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"Slamming" Complaints Spark Action, Legislation

Fortnightly Magazine - September 1 1997

The Alabama Public Service Commission has formally requested that state law enforcement officials prosecute a reseller of telecommunications services for ongoing incidents of "deceptive and misleading" marketing activities.

The so-called "slamming" practices include switching customers without documenting their consent. Earlier in the year, the commission had found that Long Distance Services Inc. had engaged in a series of improper practices, including the use of sweepstake boxes, to sign up new customers to its service without proper consent. The commission also had noted recurring allegations of forgery on the letters to switch the customers from their existing carriers. Finding that the reseller had exhibited "flagrant disregard" for its earlier rulings aimed at curing marketing deficiencies, the commission said it had no choice but to refer the matter to the state attorney general for enforcement action.

In a related move, the commission gave notice to all telecommunications carriers in the state that new legislation (S. 113) had just been enacted that would bar any unauthorized switching of telecommunications service and allow the commission to impose fines for violation of the rule. Re Alabama PSC v. Long Distance Services, Inc. Docket 23800, May 21, 1997 (Ala.P.S.C.).

Phillip S. Cross is an associate legal editor of PUBLIC UTILITIES FORTNIGHTLY.

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