Fairpoint's disappointing performance

I am huddled in the Keene Public Library at a table with a few other Fairpoint refugees. We've come here because we have no DSL at the moment - and other areas of New Hampshire may not either, judging by the vaguely worded recording at Fairpoint's call center. As of 2:40 p.m. I can find no information about the outage on the company's Web site.

I did as much work as I could at home, then hit the streets looking for Wi-Fi. At my first stop, Panera Bread, the Wi-Fi access point has simply disappeared. Were they on DSL? The staff hadn't a clue. I should have checked before buying that tea. Now I'm at the library which, thankfully, doesn't use Fairpoint services.

I first noticed that my service was out mid morning. But a man sitting one table away tells me that his service has been out for three days. He lives on the west side of town.

This is just the latest problem for Fairpoint. Its acquisition of Verizon's landline business in New England has been a mess. Most recently its customers had trouble accessing their e-mail accounts during the cutover from Verizon's systems.

It's difficult to reach anyone at Fairpoint. Incoming callers are warned of "heavy call volumes" before the line eventually goes totally silent - and you wait, not sure if you've been disconnected or not. I got lucky. Today I waited only about 15 minutes on hold before speaking with a representatitve.

A few weeks ago Fairpoint's Web site included no pricing for any of its services, a surprising fact when you consider that it consummated the acquisition one year ago. It has since posted some pricing online but the information is confusing and inaccurate. For example, the basic charge for local service is listed at about $10 more than I'm paying. (The phone rep said that the tariffed rate had gone down since the pricing had been posted and that it was out of date. That's interesting in light of the fact that I've paid that rate for more than a year.)

Fairpoint's bundled price for phone service and Direct TV costs more than going with Direct TV and Fairpoint phone service a la carte, judging by information provided by Direct TV and Fairpoint's price list. The Fairpoint rep I spoke with today said those prices might be deceptive - that's why I needed to talk to a Fairpoint sales person. It appeared lost on him that he was the sales person and had no answers.

Meanwhile, Comcast and Time Warner are cherry picking away Fairpoint's landline customers in metro areas of New Hampshire with their "triple play" services. And today, as I left my house in search of Wi-Fi, I picked up my Fairpoint bill from the box. The pricing for Fairpoint's DSL service appears to have increased.

I'm no fan of the cable companies. But so far, Fairpoint is not shaping up to be a viable alternative.

Note: After posting this blog I did a review of my billing history to see if my DSL had, in fact, increased. A Fairpoint representative told me today that the monthly price I was paying for DSL was $33.99. My statement shows the price of Fairpoint's DSL service as $35.99. However, this month's total bill is consistent with that of previous months.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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