While Frontier’s bungled Texas, California, and Florida acquisitions are getting lots of press, the company continues to face a lawsuit from West Virginia customers (also acquired from Verizon) who say the company consistently fails to deliver advertised speeds. Despite Frontier’s best attempt to force angry customers into binding arbitration, last December a Judge let the class action lawsuit proceed, saying Frontier’s arbitration language showed up in customer contracts long after they’d signed up for service and had begun experiencing service problems.
Frontier has since appealed to the West Virginia Supreme Court, claiming the arbitration language was “friendly” and that the Judge showed hostility toward the proceedings. Arbitration tends to end up in the company’s favor more often than not.
But the Charleston Gazette Mail notes that annoyed Frontier customers are petitioning the Supreme Court to side with angry users, who originally filed suit over Frontier’s under-performing network back in 2014.
We hope the Supreme Court will finally grant us our day in court, so we can get finally get West Virginia out of the digital dark ages, said one plaintiff to the paper.
Said customers also tell the paper they don’t believe Frontier’s attempt to outlaw class actions via fine print is fair, despite the fact that the practice became legally acceptable after AT&T won a case before the Supreme Court back in 2011, opening the door to this being standard practice across multiple industries. Thanks in part to AT&T, you’d be hard-pressed to find a major company that doesn’t include forced binding arbitration restrictions into its terms of service.
“Frontier s position is that consumers are obliged to be on alert at all times diligently reviewing the fine print on each and every page of promotional material received for the possibility that they may be waiving their rights by doing nothing at all, Frontier s customers said in the legal brief.
West Virginia has been a poster child for US broadband dysfunction for a decade or more. Frontier has been under fire since it convinced the state to buy ridiculously overpriced, overpowered and unused routers, and hire several ridiculously overpaid consultants who haven’t actually accomplished anything. Frontier’s also been accused of over-inflating deployment costs to nab additional subsidies, the lion’s share of which were never used to actually help residential subscribers. When inquiries began, the state tried to bury studies disclosing Frontier’s grotesque influence on state politics.
As such, customers expecting a fair shake from the state — or Frontier — may not want to hold their breath.