by Kate Shunney
A number of Morgan County residents have complained in recent weeks about increased Frontier internet outages and wait times to get company technicians to fix their service.
In some cases, local customers have been told they must wait up to 20 days for a technician to respond to a trouble ticket.
Frontier spokesman Andy Malinoski had few answers to questions about whether lengthy response times or outages were a local problem or part of a wider company trend.
“Our technicians are working diligently to address the delay in the area you have inquired about. We have allocated additional resources to address the workload caused by recent weather and flooding damage in the area,” Malinoski said in an email this week.
Kevin Young lives on Turkey Buzzard Lane near Bennett Lane and says that all households in that neighborhood — possibly as many as eight homes — lost internet service on July 5. He was told a technician could come to address the problem by July 25.
Connie Vilhauer lives off Peter Yost Road, lost internet on July 4 and has been told not to expect a technician until July 24.
Both say the lack of internet service is a daily inconvenience. Vihauer uses her internet connection for phone service, and has had to rely on her cell phone while the internet was down.
Both Vilhauer and Young said they have made multiple phone calls to Frontier to try and expedite the service response, but have been told there is a backlog of service requests.
Vilhauer said she called the state’s Public Service Commission to ask about filing a utility complaint against Frontier, but was told the PSC has no jurisdiction to step in. Instead, they directed her to the Attorney General’s office. Staff there said she could file a written complaint and it could be resolved within 30 days.
By then, Frontier may have sent a technician, she said.
The Morgan Messenger sought out data from the West Virginia Attorney General’s office earlier this month about the number and types of official written complaints about internet service and Frontier in Morgan County.
Curtis Johnson, press secretary for the Attorney Generals’ office, said the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division has received 13 complaints in 2017 and 2018 (year-to-date) from Morgan County regarding “Internet Services.” It represents the top-ranked category of complaints for each year, he said.
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division has received 14 complaints against Frontier in Morgan County for 2017 and so far in 2018.
The number and ranking is the product of written consumer complaints filed with the Consumer Protection Division. The tally does not include phone calls from consumers who did not follow up with a written complaint.
Meanwhile, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported on July 14 that several parties, including the Communications Workers of America – the union of Frontier workers – and the West Virginia Public Service Commission’s independent staff have been pushing for an investigation into Frontier’s copper network infrastructure and its customer service practices.
According to the Gazette-Mail, the case against Frontier has been open since March. It predominantly focuses on the older copper telecommunications system, but also includes complaints about delays in service and reliability issues for paying customers.