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FairPort Accused of Faking Network Readiness Test

kdawson posted about 5 years ago | from the sufficiently-rigged-demo-is-indistinguishable-from-magic dept.

Communications 144

wytcld writes "When Verizon spun off its Northern New England lines to FairPoint, FairPoint leased Verizon's computer network to manage them. This was costly, so FairPoint readied its own network. To prove its own network was ready for the switchover a demonstration was prepared for an outside auditor, Liberty. Now a whistleblower claims: '...when Liberty was watching what they thought was "flow thru" within a system and from one system to another, they were really only seeing a small program that was created to assimilate what they wanted the systems to do. They were not actually in the systems at the time nor were they in the test systems. They were in a newly created small program that used screen shots from the real system to deceive the audience into believing that they were watching a real demonstration.' How easy is it to find auditors who can be fooled by such a simple trick? Whether or not the test was faked, the network has proved so unready that FairPoint is close to bankruptcy, and may have its licenses to operate revoked in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont."

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Help! (4, Interesting)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | about 5 years ago | (#29189383)

Help! New Hampshire Internet Refugee here -

The reports slamming Fairpoint have not been exaggerated, I work in the tech industry in NH, and I have seen countless problems with many of my clients who have fairpoint. I personally have had endless frustration-

A new 7.1 mbps service that took them 3 months and 1000 calls later to actually hook up! The techs there seem to have little idea of what's going on, and each promises a phone call back that never happens. They've mastered stalling techniques such as "Well I put it in the system, but we'll have to wait 24-72 hours for it to 'go through'"

"go through!?" Let me tell you guys something, this is the tech's way of not dealing with you. When my problem finally got fixed (I had finally gotten through to a top tier tech), he was on the phone with me and went, oh I see the problem, and it was fixed instantly. There is no magical factory of oompa loompas out back processing these cpu instructions- it's a fucking computer network run by .. computers.

Techs decide what they can and cannot do in order to get off the phone with you as soon as possible, conveinently never having access to that part of the system that can FIX anything.

There's nothing good going on behind the scenes at fairpoint, and their staff are a bunch of jokers. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get on the phone with their billing department and figure out why my auto-pay billing keeps billing but never charges the card! I've got over $300 in late fees.. and I don't know why!

Re:Help! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29189693)

"they were really only seeing a small program that was created to assimilate what they wanted the systems to do."

I think they meant "to SIMULATE what they wanted the systems to do"...

Isn't compulsory education wonderful?

Re:Help! (4, Funny)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 5 years ago | (#29189843)

No, he meant "assimilate". You see, by the end of the audit, the consultants had become part of the Collective, and were willing to sign whatever the Borg Queen told them to.

Re:Help! (1)

Caue (909322) | about 5 years ago | (#29190343)

I, for one, welcome our new auditors overlords.

Re:Help! (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 5 years ago | (#29190511)

I don't understand what this has to do with Melinda Gates.

Re:Help! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29190081)

Pick your poison.

A: They meant simulate, and /. has shitty editors.
B: They created a terrible new buzzword, "assimulate" (assume + simulate), and /. still has shitty editors who didn't catch the typo.

Re:Help! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29189767)

I had to drop Fairpoint, slowly my bandwidth shrunk and I started getting random drop outs in service. Two modems, swapped out a few routers and rewired the phone line proved it was in fact their service.

I'm lucky being where I live in Vermont, I had access to Comcast Cable, which isn't available to most of the state.. Not that I enjoyed switching over to the evil empire, it was better than nothing.

Re:Help! (5, Insightful)

BronsCon (927697) | about 5 years ago | (#29189921)

I'm lucky...Comcast Cable

Wow, FairPoint does suck.

I was thinking the same thing... (1)

MsGeek (162936) | about 5 years ago | (#29190219)

WORSE than VZ? Wow, that really MUST suck!

Re:Help! (1)

BronsCon (927697) | about 5 years ago | (#29191287)


I think I'll troll more.

Re:Help! || Sovernet (3, Informative)

n1ckml007 (683046) | about 5 years ago | (#29190463)

Did you look at Sovernet Communications? []

Re:Help! (1)

CDOS_CDOS run (669823) | about 5 years ago | (#29190563)

I hate Comcast with a passion and Verizon was horrible. I didn't think there could be anything worse, then Fairpoint came along and showed they were 100% less capable than Comcast or Verizon.

Re:Help! (1)

siloko (1133863) | about 5 years ago | (#29189803)

There's nothing good going on behind the scenes at fairpoint

Nothing good?? Obviously at least one of them has been reading Enders Game . . .

Re:Help! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29189829)

Whenever someone tells me I have to wait for things to go through, I ask to be transferred to the department of things going through. When the lie is discovered there and then, things change--"Oh, it's the XYZ department holding things up". Transfer me there. Eventually, you get somebody who can deal with the issue.

Re:Help! (2)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 5 years ago | (#29190001)

Let me tell you guys something, this is the tech's way of not dealing with you.

I take it that you've never done tech support. I have. Most of the time, the "phone firewall" doesn't have direct access to the files that need changing to clear up issues like yours. The most they can generally do is put in a request to have somebody in the NOC make the needed changes. Depending on how busy people are, how hard working they are and the phase of the moon, it can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few days for your request to rise to the top of the list and get dealt with.

