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FAQ

You have the right to choose the long distance carrier that has the best plan for your needs. Long distance companies are aggressively competing for your long distance dollars. It is up to you to carefully read any offers and beware of deceptive marketing tactics. Here are a few to be aware of:


Slamming
Unauthorized switching of your phone service from your long distance carrier to another without your consent. This practice may involve misleading marketing or outright fraud. Prohibited by Federal law and the FCC. The FCC requires a long distance company to obtain your authorization before changing your long distance provider.

Checks in the Mail
Be cautious about checks from telephone companies offering money to switch to their service. Some companies may not put you on their best savings plan and you can end up paying more in monthly rates than the value of the check. Look on the back of the check to see if you need to mark a box to receive discounted service. The check must clearly state that the customer is authorizing a change in service and offer a full explanation of the charges you are authorizing next to the signature of the check. If you do cash the check, quickly call the carrier's customer service to make sure that you have been placed in the best discount program.

Huge Discounts
Some long distance companies encourage you to switch by offering "huge discounts." Often they are only comparing their rates to the highest rates of well-known carriers and may charge a hidden monthly access fee.

Introductory Offers
Some companies may give you a discounted rate for a limited time then increase your rates until you cancel. Some even charge a fee for change in service. Ask about fees and cancellation policies before you sign up.

Fine Print
Before signing up, read the fine print of promotional materials for monthly fees and other charges.

Verification Gimmicks
Some companies may call offering a great deal for one service, but when you speak to a verifier to complete the sale they may attempt to sell you additional services. Be completely clear on the deal before you are transferred to the verifier. Then listen carefully to confirm that you are buying only what you agreed to.

You have rights when it comes to local and long distance service.

Make Informed Decision
You have the right to make an informed decision by comparing products and services. Several consumer groups make resources available to help your search: The FCC's National Call Center, provides consumer information on telephone issues. 1-888-CALL-FCC (1888-225-5322). The Tele-Consumer Hotline offers free publications to address telecommunication related issues. Send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Tele-Consumer Hotline, PO Box 27279, Washington D.C. 20005

Avoid Slamming
You can get a "carrier freeze" from your local carrier to prevent changes to your long distance carrier unless you change it directly.

Right to Change to Another Carrier
You have the right to change to another long distance carrier whenever you wish to. Remember to contact your local carrier if you have a long distance carrier freeze on your local phone service.

Right to Complain
If reporting problems to your telephone company does not get a solution, consider contacting: Your state Attorney General's office about fraudulent or deceptive practices. Check the government section of your phone book. The FCC about slamming or out-of-state long distance problems. Write to: FCC, Common Carrier Bureau, Consumer Complaints, Mail Stop 1600A2, Washington, DC 20554. Your letter should include your name; address; day-time telephone number; a summary of your complaint; the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all companies involved with your complaint; the telephone number involved with your complaint, such as your home or business telephone number; copies of disputed telephone bills and other documents, such as promotional material or the form used to change your long distance service; and the action you are requesting, such as a credit or refund for disputed charges. The National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) about complaints concerning inaccurate or misleading national advertisements for telecommunications products or services. NAD is the advertising industry's voluntary self-regulation program. It was designed by an alliance between the advertising industry and the CBBB to review and monitor national advertising to ensure its truthfulness and accuracy. You can register a complaint by writing to: National Advertising Division, 845 Third Avenue, 17th Floor, New York, NY 10022.

Right to Get a Refund
If you are being switched to different long distance carrier that you did not request, immediately call your local telephone company and your original long distance carrier to be switched back at no charge. You should also receive a refund from the company that tried to switch you without permission if you were charged a switching fee or billed at higher rates than your own carrier's rates.

For more information visit the FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bereau.
 
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