FRONTIER FEISTY AFTER LAWSUIT OVER "HIGH SPEED" INTERNET - "They Got What They Paid For"

(02/13/2015)

West Virginia has among the poorest broadband speeds in the USA, and last week Calhoun County was among a half-dozen WV counties with the worst broadband speeds in WV, according to the FCC.

Some Calhoun residents have signed onto a civil suit against Frontier because of poor service, the subject of this article.

Many Calhoun and regional "high-speed" customers have asked and received a base rate of $20 for the Frontier Internet service, a cost that the company has been offering to new customers.

Frontier asks judge to dismiss class-action suit By Eric Eyre, Staff Writer for the Charleston Gazette

Frontier Communications says its customers have no right to file a class-action lawsuit that alleges the company failed to provide the high-speed Internet services it advertised.

Frontier has asked Lincoln County Circuit Judge Jay Hoke to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that Internet customers agreed to "terms and conditions" that require the two sides to settle disputes through arbitration—not in court.

In a recent filing, Frontier said it repeatedly informed customers about the contract terms on monthly bills and the company's website. Frontier said customers suing the company had the opportunity to cancel their Internet service, but never did.

"By continuing to use and pay for Frontier's service after signing up for service after plain and repeated notice of the terms and conditions, the [customers] accepted those terms," said Frontier lawyer Thomas R. Goodwin in the company's response to the class-action suit.

In October, Frontier customers sued the company, alleging Frontier improperly "throttles" back it Internet service and provides speeds slower than advertised. Frontier didn't notify its customers about the practice, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit also alleges that Frontier's Internet service frequently doesn't work, and customers must repeatedly turn their modems off and on to restore service.

Frontier's "false advertising" violates the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act, according to the lawsuit.

Frontier has responded that the handful of customers suing the company got the Internet service they paid for.

In its filing, Frontier noted it offers "cost-free" arbitration for claims on damages up to $10,000. Also, if Frontier offers a settlement award, and an arbitrator later offers a higher amount, the company promises double the award - as long as it doesn't exceed $5,000.

The contract terms also allow customers to settle disputes in small claims court - but not through class-action lawsuits or jury trials.

Customers have complained that Frontier gets people to agree to its terms without securing "informed written consent."

The Hurricane law firm of Klein, Sheridan & Glazer is representing Frontier's disgruntled customers.

Benjamin Sheridan, the lawyer handling the case was unavailable for comment Monday.

In response to questions, Frontier issued a statement, saying its court filing explains why customers must take disputes to arbitration. Frontier also said it expanded or improved Internet service to 54,700 households last year.

Frontier asks judge to dismiss class-action suit By Eric Eyre, Staff Writer for the Charleston Gazette


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