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WIld Mountain 12-8-13

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January 20, 2020

1/9/2020 3:43:00 PM
Frontier under new review for 'overcharging'

The regulators at the state Department of Commerce are opening another investigation into Frontier (Citizen) Telecommunications.  

There was a nearly two-year review of the company’s reliability of service and how it handled customer complaints, which included a public hearing held by an administrative law judge at Wyoming City Hall, attended by hundreds.

That effort wrapped up last fall. (Story Oct. 17 Press) The final settlement awaits the Public Utilities Commission to issue final orders, and then customers could file claims for remedies described in the settlement.  The PUC agreed on increasing Frontier accountability for consumer complaints, laying out timelines for responding,  and levels of credits to accounts for failing to respond to customers’ needs related to telecommunications reliability issues.

MN Dept. of Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley announced that this new opportunity to scrutinize other “primary issues” related to the company’s operations is underway.  In a December news release, he said, “We are concerned about Frontier’s practices when customers are signing up for service and the prospect that Minnesotans are being “overcharged” for their phone service.  

The MN Department of Commerce is developing this phase  of evidence for the Public Utilities Commission to base later actions on.  The list of possible issues people should submit comments on, includes Frontier (Citizen) billing practices like:

~ Frontier did not offer stand along local phone service with no additional features
~ You were told you would lose your Internet service should you disconnect local phone service
~ If you were told Internet can not be purchased unless you also buy a local phone service plan
~ Frontier does not identify the long distance provider on your bill.
~ Was long distance added onto your phone account without your knowledge or consent
~ If you are billed for Digital Phone Essentials (30 minutes of long distance)at $29.99  but were not made aware that “long distance only Digital Essentials” is available at $8 less than that per month.
~ If you were unaware you can pay for long distance as it’s used-- instead of being billed $39.99 for an unlimited long distance package.
The Public Utilities Commission regulates companies providing local and long distance telecommunications services in Minnesota. Frontier and its affiliate Citizens reportedly have 90,000 Minnesota business and household customers.

To submit comment about not being informed about service options or if you were enrolled in service plans you didn’t ask for -- Dept of Commerce is at 651-539-1883 or e mail your comments to telecom.commerce@state.mn.us.

Consumers are encouraged to always let the state know whenever they encounter difficulties dealing with a utility.  In this investigative effort, however,  Dept. of Commerce wants to gather as much information it can to prepare for providing a report to the Public Utilities Commission;  so customers should connect with the department by end of January, if possible, according to Emma Bauer, Director of Communications.

Consumers who shared experiences during the 2018-2019 investigation into Frontier/Citizens do not need to re-submit that information, she added, unless they need to include unreported concerns with sales, billing and contract tactics.


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WIld Mountain 12-8-13

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