Angry customers threatened the Federal Communications Commission they’d contact President Trump—who supports demolishing net neutrality—if the regulator didn’t solve their internet, TV, and phone woes.
Three dozen people were so infuriated with Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, and other telecommunications companies that they called or wrote to the FCC and name-dropped The Donald, presumably believing that the president was the ultimate solution to high bills or routine service problems.
The Daily Beast reviewed more than 1,400 pages of complaints sent to the FCC that mentioned Trump since the president announced his campaign in June 2015, and discovered that in the weeks and months after the election, nine telecom customers outright threatened the FCC. Another 12 didn’t directly threaten the regulator, but suggested they had contacted, or were about to contact the president.
“YOU TOOK NO ACTION OTHER THAN TO CLOSE OUT COMPLAINT WHICH IS WHY I REQUESTED THE SUPERVISOR OF THE LAZY ASS THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO HANDLE THIS COMPLAINT BUT CHOSE TO SIT ON ASS TAKING TAX PAYER DOLLARS FOR WORK NOT DONE,” wrote a Virgin Mobile customer in Maryland in March. “GUESS DONALD TRUMP NEEDS TO CUT JOBS AT FCC TOO.”
“I am sure you have piles of complaints from me already,” wrote an individual from Georgia in December 2016. “I will be happy to write President Trump to either clean your swamp or have someone to replace you if not get rid of the damn FCC altogether,” they said, in a complaint about bandwidth caps. They insisted: “If you are deliberately ignoring me, for humanity’s sake tell me, and I will write my Congressmen/women instead.”
“Tomorrow I will send a registered formal complaint to my Senator, my congressman and the new President Elect Donald Trump against AT&T. In the meantime, very expensive equipment is sitting idle because it can’t communicate with my Condo and winter cottage!!!” one customer in Louisiana wrote in a complaint about problems with their IP address.
“MY CHILD WAS IN PLAYA DEL CARMEN AND COULD NOT CALL ME AFTER THE SHOOTING AT THE BLUE PARROT,” a Comcast customer in Florida complained, referring to a deadly mass shooting at a Mexican night club in January. “TRUMP ADMINISTRATION SHOULD NAIL [Comcast] FOR WORST CUSTOMER SERVICE OF ANY COMPANY IN AMERICA OR THIS PLANET. AND THEY OVERBILLED ME FOR JANUARY BY OVER $60.00.”
Another customer claimed they had voted for Trump because of problems with Comcast. “My credit score has been ruined because Comcast sent my account to collections without ever mailing or emailing me about any bill… Clearly the government allows this to happen without regard to the customer, especially since Comcast lobbyists control the very regulators who should regulate them. This is why I voted for Trump,” said the Texas-based customer.
One Minnesota-based customer believed Trump would be able to fix connection issues while they were trying to watch football. “Why do the networks keep jacking Free T.V. Signals. Always in the most inopportune times. For instance Sunday Monday night football… Maybe Trump will fix it??”
The FCC supplied the documents in response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act. The Daily Beast was still waiting on several hundred more complaints mentioning Trump at publication time.
Any belief that Trump would fix these kinds of problems is seriously misguided. In June, Trump nominated Republican lawyer Brendan Carr, who has worked with AT&T and Verizon, among other telecom groups, as one of the FCC’s five commissioners. Carr is a former legal adviser to Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer whom Trump appointed as the FCC’s chairman days after his inauguration. Pai previously served as an FCC commissioner under Obama.
In April, Trump signed a bill that rolls back FCC privacy rules and allows your ISP to sell your private data to advertisers. In July, he backed the FCC’s plans to undo net neutrality rules, with a White House spokesperson saying: “We support the FCC chair’s efforts to review and consider rolling back these rules.”
Some customers targeted Trump over their billing and service problems. In a complaint about rising bills from CenturyLink, a customer in Colorado wrote: “It’s like talking to Trump and I’m fed up with both.”
The FCC says it sends customer complaints about billing and service problems to service providers, which then have 30 days to respond. “We encourage you to contact your provider to resolve your issue prior to filing a complaint,” the FCC states on its website. In the past, the regulator has fined telecom companies millions of dollars for improper billing practices, and other breaches of regulations, including hitting Verizon with a $25 million fine in 2010 for overcharging customers.
The Daily Beast contacted the FCC for further details on how it handles these kinds of complaints, but did not hear back by press time.