Frontier Communications failed to automatically reimburse hundreds of customers due to service outage for several days. Frontier customers were without phone and/or DSL Internet service for 2 to 3 days in July of 2011. The cause of the outage was due to the negligence of a utility provider (NiSource, aka NIPSCO) who were responsible for cutting Frontier's line.
Consumers should find it troubling neither of these prominent, deep pocket corporations proved capable of acting with integrity by arranging automatic compensation for those deprived of service. Equally disconcerting was the manner both of these corporations responded to my communications regarding the service outage, not to mention misinformation provided by Frontier employees when questioned, regarding policies involving automatic account credit due to outage. During the course of a FOUR week period following the outage I interacted with a variety of Frontier personnel at the local, regional and corporate offices. One of the local field employees did not hesitate to reveal NIPSCO would most certainly be held financially responsible for the damage to the Frontier cable line but, appeared unable to speak on behalf of the hundreds of Frontier customers. What was preventing Frontier from holding NIPSCO financially responsible on behalf of Frontier customers? It stands to reason Frontier would hold NIPSCO liable for restitution to customers, since Frontier customers most certainly should not have to pay for services during the outage.
My email to Don Banowetz, President, Midwest Region on July 21, 2011 was routed to Ron Belin. My concern involved Frontier's corporate policy regarding automatic reimbursement for hundreds of customers who were victimized by NIPSCO's negligence.
Belin's responce to my first email to ........
Thank you for your inquiry about a recent Frontier service interruption. We did experience a cut on one of your large cable lines last week that caused a customer outage for 2 days. We sincerely apologize for the incident and will credit your bill as promised. I am looking into the outage so determine how it can be avoided in the future. Thank you for being a loyal Frontier customer.
Ron Belin, Area General Manager
Belin then indicated each Frontier customer must call and request account credit...............
As stated before, Frontier will offer a bill credit to any current customer who experienced a service disruption during our recent outage. According to long time company procedure, all the customer has to do is request the credit through our customer service department. If you have any additional questions, please give me a call at either of my numbers listed below so we can discuss directly.
Ron Belin, Area General Manager
The information provided by Belin was not consistent with information provided by Frontier customer service employees staffing the toll free line. Several neighbors were informed credit would automatically be applied to their account. One neighbor was told they have to request credit after the outage. I was given different explanations by Frontier customer service employees, revealing Frontier is incapable of staffing service centers with well trained employees. One Frontier rep informed me Frontier will automatically credit accounts if Frontier was responsible for the outage, but if another party (such as a utility company) was responsible it would be necessary to pursue reimbursement from the party responsible for the outage. Several Frontier customer service reps told me credit would be automatic once Frontier is made aware of the problem. Does Frontier train personnel to mislead customers in order to bolster the bottom line, i.e., misinform customers account will be automatically credited to prevent them from requesting credit after outages? Does Frontier implement internal safeguards to insure customer service reps are properly trained, and responding to issues by providing accurate information to customers?
Why was I receiving conflicting information every time Frontier was contacted? A top level Frontier customer service employee indicated the information I received was not accurate and requested the name of the employee. It became woefully obvious Frontier not only requires customers to grovel in order to receive reimbursement for outages, they expect hapless customers to identify employees who they fail to train properly. Why was Frontier corporate telling me they do not issue credit automatically, and why were many customer service reps indicating otherwise? Was Frontier reimbursed by NIPSCO to compensate each customer, but refrained from doing so, unless a customer contacted them and requested credit?
One of the most important facts uncovered during my interaction with neighbors impacted by the was only a small percentage were inclined to contact Frontier to request credit. What was that number? 15 to 20 percent based on my sampling. Could this paltry number explain why Frontier does not issue automatic reimbursement? They must certainly be aware of the fact they are in the position to take advantage of the situation by failing to issue automatic credit. Why should Frontier be concerned with making restitution to 250, 500 or 1000 customers when they realize a small percentage will request credit due to a service outage. It stands to reason Frontier charged NIPSCO to reimburse every customer who lost service. It would appear Frontier is the position to benefit financially at the expense of victimized customers, by only reimbursing customers who request account credit.
Prior to submitting this report I provided several corporate level Frontier employees the opportunity to respond, but none prove capable of responding to issues presented, other than robotic "each customer must request credit after an outage", and insincere lip service "thank you for being a loyal Frontier customer".