Capgemini takes heat for FairPoint's failure

At Friday's Public Utilities Commission (PUC) hearing in Concord, NH, politicians were looking for someone to blame for FairPoint's poor customer service since cutting over to its new information systems in January -- and they found one.

FairPoint purchased Verizon's dwindling and neglected landline telephone business one year ago. It converted customers over to its own systems in January.

The cutover project is a major black eye for Capgemini, the consulting firm hired to build and test the new system, as well as for Liberty, the consulting firm hired by the PUC to determine whether or not FairPoint's systems were ready.

In testimony during the hearing, Commissioner Graham Morrison called Capgemini on the carpet.

What you've done is negligent. ... You have placed the economic health of a large corporation and three states in jeopardy. ... You have tarnished the image of these three states. Your company is responsible for that.

For its part, FairPoint stated that the situtation with customer service has improved a bit in the last few days. However, billing issues, which account for more than half of complaints, are continuing, judging by this post on FairPoint's home page this morning.

FairPoint billing issue notice

FairPoint is not out of the woods by a longshot. And it will take more than improvements in IT systems and hiring a few more customer service representatives to put FairPoint back on track.

It's not enough to simply go back to the status quo when it comes to customer service. The status quo wasn't competitive.

FairPoint's customer service, billing and sales are open only from 8 am to 6 pm EDT. By the time most people get home from work and finish dinner, FairPoint is closed for the day. Not so its competitors. Time Warner is open and making offers to FairPoint customers until 9 pm every night of the week while Comcast is available 24 x 7.

To survive, FairPoint needs to match that -- and provide price competitive offerings and bundles if it expects to stop the migration of land line customers to wireless and cable providers.

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