Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced that a long-distance service provider with offices throughout the country will cease its misleading business practices including "slamming and cramming" as part of an agreement filed today in Marion County Circuit Court. Named in an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance is Qwest Communications, a Delaware corporation.
"Oregonians regularly complain about unauthorized service charges that appear on their monthly phone bills, "Myers said. "In 1999, the "slamming and cramming" by long distance companies was number one on our Top Ten Consumer Complaint List."
In more than 20 complaints against the company, consumers alleged that Qwest was responsible for having their long-distance telephone service switched without authorization (slamming) and misrepresented the cost of long distance services. In one case, an elderly consumer, who was slammed, died weeks before she allegedly authorized the change to Qwest. For several months, the company continued to bill the deceased woman even after receiving complaints from her son.
Department of Justice investigators also determined that Qwest promised free airline tickets to consumers if they would switch long distance service but never provided the tickets.
Qwest, admitting no law violation, agrees to provide restitution to those customers who wish to change their service from Qwest, to re-calculate telephone charges where the actual cost per minute for services was higher than promised and to provide plane tickets as promised to consumers. The company will pay $75,000 to the Department of Justice consumer education fund.
Attorney General Myers urges consumers to read phone bills carefully and to check for unauthorized charges or changes to long distance carriers. Those finding unauthorized charges should file written complaints with the Attorney General's office, the telephone company, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Send the same complaint to each agency or company. Addresses are available by calling the Attorney General's toll-free, consumer hotline at 1-877-877-9392, (503) 378-4320 (Salem area only) or (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only).
A free booklet on "Slamming and Cramming" is available by writing Financial Fraud/ Consumer Protection, 1162 Court Street, N.E., Salem, Oregon 97310.
Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) firstname.lastname@example.org