“This has required seven requests to them for repair resulting in seven repair tickets to be opened,” she wrote. “On several of those occasions a repair could not be scheduled any sooner than two weeks time. Our service with Frontier is solely for emergency calls if needed as most cell phones do not have service in our area. These outages and lengthy wait time for repairs is totally unacceptable. The last time we spoke with the repair technician he indicated the problem was the equipment which houses the ports is in dire need of replacement with upgraded equipment and that Frontier is aware of this and ‘dragging their feet.’ This equipment is located about three miles from our home. Your attention to this matter is necessary for our safety and the safety of our neighbor who has had even worse experiences with Frontier.”
On August 17, Shonnie Laughlin of Moorefield, West Virginia was not happy with Frontier.
“Well let me tell you — our Frontier telephone service is pathetic,” Laughlin wrote. “Most of the time, we have no service, or we may have it a few minutes. It may work one day and then not the next. You could just be starting a conversation and then the phone goes dead. I can try to call a person back and the phone line is still dead. This can go on for five to ten minutes and the line will come back on. Get a dial tone and try the call again and it will drop out again.”
“When my phone does work, I can barely hear the person I am talking to, it also makes a loud crackling sound. It is awful that we are stuck with this kind of service. This has been going on for years in our area as with neighboring towns and counties. Lately it has been an unconscionable length of time. This is so unfair to us. Why can’t we get good telephone service in this part of Hardy County?”
Frontier did not respond to requests to respond to these complaints.
The West Virginia Public Service Commission is accepting complaints on its case against Frontier (18-0291) online at this form.