Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate

 

 

Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate
555 Walnut Street
5th Floor Forum Place
Harrisburg, PA 17101-1923

Phone: 717-783-5048 or toll free 800-684-6560
Fax: 717-783-7152

Email: consumer@paoca.org

CONSUMER ADVISORY
by Attorney General Mike Fisher

FCC DETARIFFING:
NEW RULES FOR LONG DISTANCE SERVICE

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:

  • Inform consumers of rates, terms, and conditions of service for state-to-state and select international plans
     
  • Disclose all international calling plan rates, terms and conditions by January 28, 2002
     
  • Post long distance rate information on their Website and at their place of business

The benefits to the consumer resulting from the FCC Detariffing Order include:

  • Long distance companies can no longer raise long distance rates without informing consumers
     
  • Full, public disclosure and details of all calling plans offered by long distance providers, not just current company promotions
     
  • Ease of long distance rate and term comparisons on the Web

As with any contractual relationship, scrutinize the following aspects in your long distance disclosure agreement:

  • Calling plan price
     
  • Duration of the calling plan
     
  • Procedure to accept or reject plan terms
  • Notification procedures your service provider will use to inform you of plan changes
     
  • Provisions for dispute resolution, such as arbitration, between you and the company

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

 

 
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