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Tampa Bay customers still frustrated by Frontier’s spotty service

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When there’s something strange about your Frontier Communications service, who you gonna call?

Or rather, who you gonna call that can actually do something about it? In Florida, it’s not clear.

On April 1, Frontier took over Verizon‘s landline, internet and cable TV service in Florida, specifically for Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota customers.

Since then, thousands of customers have taken to the company’s Facebook page to complain of outages, poor service and sudden billing increases. California and Texas are the two other states affected by Frontier’s takeover.

“If I ran my organization like this I would be out of business,” said the most recent comment on Monday from a Texas customer. “You should be ashamed, and your CEO should issue a public apology for the abysmal service you are providing.”

A Frontier spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, in a Monday statement, said his office has gotten “144 complaints, eclipsing in one month the 111 complaints Verizon had received in a one-year period.” Putnam’s office also handles consumer protection issues.

Putnam doesn’t regulate telecommunications, however.

“While we do not have oversight over Frontier Communications, we’re here to advocate on behalf of Florida’s consumers,” he said. “… I encourage Floridians to contact my department so we can assist.”

The state’s Public Service Commission also doesn’t oversee the company. A spokeswoman said the agency lost its regulatory power over many telecommunications services in 2011 at the hands of the Legislature and governor.

That leaves the Federal Communications Commission, roughly 900 miles away from downtown Tampa.

Putnam’s statement said he’s “calling on Frontier Communications to resolve customer issues,” but doesn’t make clear what immediate effect he can have. His spokeswoman did not respond to a question.

“As the state’s clearinghouse for consumer complaints, the department educates the public, investigates complaints and provides mediation on behalf of consumers,” the statement said.

“The department’s call center is staffed with trained analysts who can respond to questions about programs and regulations under the department’s purview, provide information on a wide variety of topics or direct callers to the appropriate government agency.”

To try to seek redress from Frontier, contact the company at [email protected] or 1-800-921-8101. To register a complaint with Putnam’s office, call 1-800-HELP-FLA or visit his website.

5:30 p.m. update: Attorney General Pam Bondi issued her own statement later Monday, saying she had sent a letter to the company “requesting better customer service for Floridians.”

The letter says her office has received 128 complaints, including “seniors who have lost essential 911 services as the result of disruptions in landline service.”

“This is not acceptable,” Bondi wrote.

“Consumers have also complained about being placed on hold for up to two hours and poor customer service once they do reach a Frontier representative,” her statement added. “Many report receiving higher-than-expected fees when trying to cancel accounts.”

She asked Frontier customers to file a complaint with the Florida Attorney General’s Office by visiting or calling (866) 9NO-SCAM (966-7226).

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at [email protected]

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