Fairpoint Communications / Overbilling and lost order...
My name is Pat Alaggio and I am the owner of Interactive On-Hold Services, which is located in Readsboro, Vermont at 6982 Main Street. We are getting ready to celebrate our 10-year anniversary this summer and now may be put out of business by the suspicious billing practices of Fair Point Communications who purchased our account from Verizon Communications early last year. My telephone bill for two business lines has been around $142 per month for the past year or so but has suddenly escalated to over $500 per month for the last two bills (dated February 28th and March 30th), which were sent late and only received (SIMULTANEOUSLY) this past Saturday, April 4th. My calling patterns DID NOT CHANGE AT ALL and we received no warning of this massive rate increase that, if allowed to stand, would put me out of business and do further harm to my credit. Note: January's bill was also sent late for some unknown reason.
Here is a brief summary of how this debacle unfolded:
January 20th, 2009: I called the Fair Point business office and spoke with Gilda to place an order for a high-speed internet connection. She told me that this service would allow me to download data at up to 3 MBs per second and upload at speeds approaching 768 KB per second, which would be a vast improvement over my present "dial-up" service with Sovernet Communications. I gave her a password that was to be used with this installation and was given an install date of approximately February 17th. Gilda advised that I would receive my equipment in the mail just prior to the install date but not to try and install the service until I received a call from a Fair Point rep telling me that they were ready.
February 27th. 2009: I received my equipment around a week before this date but never got a call from Fair Point so I called them to see what the delay was. I was told that there was no order in the system for me and that they didn't know what had happened to it. I was upset of course but not overly so since I had waited this long to bring a high-speed internet connection to my home business. I spoke with a supervisor in their Portland, Maine office by the name of Susan. Ultimately, a new order was placed without any reason given for why or how the other order could have been lost.
March 3rd, 2009: I reviewed my January 30th bill, which had arrived very late and noticed that my monthly charge had escalated to $200 for no reason! I had paid the previous balance in full and was surprised to see a $60 increase in my billing so I (once again) called the business office. This time I spoke with Barbara and as we looked over the bill together I felt that I had found the reason for the discrepancy. Under the service arrangement I had contracted for with Verizon they had capped the message unit charges for my second line since they could not offer a flat rate business service. This meant that I could use my second line to stay connected to the internet with my dial-up service without incurring any unreasonable charges. (All of my previous VERIZON and FairPoint bills showed this cap as limited to $20.36. i.e. And each of those bills read: "Local Usage Charge (NOT TO EXCEED $20.36)" It looked to me as if this cap had somehow been removed and I was now being billed for time on my constant connection to the ISP. Barbara said she would refer this to her billing department who would investigate this claims and I requested a call-back so we could get the problem corrected as soon as possible.
March 30th, 2009: I sent a payment of $136.59 in to Fair Point Communications, which reflected the amount that I felt was legitimate on my (then) current bill.
April 4th, 2009: While at the Post Office I picked up my mail, which contained two statements from Fair Point. I presumed one might be a billing adjustment and the other was probably a new bill. I had taken Saturday off so I did not open that mail until the end of the following day.
April 5th, 2009: (Evening) I opened the two statements from Fair Point to discover that not only had they not addressed the billing issue that I had called about a month earlier but that it had actually escalated to a point of being absurd. Instead of my monthly $142 in charges I was being billed $554.68 and $570.42 respectively for February and March. These two bills represents an overbilling of approximately $841, not including the $60 I had already reported to Barbara on March 3rd (for the January bill) and, since these bills have been going out late and haphazardly I can expect the same to be true of my current bill when it arrives
PLEASE NOTE THAT I HAVE NEVER GOTTEN A CALL BACK FROM FAIR POINT COMMUNICATIONS ON EITHER THE 1ST OR 2ND HIGH-SPEED INTERNET ORDER OR THE OVERBILLING CHARGE THAT I HAD IDENTIFIED WITH BARBARA ON MARCH 3RD AND THAT IS WHY I AM WRITING THIS LETTER SO I MAY ESCALATE THIS MATTER WITH ANY AND ALL AGENCIES NEEDED TO RESOLVE THIS MATTER PRIOR TO BEING PUT OUT OF BUSINESS!
1. That a full credit be given for these over billings and that my credit not be harmed by the apparent failure to pay these exorbitant bills.
2. That my high-speed internet be installed ASAP without further delay.
3. It is my sincere hope that Fair Point Communications, who picked up billing (from Verizon) on my business with their March 31st, 2008 bill cycle, will act in a forthright manner in correcting this frustrating debacle as soon as possible and issue an apology for the poor service they have provided.
I may be reached either at [protected] or by responding to this e-mail. Thank you for your time and assistance.
PS: It might be interesting for some to note that I had nearly 15 years of outstanding service in both New Jersey Bell Telephone and AT&T and understand these matters better than most. I served both companies with the highest level of service and integrity and EXPECT better from Fair Point Communications moving forward.
PPS: Research found http://www.seacoastonline.com/articles/20090404-NEWS-90404004 .
I.O.S. "Making every minute count."
[protected] (North America)
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