According to many of Malibu’s hundreds of Frontier Communications customers, dealing with the company’s billings since the Woolsey Fire was a nightmare. Many customers had no services from Frontier for at least a month after the fire, yet they continue to be billed as if they did have those services. When some customers called asking for credit or a refund, they were told the credit will show up on the next bill; many times, it didn’t. Residents have spent hours on the phone with Frontier, only to find out the next billing cycle that the problem still was not resolved.
In addition, Frontier billed a number of customers for equipment that burned up in the fire, charging customers amounts that ranged from $400 to $1,200.
When some Malibu customers refused to pay the disputed bills, Frontier gave their accounts to credit and collection agencies and their credit scores were downgraded.
Fed up, some of Malibu’s Frontier customers contacted reporter Kristine Lazar at CBS2 News, of the “Two on Your Side” consumer segment, for help. The story aired on Feb. 4; on it, Frontier agreed to give all Malibu customers credit dating back to Nov. 9, the day of the fire. At least two customers reported on social media that Frontier resolved their billing problems as a result of the television report. Others continued to have problems.
One disgruntled Frontier customer, Christopher Carradine on Kanan, gave this account: “I finally reached an individual at Frontier who seemed to actually know how to do his job. My house was lost on Nov. 9. I learned it was gone on Nov. 11 and called Frontier and cancelled my account. Frontier auto-billed me on Nov. 24, then again Dec. 24. Multiple inane phone calls produced no relief. I shut off auto-pay. They billed me again, which then went unpaid (duh, no auto-pay), and so it went ‘delinquent’ to collection and dinged my FICO. More phone calls. How can I be delinquent for not paying for a cancelled burned-down service that doesn’t exist?”
Dozens of other Malibu Frontier customers shared their frustrations on social media.
The Malibu Times contacted Frontier’s West Region media office; they offered to investigate and resolve any accounts still having problems.
“We certainly don’t want these accounts going to collections,” said Javier Mendoza, vice president, corporate communications and external affairs.
In a statement emailed to TMT, Frontier said: “Frontier thanks our customers and the Malibu community for their patience as we work to finish rebuilding infrastructure to keep Malibu connected for years to come. From the outset of the Woolsey Fire, Frontier has been at work protecting, maintaining and repairing infrastructure. Frontier is providing out-of-service credit to all the customers with a trouble ticket since Nov. 9, 2018, date where the Woolsey fire reached Malibu. The account will be credited immediately and Frontier will waive early termination fee and equipment charges with proof that a residence has been lost.”
According to the company, infrastructure repairs and restoration are nearly complete, after replacing 150 poles and about 85 miles of cables.
For those still experiencing issues: “We encourage them to contact Frontier at 800.921.8101 for residences or 800.921.8102 for businesses,” the statement said. In addition, any customers still experiencing fire-related billing issues may email the Frontier account holder’s name and account number to reporter Jimy Tallal at email@example.com; she will compile a list and coordinate with Mendoza on getting them resolved.
Information Resources and FAQs:
• Customers can also call 800.921.8101 for residences or 800.921.8102 for businesses to report any fallen telephone poles or cables, and/or service interruptions.
Additional contact options to Frontier include:
• Customer Service Contact Information frontier.com/contact-us
• In-Language Billing and Service resources, please call:
Español: 800.921.8103 / Korean: 844.320.4423 / Cantonese: 844.320.4421 / Japanese: 844.320.4422 / Tagalog: 844.320.4425
Q: Some customers who did not call in a trouble ticket in the midst of evacuations say they are being told they will only get credit from the time they call in a trouble ticket.
A:Frontier is providing out-of-service credit to all the customers with a trouble ticket since Nov. 9, 2018, date where the Woolsey fire reached Malibu. The account will be credited immediately.
Q: Some customers are getting texts saying they are restored but their lines are still not working. Do they need to call in and get a new ticket to continue getting credit?
A: Yes. If a customer was told have been restored but still out-of-service, we need a trouble ticket identifying them as affected by Woolsey Fire. They should please call and ask for trouble ticket to get continued credit.
Q: Customers who have suffered a total loss are being asked to return their equipment. What is our policy on this?
A: Frontier will waive early termination fee and equipment charges with proof that a residence has been lost.