FiberNet accuses Suddenlink of poaching business customers

FiberNet, which became part of NTELOS (Nasdaq: NTLS) when the telco bought them from the former One Communications, alleges that cable competitor Suddenlink Communications is unfairly luring away its customers, an accusation that Suddenlink denies.

In a suit filed in the Kanawha, West Va. Circuit Court, FiberNet argues that three former sales representatives that now work for Suddenlink have been leveraging confidential information to close their accounts with nTelos/FiberNet and switch to Suddenlink.

According to the complaint, FiberNet said it could lose over $1 million customer accounts and has asked a judge to make these employees return the customer information to nTelos/FiberNet. Before each of these sales representatives left the company, they signed "employee confidentiality and non-solicitation agreements" where they promised not to try to pursue customers for a competitor for a year.  

"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," said Kevin Jennings, manager of sales and marketing at FiberNet/nTelos.

However, Suddenlink argues in response to an article written by FierceTelecom's sister publication FierceCable that it has done nothing wrong other than winning over new customers with what it believes is a better service package and experience.

"We believe this lawsuit is completely without merit and we will vigorously defend our company against these baseless charges," Pete Abel, vice president of corporate communications at Suddenlink, wrote in an e-mail statement that was also delivered to the Charleston Gazette. "The evidence available to us indicates that customers have left FiberNet because they have had repeated service problems with FiberNet."

For more:
- The Charleston Gazette has this article
- here's FierceCable's take

Related articles:
NTELOS buys FiberNet from One Communications
FiberNet could be heading to the auction block
NTELOS to expand fiber network presence