For more than six weeks, Lester Strait could not make a phone call from his house.
The Southlake resident said his landline service went dead with no dial tone shortly after Verizon transferred its business to Frontier Communications on April 1.
“If this was cable or this was Internet, while it would be a pain, that would be one thing,” said Strait, noting that he had three different appointments with Frontier technicians who never showed up to fix the problem. “But the phone is a safety issue. I want to be able to call 911 if I need to.”
Strait is one of hundreds of customers who have had difficulty dealing with Frontier Communications since it took over Verizon’s landline business in Texas.
“It was never our plan for these issues to affect our customers,” Rachel McGallian, vice president of marketing at Frontier’s south region, said in an interview Tuesday.
She apologized for the service issues that North Texas customers have experienced in the past few weeks. “Every customer who reported an outage to us will be issued a bill credit.”
Keller resident Erica Boutwell hopes she doesn’t have to pay for the nine days she spent without an Internet connection. Boutwell lives in a new neighborhood that is still under construction. A few months ago, a construction crew accidentally cut her fiber optic line, which Verizon came out and repaired the next day.
When the same thing happened again in April, Frontier took over a week to fix the problem. And it was repaired only after Boutwell’s husband flagged down a technician who was completing a repair a few houses down the street.
“We were excited that [our new neighborhood] was wired for Verizon FIOS because it was the best out there, and then six months later we find out we were sold to this mom-and-pop operation,” Boutwell said.
McGallian said the company has 450 technicians making service calls and on May 2 all of the former Verizon call center employees completed training to handle customer issues.
“It was a complex transaction,” McGallian said. “We’ve moved over 400 million data elements and at the same time we had severe weather that added to our challenges.”
Some customers, like Beril McManus, have had no service problems but are dealing with billing problems. McManus, who lives in Keller, is being charged $180 a month for Internet-only service. And after three online chats and eight phone calls to customer service, her bill is still not fixed.
“I’m happy to pay for what I’ve used as long as it’s the correct rate,” McManus said, calling the customer service “terrible.”
Frontier is decreasing its use of third-party call centers to improve its customer service experience, and call times have dropped below two minutes. It is also adding hundreds of thousands of new movie and TV titles to its video-on-demand service so customers will have a selection similar to what they had with Verizon.
Installation, however, is still taking about 14 days, McGallian said.
For north Fort Worth resident Brittanie Wright, her two-week wait to have Internet and television service installed at her new apartment complex has stretched to over a month.
Wright said she first called in mid-April to set an installation date and was told Frontier could not get to her apartment until May 20. Unexpectedly, she received a call from Frontier on Friday, saying an installer could be there Saturday. Wright said she waited all day and again Sunday and a technician never showed. And after repeated calls to customer service, Wright said she has no idea when her Internet service will be turned on.
“I just don’t know what to do,” Wright said. “My husband and I are trying to bum Wi-fi off our friends so we can actually get some work done.”