Attorney General Hardy Myers today filed nine settlement agreements relating to telecommunications cases. Two of the filings are against telecommunications companies, one for alleged "slamming" and the other for not providing a pre-paid service. The seven additional agreements are with companies that violated Oregon's "No Call" law that protects Oregonians from unwanted telephone solicitations. The actions admit no violation of law.
"Our consumer hotline is inundated with calls from Oregonians complaining about the telecommunications industry," Myers said. "Telecommunications was the number one category on last year's Top 10 Complaint List and it appears, it will be number one again in 2002."
Named in two Assurances of Voluntary Compliance filed in Marion County Circuit Court are 1-800-RECONEX, Inc. of Hubbard and New Access Communications, LLC of Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The Department of Justice received 32 complaints from 1-800-Reconex customers from throughout the United States concerning the company's inability to provide the service in the time touted in their marketing materials. When deadlines were not met, consumers tried in vain to get their installation fee or first month's payment refunded.
Under the agreement, the company must make restitution to named individuals, make clear disclosures concerning installation times and provide a staffed customer service line to answer billing and service problems. The company must provide pro-rata prepayments for unused service and pay Justice $25,000 for the Consumer Protection and Education Fund.
Department of Justice investigators found that employees of New Access Communications misrepresented themselves to consumers as being connected with Qwest Communications when they were not. They also misled consumers as to the cost and type of service they would receive for their money. More than 50 complaints were filed against the company
alleging misrepresentations of costs of certain services and "slamming," the practice of switching customers' long distance carriers without their permission.
Justice, while investigating the allegations, found that the company's own third-party verification tapes proved some of the consumers did not understand what they were agreeing to. Consumers also indicated that they tried to cancel the New Access service but could never reach a service representative for assistance.
Under the agreement, New Access must disclose which service will be switched and the fixed rates and terms of all switched services. The company also must send new customers the introductory, information packet within two business days of the third party verification and have customer service representatives on hand to answer customer questions.
New Access must provide restitution to "slamming" victims and pay Justice $33,000 for its Consumer Protection and Education Fund.
Seven Assurances were filed against the following companies for violating the Oregon "No Call" law:
Richard Bock of Wilsonville , doing business as Rickmar Enterprises, Inc. and The Killers, pest control services, $4,000
Kirby Sales and Service of Tigard, Kirby product sales, $2,500
Community Lending, Inc. of Vancouver, Washington, doing business in Oregon as Crown Home Mortgage, refinances mortgages, $9,000
Integrated Credit Solutions of Largo, Florida, solicits for non-profit credit services, $20,000
Katrina Littlejohn of Hubbard, doing business as "Work from Home" as a sales opportunity through Herbalife, $2,500
Trugreen Limited Partnership of Memphis, Tennessee, doing business as Trugreen Chemlawn, $10,000
Trendwest Resorts, Inc. of Redmond, Washington, a vacation timeshare vendor, $2,000.
Both Trugreen Chemlawn and Trendwest Resorts signed earlier Assurances for "No Call" violations.
Oregon's two-year old "No Call" law currently has more than 70,000 consumers signed up to be on the list and more than 1,000 telemarketers subscribing to the list. The law prohibits telemarketers doing business in Oregon from calling residential phones listed on the Oregon "No Call" list with few exemptions.
Consumers wanting information on how to sign up for the "No Call" program 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 or online at www.doj.state.or.us.
Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) firstname.lastname@example.org