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April 15, 2009

FairPoint Followup

Local-phone Right on the heels of our story in this issue about massive problems with telecommunications company FairPoint, we received a related email from Shaline Kirkpatrick, owner of Shaline Bridal in Montpelier.

In January, Kirkpatrick canceled her Internet service, but FairPoint canceled her phone service instead. Oops. When she called to inquire as to why she was still receiving Internet bills, she learned what had happened. As she tried to fix this problem over the weeks, they informed her that she might lose her business number of the past eight years, and her phone service was actually cut off Tuesday morning — during the height of prom and bridal season.

Kirkpatrick claims that the FairPoint rep she managed to contact would not let her speak directly to a supervisor and requested that she leave a call-back number, which she refused because they had not returned her phone calls in months. The operator then hung up on her.

At this point, Ms. Kirkpatrick called the Public Service Board, and the woman she spoke to there assured her that she would call FairPoint. Her partner also made some calls. Thankfully, this morning her phone service was back on. Now she has to deal with the paperwork and repercussions of this incident — including getting the word out to anyone who called yesterday that she is, in fact, still in business.

So, how is FairPoint treating you? Please leave a comment and let us know.

Recently our home phone service was down - 1st time in maybe 10 years. When I called to report the problem, the phone rep asked me if it was an inside problem or an outside problem (wait, like I'm supposed to know?). He then instructed me to go outside (in 30-degree weather) and open the box to check the line. I would need a corded phone. And a Phillips-heads screwdriver. I was incredulous. I always thought that was THEIR job!

The guy was totally hostile and sarcastic, implying the problem (which turned out to be a "bad line") was my fault. Incredibly bad customer service.

With the conversion of our DSL service and email addresses from Verizon to Fairpoint, I've had jaw-dropping problems too numerous to describe. My experience was always good with Verizon's DSL customer service support. There were dedicated Mac techs. Not so with Fairpoint. The customer service attitude is lackadaisical; the skill level is incompetent.

With no cable option here in the Islands, we're stuck.

I recently moved from Williston to Burlington and wanted to continue my land line service. After being on hold for 40 minutes(!), a rep informs me that the switch over would happen but would take 2 weeks. The next morning I received a voicemail telling me my new phone number and that I was in the system for the switch. OK, so waiting 2 weeks seemed a bit odd for just a switch over but I was willing to be patient.

Three weeks pass and I'm irked. I call again and after another 20 minute wait, I'm told my order was canceled! I'll have to wait another 10 days to get service. I have to push through a lot of resistance for some type of compensation - free voicemail or something and then also have to remind them to not charge me for the last month of service as I didn't have a working phone. Then the rep says that I may not have the new number any longer. But I've been telling people that's my new number! She promises to call me back the next day with an update.

No call and still no service after the 10 days. I try again and this rep says, "Honestly, I deal with people like you from 8am - 5:30. I'm not trying to be disinterested but I hear complaining all day." She promises to call back the next day with an update. No call either. So still no land line here in downtown Burlington, not the Islands or the NE Kingdom, but right here in Burlington.

The Public Service Board grilled Fairpoint big wigs before approving the sale. Their primary concern was that Fairpoint would not be able to handle the switch and the volume that they'd have to deal with. They have not faired well. Thankfully their are options in Morrisville, like porting your home number to Comcast, or to At+t or Verizon Wireless, or, even better, using Powershift for internet and using VOIP. Even though Powershift uses Fairpoints infrastructure, then seem to be able to fix problems fast, and they are human, and care - because of their scale.

Ms Kirkpatrick should sue Fairpoint.

Steve in Morrisville

My roommates and I ordered internet service from FairPoint, because we thought it was less sleazy than going to Comcast. We were supposed to start service, and receive a package, the 1st of April. It never showed up. After many phone calls, with no response, they finally told us they had no address for us, but had our phone number? Yet no one ever called? We have since given up, they have yet to send it or start our service, even though they have our address now. That company is useless, and should just shut down. It isn't just a lack of good customer service, it is zero customer service.

Well, I really have no problems with Fair Point. This doesn't mean that there WERE no problems, but it does mean that the problems I had were solved pretty quickly.

I like the phrase above, "jaw-dropping problems too numerous to describe," which perfectly describes our FairPoint experience. We survived the switch from Verizon to FP without incident, but unfortunately, three weeks later we moved two blocks over in the same neighborhood, and the last 10 weeks (including five of no connection at all) have been astoundingly bad.

The worst of many problems (now that we're reconnected) comes because when we moved, FP somehow got the idea that I had requested our Internet connection speed to be cut in half. I have asked seven (maybe eight) separate times in phone calls to different customer service reps to have our former (feeble) DSL connection restored to its original state.

On five occasions they agreed, and then nothing was done. On a sixth occasion I was passed on to a supervisor who said the situation was so confusing she didn't understand it, and she'd have to call back. Most recently a woman who wouldn't connect me to her supervisor said that he would call back. Number of return calls received: 0. Although to be fair, maybe they did try. Our current Internet connection is so slow that our phone — a VOIP line — has ceased to work much of the time.

The really annoying thing is that, for whatever reason, FP is the only non-cable (we don't have a TV) choice for Internet service in Shelburne. I was visiting a friend recently out in Huntington, which is barely civilization (I'm trying to keep my sense of humor here), and his internet connection is 7x (!) the speed of mine.

