MN Dep of Commerce and Attorney General’s Office call out CenturyLink for landline customer service

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports…

CenturyLink has asked Minnesota regulators to eliminate or modify what it calls archaic telephone rules — at the same time two state agencies say the company is violating those regulations and several others.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce and the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office have blasted CenturyLink for its landline customer service, claiming long delays for repairs and slow response times to customer calls.

“Customer complaints reveal an alarming pattern of regular and extended landline telephone service outages,” the Attorney General’s Office said in a filing last week with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC). “Given CenturyLink’s seeming lack of attention and indifference to landline customer inquiries, requests and complaints, it is no surprise that customer wait times are an issue.”

The Commerce Department, meanwhile, concluded that the company “may need to be subject to penalties for violations [of PUC rules] to provide the economic incentive for CenturyLink to update its network and employ adequate staffing.”

CenturyLink (Lumen) responded to filings…

“Over the past several years, we have made significant investments to modernize our network to enable the deployment of more broadband and increased speeds for consumers throughout Minnesota,” the statement said.

CenturyLink, Minnesota’s largest landline phone service provider, said in a PUC filing last month that its landline service quality “remains strong.”

The company said further in its Wednesday statement: “We constantly conduct maintenance and repair on our networks, and there is always work to do…. As can be expected, at any given time some facilities require repairs due to vandalism, snowplows, automobiles, animals and age.”

Last month, CenturyLink asked the PUC to relax landline repair rules because they saw landlines as obsolete. They also want the answering time relaxed…

The company also wants the PUC to rescind or change its “answering time” rule, which says landline providers need to answer 90% of their customer service phone calls within 20 seconds.

It is not necessary anymore, CenturyLink said in the filing, as the “penalty for failing to resolve customer concerns or inquiries quickly … is imposed by the competitive marketplace.” Customers will drop the landline service.

Their requests are not going well…

The Commerce Department and the Attorney General’s Office have both recommended that the PUC deny CenturyLink’s request to rescind or alter phone service rules. …

The two agencies concluded that CenturyLink isn’t answering 90% of calls within 20 seconds as required. In its PUC filing, the Commerce Department listed examples where customers were left on hold by CenturyLink for as long as three hours.

Nor has Century Link restored 95 % of service troubles within 24 hours, the agencies say. “Not only does CenturyLink not meet the goal using its own metrics, but the [Commerce] Department believes the troubles are underreported due to the inabilities of customers to reach customer service.”

In a survey of 180 CenturyLink customers, the Commerce Department found that only 5% of respondents reported quick restoration of service after an outage; 18% reported long waits, including from three days to several weeks.

The Attorney General’s Office’s claims that due to sustained outages, CenturyLink’s landline customers often lack 911 service for more than 24 hours.

“Many of these outages involve landline-only customers and/or customers that rely on landline service for emergency and medical purposes,” the office said in a PUC filing.

The comments, as is often the case, are as interesting as the article.

 

This entry was posted in MN, Policy, Vendors by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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