Local telecommunications service providers; changes; authorization for services; requirements; penalties; program termination




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44-157344-1573.  Local telecommunications service providers; changes; authorization for services; requirements; penalties; program termination

A.  A local telecommunications service provider or any person, firm or corporation that acts as an agent or representative on behalf of the local telecommunications service provider shall not:

1.  Make on behalf of a customer any change or direct a different local telecommunications service provider to make any change in a provider of a  local or long-distance telecommunications service for which there are multiple providers unless the provider, agent or representative complies with all authorization and confirmation procedures the commission establishes by rule and all procedures prescribed in federal law and regulations.  Any act by a person, firm or corporation that is the agent or representative of a local telecommunications service provider is an act of that local telecommunications service provider.  The commission may adopt rules relating to mitigating circumstances under this subsection.

2.  Fail to make on behalf of a customer any change in a provider of a local or long-distance telecommunications service for which there are multiple providers if the provider, agent or representative has received a change order in a manner that complies with commission rules and federal regulations.  The provider, agent or representative shall properly process the compliant change order within a reasonable period of time after receiving the order as prescribed by the commission by rule to ensure that the order is completed and to enable the new local or long-distance telecommunications service provider to provide service to the customer.

3.  Use a sweepstakes, contest or drawing entry form as authorization to change or add local telecommunications services to a customer's telecommunications bill or change a customer's local telecommunications service provider.

4.  Use any written authorization agreement to change or add local telecommunications service unless the authorization is clear, conspicuous and printed in at least ten point bold type.  The authorization agreement shall also be in the same language as any promotional or inducement materials provided to the customer.

5.  Charge a customer through the customer's local telecommunications bill for local telecommunications services without the customer's authorization to add the local telecommunications services to the customer's bill.

B.  If an authorized change in a local telecommunications service provider is made, the new local telecommunications service provider shall notify the customer of the change within thirty days after receiving the change order in the manner determined by the commission pursuant to subsection K of this section.  A local telecommunications service provider shall maintain a record of the written or electronically recorded verification process chosen, including voice recordings, for a period of twenty-four months after the date of the verification.

C.  A customer of local telecommunications service does not have to pay for any local telecommunications service that the customer does not authorize.

D.  If the customer pays for any local telecommunications service that the customer did not authorize, the unauthorized local telecommunications service provider is liable to the customer or the customer's properly authorized local telecommunications service provider in an amount that is equal to all of the charges paid by the customer to the unauthorized local telecommunications service provider.

E.  To obtain restitution of the unauthorized local telecommunications charges, the customer may either recover all of the unauthorized local telecommunications charges directly from the unauthorized local telecommunications service provider or request that the properly authorized local telecommunications service provider recover all unauthorized local telecommunications charges from the unauthorized local telecommunications service provider on behalf of the customer.  If the customer requests the properly authorized local telecommunications service provider to recover the unauthorized local telecommunications charges, the authorized local telecommunications service provider shall provide a refund or credit to the customer of any amount recovered from the unauthorized local telecommunications service provider that is more than the amount that the customer would have paid for the same service if the unauthorized service had not been added or changed.

F.  The unauthorized local telecommunications service provider shall bear all costs of immediately transferring the customer to the customer's original local telecommunications service provider and restoring the customer's service.

G.  On notification  by a customer that an unauthorized change to or addition of a local telecommunications service has occurred, the authorized local telecommunications service provider or the unauthorized local telecommunications service provider shall inform the customer of the available dispute resolution options prescribed in this section.

H.  After notice and an opportunity for a hearing, if the commission determines that a local telecommunications service provider violated any provision of this section, commission rule or order adopted pursuant to this section or federal law or regulation relating to making a change in local telecommunications service provider for intrastate or interstate service or relating to billing for unauthorized services, the commission may impose on the local telecommunications service provider a civil penalty of not more than seven thousand five hundred dollars for the first violation and not more than fifteen thousand dollars for each subsequent violation in this state.  In determining whether to impose a civil penalty or the amount of the civil penalty under this section, the commission may consider any matter it deems appropriate including whether the change of service resulted from a negligent or intentional act by the local telecommunications service provider and the procedures used by the local telecommunications service provider to avoid incidents of unauthorized changes of local telecommunications service, procedures relating to supervision of agents, standards required to be met by agents, standards for monitoring agents' calls, discipline imposed on agents for erroneous or intentional unauthorized changes of service and any other good faith effort made by the provider to avoid incidents of unauthorized changes of service. The commission shall deposit, pursuant to sections 35 146 and 35 147, the monies collected pursuant to this subsection in the state general fund.

I.  This section does not apply to the initial installation of telephone service by a local telecommunications service provider.

J.  The penalties prescribed in this section are in addition to all other causes of action, remedies and penalties provided under the laws of this state.

K.  The commission may adopt rules for making a change in local telecommunications service provider that are not inconsistent with federal law and regulations and that include at least all of the following:

1.  Procedures for a customer to confirm a change made by another local telecommunications service provider on behalf of the customer.

2.  Procedures by which the new local telecommunications service provider shall notify a customer of the change.

3.  A requirement that the new local telecommunications service provider that provides local telecommunications service in this state shall verify the customer's change.  The commission rules may specify that:

(a)  The local telecommunications service provider may use either a written or electronically recorded verification including without limitation voice recordings.

(b)  The verification shall not contain any inducement that is different from or in addition to any inducement offered to the customer at the time the customer was contacted to change the customer's local telecommunications service provider.



4.  Enforcement measures.

L.  The program established by this section ends on July 1, 2009 pursuant to section 41 3102.44-1573


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