The department of commerce of Minnesota has filed an inquiry report probing Frontier Communications (NASDAQ:FTR) for their failure to provide Minnesota customers with satisfactory and dependable phone and internet services.
The report recommends that the company should credit or refund their customers for an outage of services as well as for illegal billing. The report equally recommends that the company should hire additional staff so that they can improve customer service and an increase in infrastructure and equipment investments.
The company’s coverage comprises the whole state of Minnesota with a considerable portion being the north-eastern region. The company has however disputed the report, and they maintain that they are committed to delivering quality services to their customers.
The PUC investigation
The Public Utilities Committee of Minnesota opened up the inquiry sometime last year after receiving a series of complaints from customers in 2017 over the billing process, service quality and the customer service of Frontier Communications.
During the investigation, the PUC received over 1000 submissions of customer statements and complaints. Of the series of allegations raised, approximately 250 customers complained about phone service with an additional 400 complaining about phone and internet service access. There were 325 reports about internet access only with approximately 150 customers reporting about the service not readily apparent.
The PUC report indicated that most of the issues raised by consumers directly violated the Minnesota law and Commission rules and it shows wide-ranging and systemic difficulties of Frontier’s service quality, their business operations as well as record keeping.
Some of the complaints that the customers raised included;
- Service repair and delays in restoring services
- Recurring and prolonged service outages
- Often repeated billing errors
- Botched equipment repair and maintenance
- Untimely response to customer requests
- Failure to offer quick responses to service outage especially for vulnerable customers who needed urgent medical care
- Biased practices regarding on what they could prioritize on with most incidences indicating that the company focused on new installations at the expense of repairs of the already existing service. Equally the company had a prevalence of providing slower repairs for rural areas relative to populated areas.
According to the filed report, it is only a fraction of the population that had challenges with Frontier communications that took their time to attend the public hearing and make a public comment on the issue as well as reporting concerns to a relevant government agency similar to all concerns about regulatory agencies.
The response of Frontier Communications to the report
When asked about the report, Frontier indicated that they are strongly disputing the assertions made by the department of commerce’s’ previous recommendations and they were looking at reviewing the filing with the Public Utilities Commission of Minnesota.
Frontier further indicates that its employees are very hard working in ensuring that they provide dependable and affordable telecom services to over their 90,000 customers across the state of Minnesota. They are mostly concerned about the rural communities where no provider would otherwise reconsider to invest to offer phone and internet services.
Equally Frontier acknowledges that they occasionally experience service challenges and delays with some of their customers, but it is an issue under consideration. The statement responding to the report further indicates that Frontier is an ethical company and that they are committed to their customers and the communities they serve across the state of Minnesota.
The company indicates that they are taking the complaints issue seriously and they expect to respond appropriately to the matter that is before the Public Utilities Commission for review.
Frontier stock price
The company in the latest closing indicated an increase of +7.26% with a closing price of $2.51. The company recorded a daily low of $2.39 and a high of $2.53 with share volume of 2.7 million. The company has a market capitalization of $260.37 million and they had a 52-week range low of $2.02 and a high of $11.63.