A cable and internet provider will be providing close to a million dollars in refunds to consumers to settle claims that it violated Washington’s Consumer Protection Act.
State Attorney General Bob Ferguson says Frontier Communications pushed deceptive fees and misled customers about internet speeds in its advertising.
“Deceptive – use any word you like, Jesse – deceptive would be mild. They know they are not delivering those speeds. They also know they’re going to tack on four bucks a month on your bills, and they are not telling you – that’s the very definition of deceptive,” says Ferguson.
The issue with the advertising is that the prices do not reflect an additional internet surcharge.
“They gave you a monthly cost, the small font at the bottom: ‘other fees may apply.’ Guess what, Jesse, you get the bill in the mail, suddenly there’s a four dollar internet surcharge fee that they tacked on. It adds up to about 50 bucks a year they have to disclose that up front – not after you get the bill,” says Ferguson.
Court documents also say Frontier must now disclose that its advertised internet speeds may not be available in a customer’s area.
“They advertised ‘blazing internet speeds,’ that was a word they used. To put it mildly, what they delivered was nowhere close to that,” says Ferguson.
Ferguson says his office started their investigation two years ago. Upwards of 600 complaints have been filed against the Frontier, which will pay $900,000 dollars to the state in this agreement. Frontier did not admit fault in the settlement.
Ferguson says the lion's share of that money will go to the public. So, if you had an internet surcharge on your Frontier bill, send it to the attorney general's office right away. You can do that here. It's the best way for them to know where to find you so you can get paid.
A spokesperson at Frontier Communications declined to comment, saying they recently sold their northwest operations to Kirkland-based Ziply Fiber.
We reached out to Ziply, and they sent this statement on behalf of CEO Harold Zeitz:
“We are aware of the settlement between Frontier Communications and the Washington State Office of the Attorney General. Having just purchased the Northwest operations of Frontier on May 1, Ziply Fiber is a new, locally-based, Northwest company that prides itself on doing business honestly, responsibly and transparently. We are committed to clearly communicating all charges and disclosures to our customers, and our new residential service plans have no contracts and no hidden fees because we believe everyone deserves access to fast, reliable, hassle-free internet.