Lie about the internet speeds that you provide customers, and you will suffer the consequences. That was the message the FTC and two California agencies sent today regarding Frontier broadband speed claims.
A proposed FTC order prohibits Frontier from “tricking consumers about its slow internet service” and requires the company to support its speed claims. The carrier will also be required to give current customers free and easy cancellations when failing to provide the promised speeds.
The FTC alleges that Frontier failed to provide many consumers with the maximum speeds they were promised and the speeds that customers actually received often fell far short of what was touted in the plans they purchased. Some customers complained that it was difficult to engage in typical online activities that should have been possible under the plan they purchased.
Last year, the FTC and agencies from six states sued Frontier, charging that the internet service provider charged customers for more expensive and higher-speed service than what was actually provided.
Under the proposed order announced today, Frontier:
- Must substantiate its internet speed claims at a customer-by-customer level for new and complaining customers and notify customers when it is unable to do so;
- Needs to ensure it can provide the internet service speeds it advertises before signing up, upgrading or billing new customers; and
- Is prohibited from signing up new customers for its DSL internet service in areas where the high number of users sharing the same networking equipment causes congestion resulting in slower internet service.
Frontier also will be required to pay $8.5 million in civil penalties and costs to the Los Angeles County and Riverside County District Attorneys’ offices and $250,000 to Frontier’s California customers “harmed by the company’s practices,” according to a press release about the FTC Frontier broadband speed claims action. The company must discount the bills of certain California customers.
“Frontier lied about its speeds and ripped off customers by charging high-speed prices for slow service,” said Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a prepared statement about the FTC “Today’s proposed order requires Frontier to back up its high-speed claims. It also arms customers lured in by Frontier’s lies with free, easy options for dropping their slow service.”