Valor Telecom draws fire from new customers

Wednesday, August 9th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

An Oklahoma telephone company is drawing fire from several new customers over what they call a “lack of service.”

Valor Telecom serves more than 80,000 customers in the state, including Fay Inman. The Wagoner County woman recently moved to a temporary home and says it took the company more than five weeks to provide her phone service. She could have moved up the companies waiting list, she says, if she provided the company a doctors note that she was diabetic. "I thought that's ridiculous,” said Inman. “To get a phone you have to have a doctor's prescription. That's not right."

Hector Castillo is another Valor customer. He says ran into his own frustrations when he moved in to his new apartment the end of July. "I'm a single parent,” said Castillo. “I have a son with me that's 14. I wanted him to have a phone there in case of an emergency."

He says Valor told him he'd have to wait for phone service because he didn't call in time. He claims he did call in time, but they repeatedly put him on hold. Castillo says he was even put on hold for an hour-and-a-half on one occasion.

At least two other Valor customers repeat similar stories. "You just cannot talk to anyone,” said Verna Johnson. “You stay on the phone for 30-40 minutes at a time."

"They put you on hold and keep holding you there for 2 hours,” claimed Valor customer Leonard Goins.

Johnson says she took matters to her Congressman. "Finally on the tenth day I called Don Nickles office in Washington D.C.,” said Johnson. “They said they would call and about 3 hours later I had local service, but it's been almost 2 weeks and I still don't have long distance."

Some customers of the company say it’s not service delays that have them upset. Jeff Glanz has service but is upset about his bill. "I got my first bill,” said Glanz. “That was probably for June, I guess, and my bill was probably as much as eight dolars more than what it was before - just from the basic charges."

Like the other complainants, Glanz couldn't get through to Valor. "This might be a new company that is trying to break into the business here, but they may have bitten off more than they can chew," said Glanz.

Broken Arrow was the first city Valor provided service to, and the company it was not intended to be a test site. "It certainly wasn't our intention to make Broken Arrow the guinea pig," said Valor vice president Coleen Hazlewood.

Valor Telecom took over GTE's Oklahoma service on July 1st, and the company admits it's been a rough start. "Of course, Valor's very concerned about these delays and we're very aware that they're occurring," said Hazlewood.
She blames the problems on a backlog of 2100 service calls that they inherited from GTE, coupled with staffing problems at their own calling center in Texas. "Initially we did not have enough customer reps in our calling centers,” said Hazlewood. “They were inexperienced. They were brand new employees. We have since added customer service reps and we've noticed a big difference in that and an improvement in the delay time."

Hazlewood did contest Inman’s assertion that she was required to have a doctor’s note to get quick service. She says the company will rush orders for customers with medical hardships, and blames the mix-up on an inexperienced service rep.

The company says it plans to insert a copy of its new policies in this month’s bill to customers.

Valor customers who have persistent problems can call the Corporation Commission at 1-800-522-8154.