(Updated 7 p.m.) Customers who previously had AT&T Inc. landline, Internet, and video services were switched over to Stamford-based Frontier Communications over this past weekend and, for many, it’s been a bumpy transition. However, on Wednesday evening the company issued a statement apologizing to customers whose service had been interrupted, and also pledging to issue a billing credits to its customers by the end of the year.
Hundreds of customers have flocked to Frontier’s social media accounts, particularly the company’s Facebook page, in recent days to complain of service interruptions and problems. Many complaints have been about slow Internet speed, trouble accessing On Demand and DVR video services, and poor picture quality on high-definition channels.
Frontier recently acquired AT&T’s landline, broadband Internet, and video service operations in a $2 billion deal. The acquisition was first announced in December 2013, closed on Friday of last week, and Frontier began converting AT&T customers soon after on Saturday.
“I’ve been down since the cutover, no idea when I’ll have service,” new Frontier customer Gene Leganza said Tuesday. “I work from a home office and everything I do is online so I’ve been spending a lot of time at the library.”
Another new customer, Art Hendrickson Jr. of Waterbury, also has had problems. “I am experiencing issues with the transition,” he said. In addition to Internet connectivity issues, he said, “download speeds are very erratic.”
Hundreds of others commenters echoed their concerns.
Frontier has acknowledged the glitches and is working to resolve them. Frontier representatives have continually been responding to individual complaints on Facebook, advising customers with troubleshooting tips and posting directions for rebooting cable boxes and modems.
Frontier also has been fielding customer inquiries through online live chats and by phone.
As of Wednesday evening, the company still was working to resolve some problems but had issued a statement about the process of transitioning “hundreds of thousands” of AT&T customers, which started Saturday, Oct. 25:
“Approximately 99 percent of our customers experienced no service interruptions and for such a large and complex conversion, that is a substantial number. Fewer than 10,000 customers experienced some type of extended service interruption. These interruptions have been isolated and the issues customers have reported have been fixed or are being addressed as quickly as possible. But we appreciate that for those impacted customers it has been frustrating to deal with these service issues, and we apologize. Our staff is literally working around the clock to address each and every customer’s concern to their satisfaction. But our business isn’t about numbers — it’s about providing our customers with excellent service.”
The statement continued: “Because some of our Frontier TV Powered by U-verse® (Frontier TV) customers have experienced service interruptions, all customers will automatically receive a $50 billing credit by year-end. There is no need for customers to contact the company to receive this credit. Customers who experienced any substantial broadband disruption will receive a bill credit for the time without service. Frontier will call all customers who reported an outage and confirm the applicable credit on their bill.”
The company said it committed to building trust and confidence among its customers and also said they have had conversations throughout the transition with the office of state Attorney General George Jepsen, and “we have informed them that, consistent with our discussions and the Attorney General’s request, we will be applying credits to customers’ accounts.”
AT&T officials have said they worked with Frontier over the past 10 months leading up to the transition and will continue to support Frontier through the conversion process.
Many people in the state are affected by the change-over, and the volume of customers provides an idea of the scale of the work involved in the transition to new ownership. According to a statement issued by Frontier last week, the company acquired roughly 415,000 data, 875,000 voice, and 215,000 video connections in Connecticut, including AT&T’s business customers. As part of the deal, roughly 2,500 former AT&T Connecticut employees now work for Frontier.
In announcing the acquisition’s completion last week, Frontier Chairman and CEO Maggie Wilderotter said in a statement that the company “is excited to offer our products and services to customers in our home state.”
AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson said in that same statement: “Frontier’s solid reputation and track record for providing high-quality products and service to customers across the country” was a key factor in AT&T’s decision to sell Frontier its Connecticut operations.
Even after the conversion, AT&T still retains a presence in Connecticut, mainly with its cellphone service.