Verizon Fios has become Frontier Communication, and it’s causing consumers a lot of headaches.
For years, Verizon Fios was a service that Floridians relied on every day for their internet, television, and telephone. Recently, a new company purchased this service – Frontier – and took over providing service and billing. Frontier’s billing practices have been the subject of many articles showing what issues they have caused. As a consumer protection attorney in Florida, I have been asked if there are grounds for a lawsuit, and have been researching possibilities. If you have been affected by a Frontier Communication billing issue, we are available for a consultation.
Can Floridians Sue Frontier or other new service providers?
It depends. There may be a way that Frontier Communications, or a similarly situated company, is arguably liable to consumers. Under the Florida Consumer Collections Practices Act, it is a violation for a person to “[c]laim, attempt, or threaten to enforce a debt when such person knows that the debt is not legitimate, or assert the existence of some other legal right when such person knows that the right does not exist.” Fla. Stat. 559.72(9). Many people find that this is vague and hard to understand. Basically, in attempting to collect a consumer debt – a personal, family, or household debt – there has to be a legal right to the money. Companies that have taken over consumer accounts arguably run into some issues when it comes to their billing practices.
A resident of Florida that was only paying for internet with Verizon may be the easiest example. That person is only using one of multiple different services that Verizon may have offered. Now, generally there is a contract to that service. After the account is transferred to the new provider, the contract should have transferred with the same details that Verizon had. In some instances, this contract was not properly transferred over and the consumer may be charged for more services than they had agreed to pay for (e.g., internet and cable).
More issues may arise if the billing changed after an account was already late or delinquent and may open up more possibilities of suit. The state version of this statute allows for actual damages (if you paid the wrong bill), statutory damages (up to $1,000), and attorney’s fees and costs.
What about a Frontier Class Action?
Honestly, there may be some pending at this time given the scrutiny that has come their way from the State of Florida. In an effort to help Florida Consumers, my firm is speaking to those affected to try to determine the best options for them, some of which may be litigation.