Matt Murray grew up in Weston. He’s been a Westporter for 34 years.
But now he’s cut the cord. Well, the telephone card, anyway. He writes:
For the first time in my life I do not have a landline.
My family started with CA 7-6278 (Capitol 7-6278).
I’ve had a Westport landline since moving here in 1988. It was installed by the late, great SNET (Southern New England Telephone, for newcomers).
SNET and its employees were good. Through various mergers and purchases (AT&T, SBC), the service declined as rates went up (no surprise). But we hung on to the landline (known as POTS = Plain Old Telephone Service). We liked the reliability (more on that). For a time, a fax connection was nice to have.
As the years went on we did not need a fax. But we kept the landline. It was useful when the power went out, during or after bad weather.
Recently, when friends, family and neighbors tried Frontier after getting an incentive or “deal” to switch, they went back to their prior carrier within 30 to 60 days. They said Frontier was so bad: technical, customer service, etc..
We retained the landline for “local” calling and friends far away. Loyalty was expensive, but the landline was reliable.
Up until last week.
As I headed to bed Tuesday night I saw a flashing light on our various phones. I picked one up. There was no dial tone.
I checked the other phones: same thing. I did some troubleshooting, but could tell I would not resolve it at that point.
The next day, I went online and tried more troubleshooting actions. I even went out to the NID (Network Interface Device) on the side of the house to review connections.
A chat with tech support confirmed there was an outage in our area. It was frustrating, but it prompted me to look at my bill.
My service was a “Digital Premium Plan.“ There is nothing “digital” about my landline service. I found this a bit misleading. It added to my annoyance with Frontier. The service rep said they had no estimate of when the outage would be repaired or resolved.
Reliability of a landline no longer existed. I kept getting texts saying the outage had not been fixed, and they still had no idea when it would be.
All this was the final straw. On Friday I called to cancel the service (an action that cannot be performed online).
The person attempted to appease me with a free month. After a decade of paying too much for the landline — um, no.
She offered to “hold the number” so it could be used elsewhere (“you’ve had that number since 1982.” No, it was 1988.).
She offered to have it forward to my mobile. Again, no thank you.
I realized I would no longer receive spam calls, or political robo calls. I started to like that concept a lot.
No, a Cablevision/Altice phone is no better than Frontier or my mobile.
And no, I will not be a happy camper when we lose power. I hope I can text Eversource or the Westport PD when something happens.
But that’s not all the Frontier news today.
Longtime resident Bob Weingarten is the house historian and plaque coordinator for the Westport Museum for History & Culture. He is also very interested in, and has written dozens of articles and stories about, the environment, recycling, solar energy and social issues.
Additionally, he’s a frustrated Frontier customer. Bob writes:
In 2020 “06880” posted a story about “Dangerous Cables” of phone and video companies in Westport. But it did not mention any service issues.
I’ve had a phone problem with Frontier, For over 5 years, whenever there’s a severe rainstorm our service in Greens Farms has failed. A repair lineman always comes within a few days. We’ve been told the issue is that circuits from the pole to the house are wet and limited, so switching to an available one was not possible. Frontier had to place new cables to the service pole nearest our house.
This occurred again February 8. The line went dead. I called Frontier. They scheduled repairs for the next day, and asked me to be home.
No one showed up or called. Instead I got this message on my cell:
We are aware of the outage affecting your service. We’re working quickly to repair the outage and we’ll let you know when it’s resolved. To check the status of your network, download the myFrontier Mobile app.
I called, but Frontier would not commit to a new appointment. I received the same message from Frontier for days. I kept calling, but nothing happened.
I missed landline calls from doctors, family members and friends etc. They emailed and called my cell, wondering what was happening.
Daily messages from Frontier kept coming. I kept calling. On February 15 I insisted on speaking to a supervisor. I waited more than an hour on the phone. Finally a supervisor was “available.”
I told him there was no other outage in my area, and I hadn’t seen any Frontier personnel trying to fix a problem. I also asked for a local repair number. He said none was available. He put me on hold, then repeated the same status.
Within an hour, my phone service was fixed. Perhaps talking to the supervisor worked!
PS: Around the block, I saw an open phone circuit box, It may not have had anything to do with my repair, but it should not be exposed.
California relatives report the same shitty service from Fontier and the same problems…Optimum is a far better carrier, though no where near as good as was SNET or, going further back, the AT&T monopoly.
I cannot count on my two hands the ever dissatisfied Frontier customers ! Switch to Optimum !
I also have kept my land line, but is on copper cable, so it’s not a digital “land line”. It has always worked for me even when there were power (and cable) outages. I think that the words land line now may not necessarily mean the old-fashioned copper wire sort, but a digital one. Fortunately, I’ve actually had a good experience with Frontier.
It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me to switch from the ILEC to cable phone service, except that a copper landline is slightly more resilient than cable because it is separately powered. It will make sense to switch from Optimum’s HFC to Frontier fiber.
The better alternative is to switch to an internet phone service like Google Voice, including, if you wish, retaining your existing number. It is a little technical, but once done its free except for $15/year for e911 service if you want it.
Most will agree that Frontier is a terrible company, but many do not realize it’s state-regulated one. CT’s utility regulators have done little to enforce the service level promises Frontier made when they took over SNET. Being a CT public utilities commissioner is essentially a retirement job for ex-corporate lobbyists — a $150,000 a year sinecure. Take a look at their bios here: https://portal.ct.gov/PURA/About/Commissioners/PURA-Biographies#MarissaGillett
Frontier Communications has been a source of trouble and frustration here in Minnesota for years. Outages, poor service, bankruptcy. I feel for anyone still relying on them for anything.
Businesses such as Frontier should not be allowed to exist. The lack of decent customer service, honesty and respect for customers is growing throughout this country . Five years ago the lack of service which is prevalent among many businesses in this country today would have been unthinkable. The frustration customers experience is unacceptable.
When I moved from Westport SNET then AT&T to Southport (Fairfield) I couldn’t keep my 222 phone numbers. My business and family and friends knew that number. I got a Vonage box which gets you a Google number which you then tell Vonage to recognize it as the 222 number. Problem solved
Lots of concerns, with Frontier, for most, being a problem. I do note in the comments that there seems to be an acknowledgement that old fashioned land line service, not digital, usually works when other power is out. This fact is important to all those who support the proposed Cell Tower at 92 Greens Farms Rd. due to a concern with the absence of cell service when power does go out.
I retired from SNET in 1995. SNET was the first telephone company having started in New Haven in 1878. We were associated with AT&T but not owned by AT&T. Our motto was “the best possible service at the lowest possible cost”. It was a great company!