$150 incentive offered if you go with Fibrant

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 17, 2011

By Emily Ford
SALISBURY — The city is providing a $150 incentive to switch to Fibrant.
Anyone who signs up for Salisbury’s new broadband utility by Aug. 1 will receive up to $150 credit on their account to cover penalties from private providers.
“We heard from a lot of customers who wanted to sign up, but they had early termination fees so they were going to have to wait until the contract was over,” Assistant City Manager Doug Paris said.
The city’s marketing team and Fibrant staff came up with the promotion based on suggestions from residents, Paris said. The campaign’s tagline, “You asked and we listened,” reflects Fibrant’s homegrown customer service, he said.
Fibrant competes with private companies to sell Internet, cable TV and phone services.
“We think it’s interesting that they are spending hard-earned taxpayer dollars to acquire our customers,” said Dan Ballister, director of public affairs for Time Warner Cable Charlotte.
Fibrant has signed up more than 950 Salisbury homes and businesses in seven months.
Any cost the city incurs by offering the 45-day promotion will be offset by signing up customers months earlier than if they’d waited for contracts to expire, Paris said.
When Joshua Lavis called Time Warner Cable to terminate his service, he said the company played a 2009 recording of him verbally agreeing to a “two-year rate lock guarantee.”
Lavis said he heard his voice answering “yes” and “no” to questions asked by an automated system. He said at the time, he thought he was agreeing to a service addition, not a two-year contract.
“I think it’s sneaky the way they do it, but nonetheless I can’t argue the evidence,” he said.
Lavis ended his contract anyway and paid the $60 pro-rated termination fee. The city then credited his new Fibrant account $60 to cover the penalty.
Lavis has Fibrant at home and work, where he manages accounts for Trireme Import, a wine import company.
While crediting accounts to cover termination fees may cost the city in the short-term, “it’s going to benefit Fibrant in the long run as they are trying to gain a customer base,” he said.
The city’s promotion includes residential and business accounts. To earn the credit, customers must sign up for Fibrant by Aug. 1 and then present their final bill, including an early termination fee.
Fibrant operates at the Salisbury Customer Service Center, 1415 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. S.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.
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