Techs decide what they can and cannot do in order to get off the phone with you as soon as possible, conveinently never having access to that part of the system that can FIX anything.

That's right. Their performance is judged, mostly, on how many calls per day they handle and their average call-time because managers have to have some sort of metric, and that's about all they have to work with. Junior techs don't have direct access to the files and programs needed to fix things because they're not expected to have the experience or know-how to use them properly. (Would you want to give that type of power to some kid just out of high school, or working his way through college? If so, you're a much more trusting soul than I am!)

Re:Help! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29190667)

The most they can generally do is put in a request to have somebody in the NOC make the needed changes.

The most? I would expect that to be the bare minimum: file a ticket if the customer still has a problem, so the techs can investigate. And you could certainly give your smarter junior techs read-only access to diagnostics.

'Course, the people doing such bullshit grunt IT work are either students (who go away to better jobs in a couple years...fuck, I ditched my university helpdesk job in about six months and went on to greener programming pastures), or so clueless they can only follow a script. But the script should actually be able to deal with unusual problems.

Re:Help! (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 5 years ago | (#29191035)

And you could certainly give your smarter junior techs read-only access to diagnostics.

They often do, but so what? Assuming they know how to use them, all that does is tell them what's wrong, it doesn't give them any way to do something about it.

But the script should actually be able to deal with unusual problems.

Yes, that would be nice. Alas, the more unusual a problem is, the less likely that somebody will have written a script to deal with it. And, the junior techs will probably try the script they're most familiar with first, then give up. I remember, once, being the fifth tech a caller spoke to about a connectivity issue with Win 98. The first four techs had removed and replaced Dial-Up Networking over and over, even though it never did any good. (What I like to call The Bullwinkle Syndrome: "This time, for sure!") I took one look at what was going on and did what they should have done in the first place: I went through both Network Control Panel and their connection's Properties and put all the settings back where they should have been. (There was a walk through for that, but I guess it wasn't as "glamorous" as the other because junior techs tended not to use it, even though it worked at least 90% of the time.) When I was finished, the caller was back on line and surfing away. Of course, by that time I was a Very Senior Tech, and had learned how to think for myself and do proper troubleshooting.

Re:Help! (1)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | about 5 years ago | (#29191015)

I do tech support and I have access to the tools to fix most problems. In some cases though a caller is so rude and/or ignorant that you just have to give them the "phone firewall".

Re:Help! (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 5 years ago | (#29191283)

I do tech support and I have access to the tools to fix most problems.

Unless you work for a small company, you are either very lucky or very senior. When I started work doing support for a small ISP, techs got access to as many tools as they could handle. By the time I left, almost eight years ago, the company was much bigger, much more regimented and techs were given as few tools as possible. Mind you, this wasn't the result of the managers growing pointy hair; it was simply because we needed so many techs that most of them were just about able to help the average caller by reading scripts and calling for help if anything didn't go as expected.

Re:Help! (1)

AnEducatedNegro (1372687) | about 5 years ago | (#29190285)

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get on the phone with their billing department and figure out why my auto-pay billing keeps billing but never charges the card! I've got over $300 in late fees.. and I don't know why!

you're a fool to use your billers autopayment system. sure it's all great when you get charged the correct amount.. then there's that one random $100 mistake that gets charged to your account. don't worry though, they'll refund it after 30 days. albeit at a profit for them of at least PRIME%

you should always use your bank's billpay site where you can specify the amount. don't let their mistakes cost you money


Re:Help! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29190549)

As a Maine resident, I hear about Fairpoint quite a bit. Never in a good light.

To put it in perspective, Fairpoint brings us such blunders as 911 outages [] and Horrible Customer Service [] which has prompted Investigations [] by local governments.

In short Fairpoint is horrendous!

Re:Help! (1)

Reece400 (584378) | about 5 years ago | (#29190625)

That sounds exactly like Bell Canada, except that they seems to make loads of money doing it! They routinely promise to call me back and never do (they've never once called me back). Even when they say they've made changes they often haven't and even when they have they're often horribly wrong. Want a supervisor? They'll transfer you to a supervisor of a complety different department!

Re:Help! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29191189)

From NH as well, myself and most of my Tech friends have taken to calling them FailPoint, it really is the point at which telecommunications in Northern New England fails. The other part that amuses me is that when My mother-in-law called to get quotes on internet service (against my recommendation) they told her they only offered 768kbps DSL, and that the price was the same as the Local Cable company's 1.5mbps service.

The Move to FailPoint from Verizon has in effect given the Cable companies (Comcast and Metrocast in the cities around me) a monopoly on high speed broadband internet connections, and Telephone service. It scares me to think that my only "real" choice for High speed is Comcast where I currently live especially if they actually make head way in their suit against the FCC.

