Don’t throw out those billing inserts included with your long distance phone bill just yet. An important new disclosure statement, one which you should read and retain, may be in the mail from your long distance provider. On July 31, 2001, a new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) “Detariffing Order” takes effect. The order requires long distance telephone companies providing state-to-state and some international phone services to disclose long distance rates, terms and conditions to consumers.
Detariffing – What does this mean?
In the past, long distance phone companies filed a document called a “tariff” with the FCC to provide notice and disclose changes in long distance service rates, terms and conditions. Detariffing means that long distance companies no longer file tariffs with the FCC but instead must inform new and existing customers of the rates, terms and conditions concerning their long distance telephone service.
Consumer Impact of Detariffing
When you choose a long distance provider, both you and the company are contractually bound by the terms of service. In order for the service provider to change the long distance service rates, terms or conditions, they must first advise you of the change and provide the option of accepting or rejecting any material contractual changes, such as a change in rates. The new FCC order requires the following of long distance service providers:
The benefits to the consumer resulting from the FCC Detariffing Order include:
As with any contractual relationship, scrutinize the following aspects in your long distance disclosure agreement:
You may wish to call various long distance companies, including your current provider, for additional information on their plans and services.
The Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer protection is here to help. If you need more information, visit the website at www.attorneygeneral.gov or call the toll-free Hotline at 1-800-441-2555.
Bureau of Consumer Protection * 14th Floor Strawberry Square * Harrisburg, PA 17120 * 1-800-441-2555