First, keep phone customers satisfied
Hawaiian TelCom, still struggling with billing errors and customer complaints, is seeking approval to offer Internet television service.
HAWAIIAN TelCom says it has its eye on the future in seeking to provide television service via the Internet
, but it first has to take care of its present business and keep its telephone customers satisfied.
Unhappy consumers won't likely sign up for another product offered by a business that frustrated and confused them previously and Hawaiian TelCom has many of them right now. Since April, when the company took over operations from Verizon Communications, customers have had to tolerate problems with billing.
Those who pay by mail got statements late, then were double billed in the subsequent month even though they made their payments. Others whose phone charges are automatically withdrawn from bank accounts discovered that withdrawals were made late in one month and early in the next, throwing off their account balances. Still others were tagged for unwarranted charges that boosted their bills to more than $100, due to a software error.
Customers were further irritated when they called the phone company to ask questions and could not get through. Placed on endless "holds," many gave up. Some asked for a call back, but waited days for help.
The company has asked for patience as it completes its takeover of Verizon, which was bought by Hawaiian TelCom's parent, the Carlyle Group. Customers understand glitches will occur in the transition, but their endurance is reaching a tipping point.
Hawaiian TelCom has already seen its land-line accounts dwindling as customers migrate to wireless or Internet phone services. The company's business plan is to expand beyond the traditional to provide television, Internet as well as telephone.
The state is considering its initial foray, television, which would give consumers an option to Oceanic Time Warner Cable. The competition would be welcome, but Hawaiian TelCom needs to untangle its current lines before customers hang up for good.
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