Re:Help! (1)

LatencyKills (1213908) | about 5 years ago | (#29191619)

As another NH resident I've watch with a sick sort of fascination the train wreck that is Fairpoint. I recall when Verizon held those lines, and though their service was on the whole satisfactory I knew that advanced services (most notably Fios to compete with the local cable monopoly) was never going to arrive. Then came Fairpoint, and I read the writing on that wall from a mile away. Why would Verizon sell a profitable service region to Fairpoint? The answer is that they wouldn't, and whatever phone service we had from Verizon was about to get a whole lot worse. I fled for AT&T immediately afterwards (and none to happy about that), but I'd like to thank the PUC for selling us out by allowing the sale to go through via whatever collection of bribes and general incompetence made it happen. Repeatedly the PUC claimed that Fairpoint would meet certain performance milestones or by god their would be hell to pay. And here we are, and the ones paying the hell are the present Fairpoint customers, and Fairpoint itself will almost certainly go into bankruptcy (which is more than likely where they were headed before the sale happened in the first place).

Very Easy (4, Informative)

Bob9113 (14996) | about 5 years ago | (#29189459)

How easy is it to find auditors who can be fooled by such a simple trick?

Very easy. While auditors tend to do a good job of detecting whether a report is realistic, their main objective is to get you to sign off saying, "This is what we do." Then, if you do not do that, you are personally liable.

They aren't detectives (though they often do some of that as well), they are guarantors of accountability. Your-ass-uncoverers for the CYA generation, if you will.

Re:Very Easy (2, Interesting)

Tim4444 (1122173) | about 5 years ago | (#29189581)

Normally getting an auditor is a good CYA technique. However, deliberately misleading the auditor is essentially fraudulent misrepresentation. Even so, the auditor should actually perform an audit - not just sit back and sign off on a prepared demo. That's like a CPA just checking your totals without actually looking at your books.

Re:Very Easy (4, Insightful)

Stenchwarrior (1335051) | about 5 years ago | (#29189955)

I work for an accounting firm that has a team of IT auditors who, between all of them, can barely spell "TCP/IP", let alone implement a proper network security test. They run various programs and review various policies and at the end of their testing the client is given a piece of paper, by people these with pieces of paper, given to them by other people with pieces of paper, that say they are secure and can go about their business so they can say their asses are covered for one more year.

I shudder to think how it will affect my company, and ultimately me and my family, when one of these companies gets hacked and loses thousands of patients' information and financial records because they thought they were secure, based on what some company that they paid thousands of dollars to, told them.

Re:Very Easy (1)

Trails (629752) | about 5 years ago | (#29190597)

Didn't an equivalent thing happen in the financial auditors world when it turned out WorldCom and a bunch of others were houses of cards? I'm pretty sure a bunch of "reputable" auditors basically ended up dead in the water.

Re:Very Easy (2, Interesting)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | about 5 years ago | (#29190795)

Your obviously not an IT Auditor...

I am.. unfortunately.. but hey, it pays the bills.. Well, I am an auditor when I am not doing security pen testing and network defense.. but thats besides the point.

Audits are generally point in time, you certify (I would not call the people who audited fairpoint auditors, more like observers) that the system (the one you actually put your hands on, and validated the configurations and controls.. yes I know FISMA is a joke...) is in compliance with whatever criteria was used during that audit, at that time. It is not going to be compliant a week later after 50 patches were released and the client did not test and install, or mitigate.

The point being, not all auditors are idiots.. many are, but not all.

Re:Very Easy (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | about 5 years ago | (#29190339)

Normally getting an auditor is a good CYA technique. However, deliberately misleading the auditor is essentially fraudulent misrepresentation. Even so, the auditor should actually perform an audit - not just sit back and sign off on a prepared demo. That's like a CPA just checking your totals without actually looking at your books.

I agree in principle, but there's truth in the saying that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.

In this case, if they created a clone piece of software that was identical but fraudulent, I wonder what they could have inspected to ensure it was fake? Sort of like supplying your CPA with cooked books in your example - a good CPA could sniff out a bad fake, but probably not a good fake.

Re:Very Easy (1)

squallbsr (826163) | about 5 years ago | (#29190761)

They should have noticed that everything was going too smoothly, no problems on a telecommunications network during a "test switchover" should have been a major red flag in-and-of-itself.

Re:Very Easy (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29190029)

Auditors are fine as long as you do what they expect. Any deviation from what they know causes them great pain. For example, I work with credit cards so I have to live with PCI auditors. You tell them that you are encrypting credit cards with AES-512. They read somewhere that AES-256 is recommended. They tell you so. But you tell them that AES-512 is 256 better. They tell you it isn't AES-256. And then they blink. They stare. They blink again. After I switched to AES-256 they were happy. Then next year when you get a new auditor whose never seen AES-256 used, you have to explain why you're not using TripleDES for encryption. And then they blink. They stare. They blink again. After I switched to TripleDES they were happy.

Then the next year yet another auditor wonders why you aren't using both thinking that it's extra secure to use both.

Oh well, it keeps my company in the black.

Re:Very Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29190167)

Sounds like you need to find a better auditing firm; one that actually hires CISSP certified auditors (or similar security certification).

Re:Very Easy (1)

PitaBred (632671) | about 5 years ago | (#29191501)

Sounds more like I need to find a job as an auditor...

Re:Very Easy (2, Funny)

Shakrai (717556) | about 5 years ago | (#29190323)

What are you going to do when you get an auditor that asks you why you aren't using the Ovaltine decoder ring because that's what they read was recommended?

Re:Very Easy (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 5 years ago | (#29190375)

You use the Ovaltine decoder ring. If you're lucky, you can persuade management to use another auditor next year.

