Help! These phone charges don’t make any sense

Why is R.K. Mohan getting mysterious bills from Frontier? He isn’t even a customer. I investigate.

Question: I was a Verizon customer for over two years, subscribing to their internet and cable TV services. Verizon recently sold its internet division to Frontier Communications. I went through two cycles of billing with Frontier and then the problems started.

I started having interruptions in both services for extended periods of time. I made numerous calls to Frontier customer service and technical support, getting different people each time and not having any success.

Finally, my wife was able to get one kind soul to help and provide us with her email address. After several failed attempts to resolve this, she suggested that she would cancel our account and reinstate the services under another account number.

After a few more attempts, internet and cable TV services were restored. We were promised service credits for the days that we did not have service. We did not receive the credits and, to add insult to injury, we were billed installation charges for the new account number as well as late fees.

I explained all of this to Frontier in a letter sent by certified mail. I paid the amount owed and then notified them, in writing, that I was canceling my service with Frontier, effective with the end of the next billing cycle.

We were assured in writing that the cancellation would be taken care of. We received two billing statements, one showing a credit for $148 for the old account number and another for $458 for the new account number.

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I have now received a past due notice for the amount of $292, which includes a charge for “directory” service. But I have never had phone service with Verizon or Frontier and the charges do not make any sense.

We do not owe Frontier anything. We have canceled our services and would like to return the equipment that we were renting from Verizon. Can you help? — R.K. Mohan, Flower Mound, Texas

Answer: What a mess! Switching accounts shouldn’t have been necessary, but once you did, Frontier should have quickly fixed the billing error.

The switchover from Verizon to Frontier was a disaster, and not just for you. At about the same time your service problems were unfolding, a California legislator called the widespread problems “alarming” and called on the company to resolve them swiftly.

This was a series of unfortunate events that was entirely avoidable. I publish executive contacts for Frontier Communications on my site, and a brief, polite email might have eventually found its way to the right person.

Knowing what I know now, if I had the same situation — where you were essentially dealing with the same company — I might have skipped straight to the cancellation. You should have found a better service provider with more reasonable rates.

Frontier failed to meet its own goals, which are clearly outlined on its site. They include: “Do it right the first time,” “keep our commitments,” and “be accountable.”
Enough said.

I contacted Frontier on your behalf. A representative called you, apologized for the trouble, and zeroed your account balance.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at Read more of Christopher's articles here.

  • The Original Joe S

    Bring the equipment back, get a signed receipt, make a video as you hand it back, send ’em a letter telling them to go away, and a draft of small claims court action to show ’em you mean business. If they persist, complain to the government.

  • Byron Cooper

    Frontier Communications advertises “Broadband internet” in Washington DC, where I live. The promised speeds are from 5 MBPS to 12 MBPS. According to the FCC, the minimum download for a provider to call themselves Broadband is 25 MBPS. Billing issues are regulated at the state level for TV, phones, and internet. If Frontier is representing anything less than 25 MBPS as “Broadband”, you may have an FCC complaint also. Verizon delivers DSL service here and it is very slow. The Verizon Broadband is FIOS.

  • Harvey-6-3.5

    While happy for the OP, how many other customers were treated poorly but didn’t find Chris on the internet?

  • LeeAnneClark

    IMPORTANT: return that equipment and GET PROOF! And hang onto it forever. If you don’t you may end up where I am.

    Three years ago my son was getting cable/internet from Cox Communications. The account was in my name. He moved, and we cancelled the service and returned the equipment in the box they provided.

    Over a year later I discovered that my credit rating had dropped, due to a $175 charge from Cox that they sent to collections for the box that they say they never got back.

    I never even got a bill! I only found out because we were trying to buy a house, and couldn’t get the mortgage approved. I tried to clear it up through Cox, but they’d already referred it to a collections agency. I disputed the charge with the collections agency, who believed me and zeroed it out, and my credit rating returned to normal (and we bought our house). But then a few months ago I started getting calls from yet ANOTHER collections agency – Cox sent it to another one! And my credit rating has dropped again.

    I tried disputing it with this second agency, but they won’t give up. And I can’t get Cox to remove the charge. I don’t have any proof of the equipment return – it’s now been three years! I don’t keep receipts that long.

    So now I’m stuck with a crappy credit rating, all because of a $175 charge I don’t owe, for equipment that I returned.

  • BubbaJoe123

    The FCC uses 25Mbps internally as their benchmark for “Broadband” for a particular purpose (completing an annual report required by Congress). That doesn’t mean that it’s in any way illegal or an FCC violation for a provider to call their service Broadband.

    It’s also worth pointing out that 25Mbps just happens to be 1Mbps above the typical speed for AT&T’s U-Verse service, so by setting it there, the FCC was able to claim that cable operators had a much larger share of the “broadband” market than if they had set it at 24Mbps. The fact that being able to claim a higher share for cable was helpful in making the case against the Time Warner Cable/Comcast deal was, I’m sure, purely coincidental.

  • Byron Cooper

    I was really trying to say that the OP wasn’t getting decent internet service for the price. Verizon did not sell its dsl lines in DC to Frontier. The only way to get really high speed internet here is through Comcast or in a few areas, FIOS.

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