Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced the filing of its fourth agreement with MCI Worldcom Communications, Inc. addressing a variety of alleged unlawful trade practices including a failure to provide clear directions to consumers about the cancellation of long distance service. An Assurance of voluntary Compliance with the Delaware telecommunications giant was filed in Marion County Circuit Court and admitted no law violation.
"MCI has a poor record with our office but we are hopeful that it can be improved greatly as it makes the extensive operational changes agreed to in this settlement," Myers said. "As a result of our investigation, MCI has redoubled its efforts to resolve consumer complaints."
In the last 16 months, 324 consumers complained about a wide range of MCI's operating procedures one of which raised particular concerns and needed to be permanently changed," Myers explained.
Department of Justice investigators found problems when some customers requested that MCI terminate their service. Customers who switch to a new carrier can do so with a single call; those who wish to cancel landline long distance altogether may need to make two calls, one to their long distance carrier and another to their local telephone company. If a consumer fails to notify their local phone company, MCI remains the subscriber's chosen long distance carrier. Justice found that MCI failed to provide clear direction to consumers who wished to terminate their MCI long distance service.
Today's agreement requires MCI to clearly disclose to consumers the two call requirement if they have not previously contacted their local telephone company and to advise consumers that their long distance rate for calls will increase unless the subscriber also notifies their local telephone company. Furthermore, MCI must make the same disclosures in writing within ten days after the account is cancelled. If after appropriate notification the customer fails to contact their local telephone company and if MCI opens a long distance account, it must give "clear and conspicuous" written notification.
Under the agreement, MCI agrees to further operational and marketing changes concerning calling cards, notice requirements for rate increase or service agreement changes for subscribers, telemarketing practices, requirements relating to billing and collection actions and installations of long distance accounts. The company also agrees to comply with the Unlawful Trade Practices Act and all Oregon telephone solicitation laws.
MCI paid Justice $60,000 for its Consumer Protection and Education Revolving Account. The company paid Justice a total of $110,000 in three earlier agreements.
Consumers wanting more information about consumer protection in Oregon 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. Justice is online at www.doj.state.or.us.
Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) firstname.lastname@example.org