Re:Very Easy (1)

Caue (909322) | about 5 years ago | (#29190299)

mod parent + please. Someone knows that auditing is not investigating or trying to find flaws in one's accountability.

So what does this mean for end users? (1, Troll)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | about 5 years ago | (#29189463)

First, if you don't know what a word means, please don't use it. Even if you think you know, it's most likely that you will use it wrongly.

Second, so what does this mean for users?

Re:So what does this mean for end users? (4, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 years ago | (#29189625)

It means there isn't the data throughput for the system you might expect. So over selling becomes a bigger issue, as does reliability

It could be even worse, depending on why the faked the audit.

I mean, i supposed they could have faked the audit becasue they are so awesome that they wanted to keep it a secret...but that's not a likely scenario.

Re:So what does this mean for end users? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29189731)

First, if you don't know what a word means, please don't use it. Even if you think you know, it's most likely that you will use it wrongly.

But that's the penultimate use for the word "assimilate" that I've ever heard!

Re:So what does this mean for end users? (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about 5 years ago | (#29190493)

I'll use assimilate for the last time. And now NOBODY can use it any more.

Re:So what does this mean for end users? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29189849)

First, if you don't know what a word means, please don't use it. Even if you think you know, it's most likely that you will use it wrongly.

Now, now ... there's no need to publicly assimilate the person who wrote that.

Re:So what does this mean for end users? (1)

Oak1 (1234494) | about 5 years ago | (#29191917)

Mighty cromulent of you.

Re:So what does this mean for end users? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29190347)

Verizon's IT systems were so old that FairPoint chose to not buy them along with the network. FairPoint hired a French consulting firm to write new systems (Java-based) that would run on HP Unix servers using HP (Hitachi) SAN-based storage systems. They bought Verizon's old data center in Manchester, NH and for a time, the two companies were co-located in the same building.

This lead to a certain amount of tension between Verizon employees who weren't part of the move to FairPoint and still worked in the building (a number of whom were to ultimately get laid-off by Verizion. I have no knowledge if that was the outcome), between former Verzion employees now working for FairPoint, and new FairPoint employees who didn't have an emotional stake in the transition. There were also a number of consultants brought in for various work, such as the initial database installation (Oracle) and configuration. FairPoint was racing to finish the code for the systems, which included customer billing and order processing, to be done prior to April of 2008, which is when the sale was to be final and FairPoint would start owning the lines and running the show. Apparently, they didn't make it.

Part of what was driving the race was the need to convert existing customer data from Verizon's old system to FairPoint's new one. I'm curious as to which part of the system was supposedly audited, and allegedly faked: the data conversion, the on-going operational functions, or both.

Darwin? (1)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | about 5 years ago | (#29189467)

Ever heard about Darwin? Sad for the company though...

Re:Darwin? (1)

megamerican (1073936) | about 5 years ago | (#29189577)

No, you're looking for Adam Smith.

The religious 2-minute hate is down the hall.

"assimilate" or "simulate"? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29189475)

"they were really only seeing a small program that was created to assimilate what they wanted the systems to do"

that statement makes little sense to me as it stands and i'm wondering if the person misspoke and meant to say "simulate". or am i missing something (perhaps someone would care to explain)?

Re:"assimilate" or "simulate"? (5, Informative)

1u3hr (530656) | about 5 years ago | (#29190131)

Useful definitions:

assimilate: To consume and incorporate (nutrients) into the body after digestion.

simulate: ... 2. To make a pretense of; feign: simulate interest.

kdawson: illiterate who pretends to be an editor.

Re:"assimilate" or "simulate"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29190477)

* Main Entry: 1asÂsimÂiÂlate
        * Pronunciation: \É(TM)-Ësi-mÉ(TM)-ËOElÄt\
        * Function: verb
        * Inflected Form(s): asÂsimÂiÂlatÂed; asÂsimÂiÂlatÂing
        * Etymology: Middle English, from Medieval Latin assimilatus, past participle of assimilare, from Latin assimulare to make similar, from ad- + simulare to make similar, simulate
        * Date: 15th century

transitive verb
1 a : to take in and utilize as nourishment : absorb into the system b : to take into the mind and thoroughly comprehend
2 a : to make similar b : to alter by assimilation c : to absorb into the culture or mores of a population or group
3 : compare, liken intransitive verb

Re:"assimilate" or "simulate"? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29190821)

to be fair it was a direct quote. there are plenty of things to complain about on slashdot, this is not one of them.

Re:"assimilate" or "simulate"? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29190195)

Actually, assimilate may also be used in the sense of "to make similar" or "to cause to resemble"

Nothing too sea hear. Move along.

What you're observing here... (0, Troll)

Nick Driver (238034) | about 5 years ago | (#29190227) another shining example of the quality work produced by the American education system.

Obligatory (1, Offtopic)

rehtonAesoohC (954490) | about 5 years ago | (#29189529)

Moar liek FailPort amirite?!?!

Misread the title (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29189551)

I read that company name as "FailPort". Makes more sense actually.

Flown on an airline lately? (4, Interesting)

Spiked_Three (626260) | about 5 years ago | (#29189569)

sigh, embarrassed to admit, but was forced by employer to do the same thing at the FAA once. Talk about a scary thought.

Re:Flown on an airline lately? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29190291)

the "Post Anonymously" check box might have been a good idea there considering you just confessed to a felony...

