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AGING FRONTIER COMMUNICATIONS CUSTOMERS

frontier communications

image via oregonlive.com

What happens when Frontier Communications customer service talks to aging baby boomers?

For aging Frontier Communications customers who grew up with party line telephones and two channels on a black and white television, this is the Golden Age of media.

Lightning fast fiber optics speed data into slow, old, desktops, but it’s still faster than a dial-up modem. And quieter.

So many channels on television it boggles our aging baby boomer minds. Watch anything anytime with the DVR magic in a set top box.

And the telephone with free long distance is unreal. Free long distance?

How much does that cost?

Maybe it’s in the fine print, maybe it’s as bold as an H2 heading, but free long distance is not free international long distance.

If you want to call Europe you’ll get charged, so make it quick.

You’ll want to remember this in case a beloved English aunt dies and you make the condolence call.

When you get a bill with an additional $118.00 for a phone call, the tech savvy boomer call Frontier Communications to ask about it.

Right away your learn from a recording that your call may be recorded for quality assurance. That’s your cue to start your recorder.

You go through the normal protocol of answering questions by pushing phone number buttons, then hold until the next available service rep picks up.

During the wait you might wonder why such a high flying communications company like Frontier Communications has such bad audio on their wait line.

Then someone picks up. You give your account number, your pin number, the last four of your social, your birthday, your wife’s birthday.

And then:

“How may I help you?”

“I’ve got a bill that’s more than double my usual monthly. Can you check and tell me why?”

“Let me access your file.”

More bad audio and bad tune during another wait.

“Hello?”

“Yes, I see here you’ve spoken to many customer service reps and whatnot.”

“The first thing is the charge of $118 for a phone call.”

“Yes, you have free national long distance, not international. Your complaint went to our supervisor panel and was denied. Twice.”

“So that’s the end of it? We’ve been customers paying on time for years and make this mistake and there’s no forgiveness? On the first questionable expense there’s no credit?”

“It’s all in your contract and whatnot. Free national long distance.”

“No one makes a $118 phone call do they? It’s an accident on our part.”

“And the charges stand. How else may I help you?”

“I’ve called for months on faulty a DVR. And it still doesn’t work.”

“Yes, we’re authorized to forward a $25 dollar credit per year and we’ve done that. This issue went to a supervisor review and they agreed that we can’t possibly know if your DVR isn’t working if you don’t call in.”

“So far I’m feeling like you’re not moving off the total on the bill, more than twice my usual monthly.”

“We can set up a payment schedule with collections.”

“Thank you. I’d like to talk to your supervisor.”

“Yes. The wait is just more than an hour. Thank you.”

And the line went dead. So did I, but I revived.

Mike Rogoway at the Oregonian breaks it down in Cutting The Cord in 2013.

Now, I’m not suggesting you go without cable or satellite. Given unlimited financial resources, and more time to watch TV, I’d subscribe. But if you’re looking for an alternative, here’s what I’ve done and why:

For us, it all comes down to cost. The additional entertainment value cable provides simply isn’t worth the added cost — now roughly $1,000 annually, and rising by several percentage points every year.

It starts with an antenna. You might be surprised at how well an old pair of rabbit-ears works. Attached to a glistening new LCD screen, those rickety old wires will generally produce sharper reception than cable.

A year later he talked about fiber optic speed.

Frontier has had a residential fiber-optic network since it bought Verizon’s local operations four years ago. Fiber carries data traffic as pulses of light and has much greater capacity for online traffic than traditional copper phone lines.

“Getting into the market is the important thing,” Anderson said. He said Frontier offers more “aggressive” pricing on slower speeds — 30 mbps for $34.99 a month, and up to $15 less for customers who also subscribe to phone service — and will assess its gigabit pricing as market conditions change.

The company has fiber optics in Beaverton, Forest Grove, Gresham, Hillsboro, McMinnville, Newberg, Sherwood, Tigard, Tualatin, and Wilsonville.

The interesting part of both articles are the comments. Two and three years back people were unhappy.

How unhappy? More unhappy than aging Frontier Communications customers? I don’t think so. Why? Because Baby Boomers hear the clock ticking down and we want our last days spent watching the best video possible on our time.

No one’s asking to make international mourning calls every day for $118. Once was enough, and even once was too much to overlook at Frontier Communications.

If it looks like I’m playing the Age Card, it’s because I am playing the Age Card.

Breaking into your sixties is old enough for the age card, besides I have aging bonafides.

A recent KOIN 6 story played with this title:

Complaints say landscaper overcharges seniors

There have been 17 complaints filed against Al Sievers over almost 20 years

frontier communications

Image via DG Studios

Watch the video of the story and you’ll see the same thing I went through. And I wasn’t a senior then like I am now.

Mr. Sievers arrived after I called about an irrigation emergency. I’d dug up the main valve that was spouting water and couldn’t find the shut-off.

Mr. Sievers shut off the water, determined it was a plumbing problem, not an irrigation problem, and billed me about $800, then pulled a permit to come work on my system.

When I declined his work he sued me for what he would have charged for that job and took me to court.

During our meeting with a man where we could have avoided court Mr. Sievers decided the time was right to call out “the most despicable example of human waste he’d over seen.”

He said it looking at me with a special expression he probably showed others with good results. He was completely disgusted by being in the same room with me.

And he had a point. I told my side of the argument to the mediation man like this:

“If I went to a barber and got the worst haircut of my life that left me looking party Wolfman and part Frankenstein, I wouldn’t go back. You wouldn’t go back.

“The work he did on my sprinkler system, telling me it wasn’t a sprinkler problem, cost $800. I didn’t hire him back, but here we are.”

In court we told our stories and the judge found for Mr. Sievers. Outside the courtroom I was disappointed. Mr. Sievers stood nose to nose with me and said, “Will the payment be in check or cash,” with a sweet smile.

I said we will proceed according to the court orders, and that we ought to talk in front of a witness in case he slipped and fell.

I sent a check along with a court document for him to sign that said he is satisfied with the payment. If he signed, I’d take the paper back to court and file it with the case to protect my credit rating.

However, before sending the paper I called to say I was sending it, and got a feeling he wouldn’t sign. So along with the paper I wrote on the back of the check, “Cashing this check represents full and complete payment for Washington County court case # xxxxxxx on the day of xx/xx/xxxx between the two parties.”

Once I learned he’d cashed the check I got a copy and filed it with the court.

I’m older now and still not used to the senior swindle, or even the feeling.

How about you? Comments welcome.

About David Gillaspie
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