I would switch to gmavt (or Sovernet) immediately, but can't.

Finally, I would like to say that, with the exception of the annoying woman I started yelling at today, all of the FP customer service reps I have dealt with (a number now approaching double figures) have been pleasant and professional. (Unlike those often found these days at other companies, for example, they all seem to speak English.) Some have even seemed exceptionally intelligent, but the computer systems they are dealing with seem to be, as your article said in another context, "a fundamental failure." The first time I called the company, in fact, a month before our move (which unfortunately happened to be at the height of the changeover), the CS rep told me that they had no record of our account, or indeed anyone's record at that point, and he told me to call back in a few weeks.

Also two more positive (if that word can be used in this context) notes: 1) the time spent on hold has dropped in the last six weeks from over half an hour to, some days, barely 10 minutes. 2) The one human from FP that I've met personally was outstanding. (He reached our house, unbelievably, after being sent by his own company to the wrong address, about six miles away — an address we have never had any connection with.) In the course of helping us get reconnected about a month too late, he said that in his opinion, FP in the long run will turn out to be a better company for Vermont than Verizon. If they survive this horrendous (not his word) beginning.


I, too, have noticed that my home internet connection has slowed dramatically in the past month or so. I've tried everything I can think of to tinker with it short of calling them. I haven't wanted to call because of all the horror stories.

I live in Winooski, and also have no choice but to use them because we don't have a TV, so don't get cable.

That said, they were able to port our home number to our cell phone (because we're cancelling our land line). They told us the land line would be shut off a couple days ago, and it hasn't been, but otherwise, we've been happy with their service in that regard.

I've had numerous issues so far, at my office and home. At the office my phone line was delayed, then it didn't have voicemail for about a week or more, then I didn't have long distance. About 5 phone calls later with anywhere from 20-45 minute waits, It's finally working just as it should be.

When I ordered DSL for my home at the beginning of April, they said I'd be up and running by today or tomorrow. I still hadn't received my modem yesterday, so I called customer service and, after the uual wait, they said they didn't have my order number, name or address on file. Someone's supposed to call me back by today, but I have serious doubts that I'll be up and running by tomorrow.

As I feared, no service will be up tomorrow. They did call, but only to say 'we found your order and it's stalled, but we don't know why. hope to get you up and running sometime next week.' At least the people I've been speaking to seem to be in a much better mood lately!

I have worked with Verizon for a very long time before Fairpoint bought them out. I provide tech support for a number of businesses with T1 lines. The few problems we have had after Fairpoint took over were solved by local Fairpoint techs very quickly and professionally. Before with Verizon - I would end up talking with a tech from Boston who knew nothing about were I was in Vermont. Fairpoint's service has been exceptional - they call me back when they say they are and the problems are always resolved quickly. I have also had the pleasure of meeting with their sales and planning reps for bigger projects. They were very knowledgeable, professional, and willing to give me 100% of their time. Keep up the good work Fairpoint!!

Very few issues with Burlington Telecom so far... Maybe they could expand.

Not to make light of any of the situations above, but I'm surprised that any of you are surprised at all!

Any of the major telecom providers suck. You will get the same level of terrible customer service from Faripoint that you got from Verizon or would get from Time-Warner or Comcast.

Those of you who have it available to them should go with a small, locally-owned and operated provider (ie Burlington Telecom). You'll be happy you did!

I've stayed far away from FairPoint, as it's obvious there's something deeply wrong with them just from their distorted vibe. No offense to them personally, of course, as I'm sure they're just trying to be cheap enough to scrape a dime-- market economics does that to people. :-/


Wow......I cannot begin to express my frustrations with this company. I too, was hung up on by a customer service rep. It finally took my 7 weeks to get my residential phone line re-connected after a recent move, even though, I had contacted them an additional 10 weeks in advance of my move. Finally, I had a friend, who knew a friend, who had a friend who worked at the Hinesburg Road location, who finally helped me. I could have and should have applied for a credit for the nearly two months I did not have phone servcie, but I dreaded dealing with the company so badly, that I just said "forget it! My time is more valuable" that that. I strongly recommend ditching your land line; stick with cell phones if you want any type of customer service. How is it possible that a company can treat customers so poorly?

I hope all of you whiners spent the hours I did writing/calling my politicians trying to stop the sale. It was a highly publicized 2 year debate with attorneys from Labor saying it would not work, and that customer service would severly suffer. If any of you sat back and said "well fairpoint wants to be here, we should give them a chance", and supported the sale, then in my opinion you got what deserve....Enjoy

My 88 year old grandmother switched to FairPoint and they left her without service for nearly three weeks (she doesn't have the luxury of a cell phone). How can a switchover take that long in the 21st Century? If you dialed her number during the so-called "switch over" the message said her service was disconnected and no further information was available. They could have at least used a recording that said the number is TEMPORARILY out-of-order or something more informative! I also have many issues with them, but as Joe noted, if I didn't write to my state officials, I shouldn't complain.

I have never had other choice for internet or phone service. I have complained about their service for the 17yrs I have lived here. The only cable provider we have is also fairpoint, which I ordered and canceled quickly. It worked less than a 1/3 of the time. I am considering Direct Tv, but then when weather is bad you would not have any service. Any suggestions or ideas would be greatly appreciated.

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