Re:Flown on an airline lately? (1)

Joe Jay Bee (1151309) | about 5 years ago | (#29191759)

Dude, if you're going to blow the whistle, then for fuck's sake BLOW THE WHISTLE IN A WAY THAT WILL MEANINGFULLY HELP THE SITUATION.

If this is at all true, go to the media. Now.

Re:Flown on an airline lately? (1)

starfliz (922954) | about 5 years ago | (#29192217)

"forced"? there was a person threatening your life to be unethical and perhaps immoral?

It (almost) worked for Enron (4, Insightful)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | about 5 years ago | (#29189611)

For several years, Enron fooled investors, market watchers, government, and even its employees, with shady accounting practices that were "audited." As it turned out, the auditing firm, Arthur Anderson, was part of the fraud.

It wouldn't surprise me that the same thing happens in IT auditing.

Re:It (almost) worked for Enron (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29189825)

It would surprise me. IT auditing is less likely to be fraudulent, and more likely to be plain stupid.

Re:It (almost) worked for Enron (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29190805)

Many AA auditors were fresh out of college, a.k.a. stupid.

Re:It (almost) worked for Enron (1)

jschen (1249578) | about 5 years ago | (#29190055)

For what it's worth, Arthur Andersen's conviction was overturned by a unanimous decision of the Supreme Court. Practially, it probably won't matter for Andersen since the company's reputation likely is irreparable. But it has gone out of its way to clear its name.

Re:It (almost) worked for Enron (1)

Caue (909322) | about 5 years ago | (#29190281)

systems auditing is VERY different from accountability auditing. An auditor is not, and I repeat: NOT, a detective. It's not their job to find out what you are doing wrong. Auditing is more about hearing you and then communicating to the parties interested. You can't invite all your investors to look upon every single aspect of your company, that's why there is an auditor. from the latin : TO HEAR. wheter is shady accounting or not, it's up to the AV officers to determine, through inspection of the books and reports.

FairPort or FairPoint? (3, Informative)

ranson (824789) | about 5 years ago | (#29189667)

Check the article title.

Re:FairPort or FairPoint? (1)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | about 5 years ago | (#29189769)

I believe it's Fainport, no wait.. FarPoint, no.. FairPair.. FrapPants?

I giveup

Bankruptcy? Not here... (3, Funny)

A. B3ttik (1344591) | about 5 years ago | (#29189757)

Next week we'll learn that Fairpoint is being approved for a government bailout Stimulus Package.

Re:Bankruptcy? Not here... (1)

jpyeck (1368075) | about 5 years ago | (#29190615)

Wouldn't that be the "Assimilus" Package in this case?

Re:Bankruptcy? Not here... (1)

p1esk (1622615) | about 5 years ago | (#29191755)

That's the plan. It's called Broadband Stimulus Package, and Fairpoint has (or at least had) very good chances of getting a piece of it.

Proving once again... (5, Funny)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 5 years ago | (#29189775)

...that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo."

Re:Proving once again... (4, Funny)

arthurpaliden (939626) | about 5 years ago | (#29190457)

True Story:
Canadian governent contractor was demoing the system. Part of the system to be used once the data was entered into the system was the report generation. This was demoed with some sample data The customer signed off and the contractor was payed.
Then about 6 months later they were trying to get the reports to be printed out but not matter what they did the reports all came out the same the dates were 6 months off. Thats right all the reports were hard coded and did not even touch the database.

FailPoint is Fail (4, Interesting)

Publikwerks (885730) | about 5 years ago | (#29189867)

I used to have to work with both FairPoint and Verizon with my IT duties( I had to manage mutiple t-1). It was very nice working with Verizon. I would connect to the Verizon PCC in Boston, and they didn't mess around. Even when I would call at 3 am, they had people on it. Usually tookem them less than an hour to fix ANYTHING. FailPoint, I would leave a message with FairPoint's voicemail. They usually would get someone on it withion 24 hours. Usually.

Another unhappy FP customer... (5, Interesting)

nate_in_ME (1281156) | about 5 years ago | (#29189959)

I got burned bad by this myself. In the interest of not having to retype a LOT, here's the complaint I sent to Maine's PUC, which got forwarded to someone high up at Fairpoint:

We initially contacted Fairpoint to establish DSL service near the end of January, 2009. We were informed that because of the computer system changeover, that someone would be contacting me in early February to complete our order and give us our install date, which was predicted to be roughly mid-February. After not hearing from a Fairpoint representative by mid-February, I called to follow up, and after several phone calls where I was basically told "we're still transitioning, and can't get to your order," our original order was found, and we were given an install date of March 3. On March 2, having not yet received the equipment for our DSL service, I called again, and after being on hold for roughly 5-10 min while the customer service rep was "checking on our order," I was told that we were still scheduled to have service turned on for March 3, and our equipment would most likely be recieved that same day.

After not receiving anything on March 3, I called Fairpoint again that afternoon. At that point, I was told that the computer was showing that the order was never completed because it was showing that service was not available. At this point, the rep offered to have a technician come out and check our area to see if this was actually the case. I was told that we would be called with the results of this check, and to expect a 7-10 day wait before hearing back. We were never called back with the results of this check.
In mid-March, I called to follow up on the supposed check that was done. They were not able to find our previous order anywhere in the computer system. After repeatedly being put on hold so they could try and find the previous order, eventually a new order was placed. At this point, we decided to sign up for both telephone and DSL service, as we were offered a bundle package at that time. This order was given the order number mentioned above, with the phone service date of April 2, and DSL service as of April 6.

