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September 19, 2019

8/15/2019 2:41:00 PM
Frontier state review: final comments on possible settlement being accepted

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, with the Dept. of Commerce,  have been looking into issues with Frontier Communications service quality, customer service and billing practices for about two years.  

Frontier and Citizen Telecommunications, (collectively now Frontier Communications of MN),   was granted until August 2 to settle issues with state regulators and mediators.  And, precisely on August 2 there was a settlement filed.  

The utilities commission is now taking final comments until September 4 on the settlement conditions.  (For a full text of all the several pages of settlement stipulations you can go to the MNPUC website and search e dockets and use 18-122 for the docket number.)

Settlement highlights include:
~ requiring Frontier to give out a debit card, do an electronic fund transfer or write a check for days of service missed by future customers.  The future customer is one who comes on board after the Public Utilities Commission acts on the settlement.  There has not been an agenda date set for the MN PUC to act.  Comments close September 4, so it would be after that date.

In the stipulations, existing customers would get a bill credit.  Credit is $5 a day for residential and $10 for commercial, plus an adjustment of one-thirtieth of the monthly bill for each day phone service did not exist.  

Frontier will have 24 hours to reinstate service to phone customers, unless it’s a tornado or act of god that impacts 50 or more customers.

~ Customers who stayed at home awaiting a service call for a repair ticket and a Frontier serviceperson failed to show up, will get a $25 credit.

~ There will be a bill credit if a customer tries to get hold of Frontier on an 1-800--number and has longer than a 10-minute wait or the call is not answered.

~ Failure to reinstate basic phone service in more than 10 days will double the credit rates.

~ Frontier will notify customers in print, on their rights to service and timeframes to file for credit, for medical special services, etc.

~ Frontier will have power backup systems at central offices or permanent generators.

~ Frontier will give the state a “bill dispute resolution plan” within 90 days of the Commission acting on the proposed settlement.

The Minnesota Commerce Department has been getting complaint summaries from Frontier and forwards these to the utilities commission including how Frontier has resolved these actual complaint cases and how long it took.  This will continue under the settlement for two years.

Commerce officials point out in a letter to the PUC  the settlement does nothing to address Internet issues and complaints about broadband marketing, however.  This process has been directed at telecommunications issues only.

Open topics for comment include what actions should the Public Utilities Commission take-- should it approve, deny or modify the proposed settlement stipulations?

To be heard, go to mn.gov/puc and select “speak Up” to locate this docket (18-122) and add your comments. As an option, use direct e mail at consumer@state.mn.us

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