Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced the filing of court actions against two companies for changing consumers long distance service without their permission ("slamming") and a third company for misrepresenting roaming tax charges on consumers' bills.
Assurances of Voluntary Compliance were filed in Marion and Multnomah County Circuit Courts naming Sprint Spectrum LP of Overland Park, Kansas, America's Tele-Network Corporation (ATN) of Roswell, Georgia, and Coordinated Billing Services of Excelsior, Minnesota. The settlement agreements admit no violation of law.
"These actions serve as reminders to all Oregonians to carefully read their telephone bills for unauthorized charges and non-existent taxes," Myers said. "If the bill isn't accurate and you can not get a clear explanation of the charges, pay only what is legally owed and dispute the bill."
Department of Justice received consumer complaints alleging that during phone conversations initiated by Coordinated Billing, they either thought they were responding to a phone survey about their long distance service or that they were speaking to a US West representative when neither was true. Customers complained that the callers spoke very quickly, confused them about the purpose of the call and then later on, the company switched their long-distance service without their authorization.
Coordinated Billing agreed to provide restitution to consumers that complained to Justice, make changes in its business practices and pay $8,000 to the consumer protection and education fund.
America's Tele-Network Corporation, who was already operating under a 1999 agreement for "slamming," is permanently prohibited from doing business in Oregon and will surrender its Certificate of Authority to the Public Utility Commission (PUC) by July 15, 2001.
ATN has made restitution to all consumers complaining about "slamming" and billing issues and it must notify all its former Oregon customers that they need to obtain a new long distance telephone carrier.
Sprint Spectrum, a wireless telecommunications provider that does business in Oregon as Sprint PCS, billed a Lake Oswego customer for a city roaming tax. In checking with the Lake Oswego city manager, the consumer discovered that no such tax existed.
Under its agreement, Sprint admitted that the billing was incorrect and agreed to alert other customers to the problem by printing an alert on their monthly bills. Sprint also paid $2,500 to the Department of Justice consumer protection and education fund.
Oregonians wanting information on "slamming and cramming" may call the Attorney General's consumer hotline at (503) 378-4320 (Salem area only), (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only) or toll-free at 1-877-877-9392.
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