As we had to go and purchase a phone, we were not able to test the telephone service until April 3. When the service was tested, it was not yet working. I placed another call to Fairpoint, where I was told that there was still an account from a previous tenant at our address in the system when our order was placed, and this placed a hold on our order. Note that we had lived at the service address since late January of '09, and in none of my previous calls had I been told about any existing account at this address. This hold was supposedly cleared, and they said that the phone should be working within a few days, and the DSL a few days after that.

A week later, we still had no service of any sort. I placed yet another call to Fairpoint, and was told this time that there were multiple orders in our name for our address, including one for another telephone number, but all of our information. I was also told that there was showing a problem with the third-party verification that Fairpoint uses, and this is now why our order was on hold. This issue was supposedly cleared, and again I was told to give the phone a few days, and to watch for the DSL equipment to arrive.

On April 17, we still had no service. I called Fairpoint yet again, and was again told that the previous account that was at our address was the source of the problem. After being put on hold for at least 10 minutes while the rep called to another department to try and get things worked out, I was told that everything was taken care of, and I should have a working phone by Monday or Tuesday of this week, and the DSL service would take a few days longer.

As of today, the "Tuesday of Next week" mentioned above, we still have no service. Multiple calls to the "Installation Service" telephone number since 8am today of 866-980-0642 that the last Fairpoint rep I spoke to provided me with only get me a recording saying they are not open, and to try back later, but it does not provide you with the hours that they are open. Checking their web site under the "Contact Us" section does not list the number I was provided with anywhere, and the only listed hours say that they open at 8am. After writing this, I intend to attempt to call the installation phone number one more time, then will be calling the main contact number if my issue is not resolved.
Since I posted this complaint, I have wasted roughly 2 hours worth of minutes on my cell phone trying to reach a live person at the 866-980-0642 number. Finally, I called Friday morning to the primary customer service number and asked to speak to a supervisor. My name and number was taken down and I was told that someone would call me back. About 5:30pm, my call was returned, however, I did not make it to my cell phone in time, and a message was left by a ----, who said that the third-party verification had not gone through, and I would need to call back to perform the verification. As mentioned above, I had been told two weeks previously that the issue with the third party verification had already been found and resolved. When I called back, the first representative I spoke with transferred me to Financial Services instead of the verification line, and I had to hang up and call back. I informed the representative that I spoke with when I called back that I wanted to speak to ----, and was informed that due to how close it was to closing time for the day, that it would be unlikely that she could be reached. When attempting to explain why I wanted to speak with ----, the representative simply repeated what she had previously said, and basically refused to even try and reach ---- for me. I was successfully transferred to the verification line on the second call, and completed that process again.

Even after all that, I did not actually get working service until May 7.

Re:Another unhappy FP customer... (1)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | about 5 years ago | (#29190277)

That sounds like the average experience with fairpoint. nobody has ever had a good deal with them.

Re:Another unhappy FP customer... (1)

nate_in_ME (1281156) | about 5 years ago | (#29190529)

Unfortunately, I didn't have much of a choice at the time, as I needed internet and couldn't get Time Warner to come in because I had to catch up an old bill with them first. However, I should finally be able to pay off TW in the next few weeks, and will be looking to switch at that point. It will be the lesser of two evils I think...

Re:Another unhappy FP customer... (1)

omi5cron (1455851) | about 5 years ago | (#29192215)

how about they are based in maine and offer internet(DSL) and phone.i have them for internet and never a problem. however, since i am over the border in new hampshire, i can't get their phone service. so i am stuck with fairpoint. wish i could get for phone,,,sigh!!

Re:Another unhappy FP customer... (1)

ultraexactzz (546422) | about 5 years ago | (#29191589)

I'm impressed with your patience and fortitude; Personally, if any other option existed, I would have told them to go to hell when they never called me back in early february. Even if their network was smoke and mirrors, I'm amazed that people actually gave them money.

Re:Another unhappy FP customer... (1) (245670) | about 5 years ago | (#29191819)

Hell, dude, I probably would have walked away after the first estimate of over two weeks just to get a callback and start the process. And I definitely would have moved on after they missed that first date. You were ordering DSL service, not some high-end business product that's going to require digging trenches to lay new cable. That's crazy.

Everybody around here hates fairpoint. (3, Interesting)

woodchip (611770) | about 5 years ago | (#29189967)

Everybody around here hates Fair Point. Thank God for reliable, fast, and consistent Comcast. Sadly, I don't think I am being sarcastic.

Re:Everybody around here hates fairpoint. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29190175)

Yes. When I lived in Ellensburg, Failpoint was advertising 1.5mb DSL as their fastest available speed. It was available at $40.00/month if you also bundled your home phone service with them. Charter advertised 5mb cable for around $60/mo., or you could just bundle that with digital cable for the same price.

That's not competition. That's not even remotely competition.

Re:Everybody around here hates fairpoint. (1)

kaszeta (322161) | about 5 years ago | (#29190559)

That's been my experience as well. Fairpoint has, sadly, shown me how good Comcast is.

