The Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) has directed Ameritech Michigan, a telecommunications local exchange carrier (LEC) to discontinue its advertising campaign for a special program billed as a protection against "slamming" (em i.e., switching a customer's long-distance service without their knowledge or consent. A bill insert had urged customers to sign up for the program, and guaranteed that the LEC would not permit any changes to an account unless notified by the customer by telephone or in writing.
Interexchange carriers (IXCs) operating in the state complained that the LEC might use the program to delay customer requests to change providers and as "an opportunity to try and dissuade the customer from leaving Ameritech Michigan's service." They had also claimed that the bill insert was deliberately timed to predate implementation of intraLATA presubscription in Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin.
The PSC found that the LEC offered the protection in a misleading and anticompetitive manner, preventing informed choices among telecommunications providers and impeding the development of competition. The PSC directed the LEC to issue a corrective bill insert to inform customers that the protection program might cause delay in obtaining competitive services and prices from a new provider. It also ruled that any anti-slamming protection offered for six months after the corrective insert appears may not apply to intraLATA or local services unless the customer has first affirmatively selected a provider and then requested the protection. Re Complaint of Sprint Communications Co., L.P., Against Ameritech Michigan, Case No. U-11038, Aug. 1, 1996 (Mich.P.S.C.).