Verizon floods PSC with data on phone service

The Baltimore Sun

Verizon Maryland Inc. submitted to the Public Service Commission yesterday 18 boxes containing 72,000 pages of additional documents on its phone service.

Officials at the PSC yesterday confirmed that they received additional material from Verizon. PSC Chairman Steven B. Larsen said regulators would begin studying the documents next week.

"We're going to try do it as quickly as we can given the complaints we've received," he said. "We want to do it thoroughly and carefully."

The telephone company previously had filed thousands of pages of data with the PSC, which is investigating customer complaints about Verizon's service.

But commissioners had deemed those filings incomplete and last week gave Verizon until yesterday to supplement its earlier information, or face thousands of dollars in fines.

Hundreds of consumer complaints "chronicle serious and frustrating difficulties in scheduling repair appointments and describe failures on the part of Verizon (or perhaps its contractors) to appear as promised," according to the original PSC order asking for data.

"We certainly have acted in good faith and provided everything we believe the commission has asked for," Verizon spokeswoman Sandra Arnette said in an e-mail yesterday.

Just before 3 p.m. yesterday, Verizon submitted 20 boxes containing 10 sets of documents, each set consisting of about 8,000 pages of reports and analyses, Arnette said. They included spreadsheets, Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, PDF files and printouts, she said.

Two boxes were given to the Maryland Office of the People's Counsel, which represents the state's residential utility consumers and is a party in the case.

Yesterday's volume of documents was the most the company has provided so far. After receiving an extension to provide more documents last month, the company handed in four standard gray envelopes with information on Aug. 22. Executives said they also provided more than 4,000 pages Aug. 29, as well as additional information on two other dates, Arnette said.

The PSC held a hearing last month asking Verizon to account for a sharp increase in customer complaints in the first half of the year.

More than 300 objections were lodged against the company by late July, a 50 percent increase from the comparable period last year. The PSC said it has received another 150 complaints about Maryland's largest telephone provider since the hearing.

In response, Verizon outlined a series of improvements, including putting more technicians on the job, increasing worker overtime and retraining call-center employees to help customers who lose service and have medical conditions.

"We recognize the need and are taking steps to communicate better with our customers whose voice service is affected," Arnette said.

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