My latest FP problem? My service goes out completely every time it rains. They insist it must be my internal wiring, even if I'm hooking up directly to the NID, so the problem is on their side of the demarc. But since my NID is inside, I have to agree to pay $65 for them to come out, and then if and when they come out, if it's not raining, there's no problem, and they refuse to troubleshoot.

Add to that the bizarre billing problems, and I'm thinking Vonage.

Re:Everybody around here hates fairpoint. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29190943)

If you're not being sarcastic, that in and of itself is a frightening commentary on just how bad Fairpoint must be.

All they did (1)

C_Kode (102755) | about 5 years ago | (#29189991)

All they did was trick themselves into consumer hate and bankruptcy.

Dolts die and FairPort is a dolt.

Share your fake demos here (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29190005)

My favorite was the time we had a VP coming from HQ to see what he was spending all this money on - a very early voice over IP softphone system for call centers.

We absolutely had nothing at that point except for design documentation (very much a 'waterfall' process type company.)

So the guys walks in, and we point him to two workstations, one manned by a team member, and both with headsets already layed out. He walks over to the workstation, puts on the headset, and starts talking to our guy.

"The voice quality is absolutely amazing! Tremendous! It's better than my landline at home!"

After that, we took him out for beers, and drove him to the airport next morning. Everything cool as can be.

Of course, both headsets were just plugged into POTS lines. We'd dialed over to the other workstation before he got there.

We didn't feel so bad in the end. We got that project done in time, and since the target network was way over-engineered and partitioned for just this purpose, we were able to actually use a codec that's better quality than POTS.

Re:Share your fake demos here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29190221)

You are an asshat. Thanks for the story though.

Ooops. (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about 5 years ago | (#29190053)

I read that as "Failpoint accused of faking..." Though, given the details, I guess that would have been a pretty accurate headline too.

Fairport Deception (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29190105)

Could be the bad tribute band for the only Fairport that is worth mentioning, Fairport Convention.

Speaking of Deception, look into my crystal balls-

For several years, the Obama Admin fooled the populace, market watchers, government watchdogs, and even its hardcore marxist socialist devotees, with shady accounting and policy practices that were "audited". As it turned out, the auditing firms, both US Houses and major US Media, was part of the fraud.

It does not surprise me that the same thing happens in IT auditing.

Re:Fairport Deception (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29190439)


Re:Fairport Deception (1)

rickb928 (945187) | about 5 years ago | (#29190723)

"For several years, the Obama Admin fooled the populace...."

Um, while, I'm no fan of the Obama Administration, they haven't been in office for 'years'.

They may well be fudging the books, but we'll have to wait for just a little while.

Of course, the dot-com bubble was fueled in part by the Big Eight firms handling auditing, IPOs, and investment banking for many of those dot-coms that went public, scooped huge barrels full of money, and then burned it all with nothing but technology others bought for pennies on the dollar and went on to make actual money. Obvious conflict of interest that lead to many of the Big Eight dying off.

Enron being just the most obvious example.

Give the Obama team a chance. They can do better...;)

FairPoint Business Plan Revealed (1)

kaizendojo (956951) | about 5 years ago | (#29190137)

1. Fake Auditing Tests 2. Assimilate 3. ???? 4. Profit

Re:FairPoint Business Plan Revealed (1)

natehoy (1608657) | about 5 years ago | (#29191757)

3 = Get selves into serious trouble for Gubbmint Bailout.

FairPoint wasn't ready. This was painfully obvious to everyone outside government circles. However, telephony is a vital infrastructure, especially in rural areas where cell just doesn't work, and FairPoint knows it. Verizon knew it, too, but they had other profitable divisions that prevented them from simply shutting down New England and cutting their losses.

New England is too rural for the landlines to be truly profitable at anything resembling a reasonable price, and in Maine the taxes/fees/surcharges added to a landline can easily add up to $10 a month. Last time I looked, I think a basic no-long-distance metered line was about $30 a month. Real service with some long distance included can run in the $50s. So cell phones start looking reasonable for a lot of customers, and of course the VERY inexpensive Vonage and other VoIP services instantly became the favored service for anyone in an urban enough area to have broadband Internet. Which drove the price-per-customer UP, since many who had a choice were already in urban areas where there's a lot less wire to be maintained. The rural folk at the end of their long fiber-and-copper lines had to stay with Verizon, they had no choice since cell service is pretty much nonexistent for a lot of them, and broadband? Verizon actually laughed at my mother when she asked when DSL might be available. (hint: her dial-up capability was Verizon-limited to 14.4K because Verizon didn't have enough available switching capability to support a full voice line for every customer).

FairPoint is a relatively smaller company, and it's possible that a behind-the-scenes deal between the muckity-mucks at FairPoint and Verizon and our esteemed legislators assured that the landlines were transferred out of Verizon so they could shed the unprofitable division. Without a larger company to fund New England, the new company would have a valid reason to cry poverty and stick their hand out, or threaten to go bankrupt. Verizon doesn't have that luxury - they make too much profit elsewhere to claim poverty.

So FairPoint comes in, makes some token improvements in coverage (offering DSL in rural areas, which pleased my mother no end!) with much fanfare and pomp and circumstance so the consumers who still care are happy with their government's decision. Not to mention they could spend their way through their cash quickly since they knew they'd run out soon enough anyway, so might as well do some bread and circuses on the spiral.

