Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced the filing of court actions against three companies for violating the Oregon "No Call" law and a telecommunications company for "slamming and cramming" Oregon residents. Myers also reminded consumers that June 15 is the deadline for subscribing to the Oregon "No Call" program in order to appear on the July quarterly list.
"Consumers should be extremely angry when a telecommunications company has the audacity to change their long distance service without their authorization or put an unauthorized charge on their telephone bill," Myers said. "Ask any consumer what their number one complaint is and most will tell you the telecommunications industry. We also are angry about the number of law violations we see in this industry and will continue to fight this unlawful activity." "Slamming" is the practice of switching customers' long distance carriers without their permission and "cramming" is unexplained charges on phone bills for services never ordered, authorized, received or used.
Department of Justice lawyers filed an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance today in Marion County Court House against Touch America, Inc. of Butte, Montana, a telecommunications provider offering long distance telephone service and Internet access. The company, part of the Montana Power Company, acquired Qwest's long-distance service in a 14-state area when Qwest was required to divest its long-distance customers before assuming control of the former US West. The AVC admits no violation of law.
Oregonians from Medford to Portland filed complaints against the company alleging "slamming," "cramming," unlawful billing and misrepresentation of the cost of services. As part of the agreement, Touch America has made account credits or, in some cases, given full restitution to consumers. The company paid Justice $10,000 for its consumer protection and education fund.
Eric Thurman of Springfield, a carpet cleaner who does business in Oregon as Stainmasters, signed his second agreement with Justice concerning violations of the "No Call" law. Thurman is now permanently enjoined from telemarketing in the state. The agreement allows him to call current customers. However, if Thurman calls a customer that earlier has told him not to call, Justice may impose $1,000 fine per each call.
American Remodeling, a residential construction and remodeling company operating out of Vancouver, Washington, also signed a second agreement with Justice after violating a 2001 AVC by again calling a consumer on the "No Call" list. The company paid $700 for the new call and must take additional measures that would prevent future violations.
Portland security systems business, WMD Alarm, has signed an agreement with Justice for six "No Call" complaints. The company will pay $6,000 to Justice for its consumer protection and education fund.
The Attorney General reminded Oregonians not on the "No Call" list that June 15, 2002 is the deadline. The list is updated quarterly and more than 75,000 residents subscribe at $6.50 for the first calendar year and $3 for each yearly renewal. Approximately 120 companies have signed settlement agreements and paid more than $450,000 in fines since the law went into effect two years ago. More than 1,000 telemarketers pay $120 a year to subscribe to the list.
The "No Call" law prohibits telemarketers doing business in Oregon from calling residential phones listed on the "No Call" list with few exemptions.
Consumers wanting to subscribe to Oregon "No Call" may call toll- free at 1-877-700-6622 or online at www.ornocall.com. [UPDATE: The Oregon No Call web site is no longer operational. To sign up for the federal Do Not Call registry, go to www.donotcall.gov. And then add the hyperlink to www.donotcall.gov.] Information also is available by calling 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. Justice is online at www.doj.state.or.us.
Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) firstname.lastname@example.org