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FiberNet files injunction over customer losses to Suddenlink

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 7:40am
Mike Robuck

FiberNet has filed for an injunction in a West Virginia court against Suddenlink Communications that alleged Suddenlink wrongfully signed up some of its customers through three former FiberNet sales employees that now work for Suddenlink.

According to The Charleston Gazette in West Virginia, the former FiberNet sales employees used confidential information to entice some of FiberNet's business customers to transfer their accounts to Suddenlink.

The 29-page complaint, which was filed in Kanawha Circuit Court yesterday, said that FiberNet expected to lose more than $1 million in customer accounts due to Suddenlink's illegal recruitment of its customers.

The complaint also alleged that the former employees contacted FiberNet customers and misrepresented a state Public Service Commission ruling that required FiberNet to waive early termination fees for subscribers with bundled packages, according to The Charleston Gazette. That ruling was instrumental in Waynesboro, Va.-based nTelos' purchase of FiberNet for $169 million in December.

The complaint said that the former employees either took or memorized customer information when they went to work for Suddenlink in April in violation of employee confidentiality and non-solicitation agreements that they had signed. FiberNet said by signing the documents, the former employees agreed not to solicit FiberNet customers for a competitor for 12 months after leaving the company.

"While nTelos does not comment about pending legal action, we believe the injunction filed on Tuesday is warranted and necessary to protect the integrity of nTelos," wrote FiberNet/nTelos manager of sales and marketing Kevin Jennings in an e-mail to CED this morning. " NTelos operates under similar practices of other telcos. Non-compete agreements are virtually industry-standard.

"NTelos competitors have provided erroneous information to legacy FiberNet customers. The dissemination of erroneous information and 'coaching' of customers has not only resulted in a great deal of confusion, but has also harmed FiberNet's relationships with its customers. We have placed the case in the hands of the legal system for further action."

FiberNet also alleged that the former employees, who worked for the company for three years, convinced other employees to leave the company to work for Suddenlink.

“We believe this lawsuit is completely without merit, and we will vigorously defend our company against these baseless charges,” wrote Suddenlink's Pete Abel, senior vice president of corporate communications, in a e-mail to CED. “The evidence available to us indicates that customers have left FiberNet because they have had repeated service problems with FiberNet.”

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