Now, phase 2 kicks in. Tax dollars will be requested very soon to keep FairPoint operational, otherwise a LOT of rural and poor people will lose access to "911", not to mention normal phone service and their dialup Internet (which is all they have in a lot of areas). A "think of the pauper children" bill will come on the legislative floors of all three states soon. And it'll have to pass, because telephone is second maybe only to electricity in terms of a "must have" infrastructure.

The only question is what they are going to tax, err, "surcharge" to pay for it.

So the whistleblower is Borg? (2, Interesting)

PingXao (153057) | about 5 years ago | (#29190181)

Here's what it says,

they were really only seeing a small program that was created to assimilate what they wanted the systems to do.

So it seems that the whistleblower is Borg. The only thing missing is the part about resistance being futile. Which it seems to be when you're dealing with Verizon, so maybe that part's implied.

Notice... (1)

PostPhil (739179) | about 5 years ago | (#29190311)

1. According to the whistleblower article, the last names of the president and CEO of FairPoint is "Nixon" and "Johnson", where Nixon is the president of the company. Johnson was CEO before Hauser took over in June. Well there's your problem, the company's run by President Nixon!

2. The new CEO, Hauser responded concerning the fraud allegations, "We take these allegations seriously and will do a thorough investigation". To paraphrase: "We know we're busted, and we intend to do a very thorough cover-up considering billions of dollars are on the line."

Auditors have no clue (1)

Sprouticus (1503545) | about 5 years ago | (#29190361)

It would be unbelieveably easy to fool an auditor in out S-Ox Audits. Heck, we could fool anyone brought in to audit the auditors if we liked. They dont have the time or technicalknowledge to understand the systems they are auditing. They ask for information which is pointless and easily faked ('can we have a screen shot of you AD domain security policies') and frankly they just dont care. These guys make the TSa look like experts. This is my primary issue with S-Ox as a regulation. It doesnt work. Its security theatre at its best(worst). so even though my boss/company follows the rules, we could easily not do so and still have our CEO/CFO sign off with noone the wiser.

Amazing!!! (1)

CDOS_CDOS run (669823) | about 5 years ago | (#29190513)

This is the first time Fairpoint has shown any competence in anything since they took over!!!!!!

Re:Amazing!!! (1)

natehoy (1608657) | about 5 years ago | (#29191125)

They showed an incredible amount of competence in pulling the wool over the collective eyes in Augusta, Concord, and Montpelier.

The Sad Reality (1)

CDOS_CDOS run (669823) | about 5 years ago | (#29190731)

In this region Fairpoint is often the only choice for highspeed internet. If there is another option, it's Comcast who was forging rst packets, and blocking connections willy nilly. I was unable to use a VPN to my office, because Comcast deemed it bad traffic. Beyond that, if you try to use your 800 Billion free hours of AOL or other dialup, often times the phone lines are original copper from the early 1900s and won't even support 56k dialup.

Kill the Auditor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29190799)

If you pay good money for an audit and the auditor collects that fee but hasn't the foggiest idea what is going on - then he's at fault and he should lose his license! What the hell is wrong with everyone? The auditor attests to the truth of a report. This auditor wouldn't have known the truth if he was sitting in it.

Surprise? (2, Interesting)

natehoy (1608657) | about 5 years ago | (#29191077)

I remember when FairPoint was trying to take over, the local NPR station in Maine was coming out with an almost-daily feature on specific points of the FairPoint readiness plan. Some of them would have gotten me caught under the new Maine distracted driving law because they were so ridiculous I (as a non-FairPoint customer) was laughing so hard I almost drove off the interstate.

My favorite was the costs assumption. FairPoint, in their infinite wisdumb, decided that the cost of gasoline would remain fixed at $2 or less for a period of no less than seven years. Gas was about $2 at the time the report was written and was documented as such, and $3 when the report was evaluated by the various state legislatures. A few legislators even mentioned that point specifically after the NPR story on it broke. Then, suddenly, it was a non-issue even though the report never changed.

But there were LOTS of things like this. Assumptions that labor costs wouldn't change, assumptions that their customer base would increase by some incredible percentage while support costs would remain fixed or drop, assumptions on the cost of running new cable and upgrading Internet infrastructure that were apparently based on most of the work being done by elves while the workers slept and service being provided by the magical Internet Faeries instead of actual bandwidth from Level3.

FairPoint made up numbers for the auditors, that much is true. But most of their fabrications were obvious enough to be on the daily news. Obviously, the legislatures of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont don't listen to NPR. Or FairPoint and Verizon executives could afford enough bribe money or had the incriminating photos. You choose.

We got what we (or FairPoint) paid for.

STILL glad I'm a Vonage customer.

What if their license is actually pulled? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29191947)

So, what happens if VT, NH, and/or ME decide to revoke Fairpoint's license to operate? Before you threaten someone, think through the consequences. Verizon won't buy it back, they're busy building out high-speed service in urban areas, and they don't want to deal with someplace as rural as Northern New England. Who steps in? Maybe Burlington Telecom (the local cable service in Burlington, VT). Seriously, is there an actual alternative to "making this work?"

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