Wednesday, April 4th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
Imagine waiting 6 weeks to get local phone service. That's what one local couple says happened to them after they relocated from Colorado to Broken Arrow. KOTV's Consumer Six helped them find a solution to their frustrating problem.
KOTV's Diane White says it's been about 9 months since Valor Telecom took over for GTE. It's been a rocky start for the new company. It's still fielding complaints about service and billing, but Valor Telecom says it has improved and is continuing to do so. Making a call is simple, but getting a phone was no easy task for Curtis Regnier and family. Before moving to Broken Arrow at the end of December, they called Valor Telecom to set up phone service. Becky Regnier, "We moved in a couple of days later, made the deposit and they told me at that time we wouldn't get our service until the first of February." So, a whole month later, what did you think when you heard that? Curtis Regnier, "Shocked, to be honest." And concerned about leaving his family at home without a telephone, so they bought a cell phone. Becky Regnier adds, "I called on February 1st to find out when they were going to come, how that was going to work because I had some things I needed to do and they told me I wasn't scheduled for the first, you're scheduled for the 19th."
They called several times to complain. On February 5th, Valor turned on their phone. Then they discovered another problem; the upstairs jacks didn't work. The Valor rep told them it would cost $85 an hour to fix them, and they already had a $98 cell phone bill. Frustrated, they called Consumer Six. KOTV connected them with the Corporation Commission, which regulates telephone companies and reviews complaints. Valor Telecom began its business July 1st. Corporation Commissioner Denise Bode: "We had almost a 2 to 3 month period where it was almost a crisis situation and we were working with them on a daily basis to try and get the problems addressed for Oklahoma consumers." Bode adds, "This company sure could have done a lot more preparation to get ready and to provide service on an ongoing basis."
Vice President of Valor Telecom Coleen Hazelwood says, "We have made significant progress in a lot of areas but we still have processes that need to be improved. We know that and we are constantly working on improving those processes." She says they have added more employees to improve their networks and customer service, for their 140,000 customers. "Our areas are these that are almost white and have alittle bit of yellow in them." The complaints have shifted from service problems to billing problems, so they have changed the format of the bill and sent a detailed explanation of each charge. The Corporation Commission says the complaints about Valor have dropped. But the Regniers say calling the Corporation Commission was the boost they needed. "A few days later Becky gets a phone call from Valor saying hey we got this complaint against the company from you, what do you need from us or what can we do to resolve this?"
What Valor did is give them a $98 credit to cover their cell phone bill and fixed the jacks for free. The company acknowledges that there are still some kinks in the system. If you have a problem with Valor Telecom, the first step is to call the customer service center, then if necessary, you can call the corporation commission. But the Vice President of Valor is offering another, unusual option.
Hazelwood says, "I would encourage customers who are not able to resolve their issues through the customer contact center to call me." If you want to call Coleen Hazelwood, the number in Broken Arrow is 451-3500.