CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Four representatives of Suddenlink were on hand Tuesday at the state Public Service Commission and listened closely as one customer after another regaled commissioners with a variety of horror stories regarding poor service, sub-par response, unhelpful technical support, and complicated and exorbitant billing.
One by one, residents from across the Suddenlink’s service territory in the Mountain State shared personal stories of frustration and difficulty with their cable, internet, and telephone provider.
“During a three-week period, I lost track of the number of calls I made to your call centers. I lost track of the number of minutes I spent calling and I lost track of the number of minutes I was on hold,” said Maria Fore.
“I have called numerous times and while the representatives have been nice, they do not understand me. They just tell me they don’t know and the don’t know what to do,” shared Dorothy Hatfield of Mingo County.
Hatfield owns a rental apartment building and a rental mobile home in Delbarton. She said a Suddenlink line is sagging from a pole and almost touching the roof her mobile home, but calls to see if it can be fixed have been ignored since she’s not the “customer of record.”
Fred Mixer was furious after learning when he adjusted his services, instead of going down, his bill shot way up.
“Sudden-stink’ as my neighbors and I call them are nothing more than pirates. Legislative investigation of Suddenlink’s billing practices would be recommended as would a call center in West Virginia with associates who speak clear and understandable English,” Mixer said.
David Bailey was another who experienced difficulty.
“At one time they told me my wait time from this point was going to be 6 days, 7 hours, and 15 minutes and if you want, punch a number and we’ll call you back. I discovered that was just a ploy to make you hang up. And it works,” he explained.
More than one customer complained of a lack of competition for the company’s services in their neighborhood. Suddenlink provides cable, internet and phone service in West Virginia. The PSC announced an investigation in July after receiving hundreds of complaints about the company’s service.
There were four company officials from Suddenlink on hand to hear the testimony. They offered no response as the customers and in some cases members of the legislature addressed them directly from the witness stand.
Tuesday morning’s hearing was the second of four scheduled by the PSC. Commissioners are taking all of the testimony into account and have ordered Suddenlink to produce a plan by the end of August which outlines how they plan to improve service and make repairs which have long been left in limbo.
The PSC may not be the last word as five members of the legislature spoke during the proceeding and promised they would be holding the company accountable.
“Folks this is unacceptable. We are not going to put up with this level of service. Our people deserve better and we in the Legislature, and I think I speak for all of my colleagues, intend to hold you to account,” Del. Daniel Linville, R-Cabell said.
A second hearing the PSC office is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and a fourth public hearing will be held Sept. 14 at 5 p.m. at the Princeton Parks and Recreation Meeting Room. The first hearing took place Monday evening in Beckley.
The evidentiary hearing in the case is now set for Oct. 6 in Charleston.
PSC Chairman Charlotte Lane previous told MetroNews the hearings could be eye-opening for Suddenlink.
“Nothing gets their attention like a lot of customers demanding attention and demanding service,” Lane said.
Suddenlink did give MetroNews a statement before the hearings began.
“We understand that some of our customers may have experienced some frustration particularly during the pandemic as the company adapted operations to ensure the safety of customers and employees,” the company said. “We continue to make major investments in our network, products and services, including the recent launch of our Smart WiFi 6 product and the roll out of our advanced Altice One entertainment platform.”