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Per-use Calling Services Draw Complaints

Fortnightly Magazine - November 1 1996

Consumer complaints about billings for newly introduced "per-use" services offered by local exchange carriers (LECs) has prompted the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) to direct BellSouth Telecommunications, Inc., Carolina Telephone and Telegraph Co., and Central Telephone Co. to improve customer education and offer liberal forgiveness policies for charges associated with the new services. The NCUC said that customer complaints demonstrated "a certain degree" of dissatisfaction with the way the LECs provide per-use services, such as call return, repeat dialing, call trace, and three-way calling.

While the NCUC did not require customers to presubscribe for the services, it acknowledged that most of the complaints involved charges for services the customer had not specifically requested. It allowed the existing per-use tariffs to remain in effect for six months while the LECs track the number of complaints, usage rate, and revenues billed, collected, and forgiven. Complaining customers will be forgiven once for charges they contest during that period. Re BellSouth Telecommunications, Inc., Docket No. P-7, Sub 831, P-10, Sub 484, Aug. 5, 1996 (N.C.U.C.).

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