Embattled Frontier Communications opens 2 new retail stores in Pomona, Norwalk
Frontier Communications, whose expansion into California, Texas and Florida resulted in thousands of service-related complaints and billing issues, has opened two retail stores in Southern California.
The Pomona location at 280 S. Locust St. opened Thursday and the Norwalk store at 12351 Imperial Highway was up and running Wednesday. They will offer customers “a higher level of personal interaction, facilitate local community engagement and enhance Frontier’s business presence in the region,” the company said.
Featuring interactive demo stations, HD flat-screen TVs and company staff, the Frontier Premier stores are designed as venues where customers can evaluate and purchase a variety of high-tech communications and entertainment products and services Frontier offers for the home, office and business.
But the stores will likely also serve as complaint centers for customers who have suffered through everything from internet outages and spotty telephone service to equipment failures, bills for services they didn’t receive and telephone outages that impacted access to 911 service.
The California Public Utilities Commission logged 1,564 service-related complaints from Frontier customers between April 1 — when the Stamford, Connecticut-based company acquired Verizon’s Internet, video, phone and Fios networks for $10.5 billion — and the end of September. When billing complaints are added in, the total jumps to 2,157.
Those problems fueled a hearing earlier this year before the state Assembly’s Utilities and Commerce Committee, which is chaired by Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Burbank.
On Thursday the CPUC addressed the issue of impacted 911 services at a meeting held in Long Beach.
Cameron Christian, Frontier’s vice president of marketing, said the complaints have actually served a purpose.
“In my perspective, the integration is shining a light on things that have happened with our network,” he said. “But we feel like we’re back to normal day-to-day operations now. Still, you have to remember that with a network this size there will always be someone who is experiencing problems they need help with.”
Figures from the CPUC show that the number of complaints has fallen dramatically.
In April, 503 service-related complaints were received, and they reached a high of 624 the following month. But the numbers declined in subsequent months, dropping to just 62 in September.
Christian said service outages are typically broad in nature with some being caused by outside factors, such as a car running into a power transmission box. A failure to access 911 service, he said, is only a piece of the outage.
“When a customer is experiencing service trouble that’s often expressed as not being able to dial 911,” he said. “But when someone’s phone service isn’t working they wouldn’t be able to reach anyone.”
Gatto said the CPUC should have been more proactive in advance of Frontier’s move into California.
“They could have done a lot more to put anticipatory conditions on the merger,” he said. “California was not the first state where a transition occurred. There were problems in several other states before this. I would question whether we learned our lesson from that. … It’s disheartening.”
Customers who visit Frontier’s new stores can learn about Frontier Secure, a suite of products and services that includes solutions for device security, identity theft and credit protection. They also feature interactive stations that showcase “smart” home tools that aid in automating key household areas, such as climate control, smoke detection and security. The stores have a no-cash-transaction policy and will not offer set-top box drop-off, exchanges or bill paying services.