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Posts tagged: WUTC

State regulators fine Frontier Communications $41,400 for check policy

Washington state regulators fined Frontier Communications Northwest Inc. (DBA Frontier) for overcharging customers for returned checks. 

Washington's  Utilities and Transportation Commission found Frontier committed 414 violations of the state’s consumer protection rules and penalized the company $41,400 for improperly charging customers a higher fee than allowed for returned checks. 

Frontier has 15 days to pay the fine, request a hearing to contest the violations or seek a mitigated solution and lower fine.

The company is not allowed to pass penalty costs to customers through rates. 

The violations were found during an investigation of returned check fees charged to customers from Aug. 1, 2010, to March 31, 2012. UTC staff found Frontier was improperly charging $20 and $25 fees for returned customer checks, higher than the $15 the company is authorized to collect.

Frontier is the fifth-largest U.S. landline company.  In Washington it has 321,300 phone lines; its Eastern Washington cities are Wenatchee, Kennewick, Pullman, Chelan, Richland and Newport.

State approves Century-Tel, Qwest telecom merger

Washington state regulators on Monday approved the pending merger of telecom firms CenturyLink, Inc. and Qwest Communications.

Some conditions were attached to the deal, which has been more than a year in the making.

The Washington state Utilities and Transportation Commission set five multiparty settlement agreements over the key issues raised about the merger.

The overall goal, said the WUTC, is providing rate stability for residential and business telephone customers, protecting consumers from merger costs and expanding broadband Internet service to underserved areas in Washington. 

The companies have 15 calendar days to state objections to the extra conditions placed on the two companies.  Those conditions set by the WUTC include these:

  • Capping local telephone residential rates for at least three years after the sale closes.
  • Requiring the combined company to make an $80 million investment in broadband so high-speed Internet service will be available to more Washington consumers.
  • Preventing the new company from passing on merger costs to ratepayers.
  • Reporting merger savings and cost-cutting measures to the WUTC.
  • Reducing the new company’s fees charged to other carriers which should help lower long-distance rates for calls made within the state.
  • Submitting detailed plans to WUTC staff before transitioning to any new computer operating systems that affect customer services like billing or filling new phone orders. 

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Scott Maben Scott Maben is a Deputy City Editor who covers North Idaho news and higher education.

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