Understanding Your Bill: Requirements for Truth in Billing
Lackawaxen Telecommunications Services has prepared the following information, in the form of questions and answers, to help you understand the new "Truth in Billing" rules, issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). After a brief summary, youll find what we hope is appropriate and timely customer information. If you still have questions, our Customer Service Reps and other LTS employees will be glad to help you resolve your billing issues or explain your rights as ensured by the Truth in Billing rules.
The FCC has issued a number of requirements and standards that local telephone companies, such as Lackawaxen Telecommunications Services, and other telecom service providers must follow in billing customers. These requirements are commonly referred to as "Truth in Billing" (TIB). The FCC ordered these changes to help consumers better understand how they are billed for various services and to combat the increased incidence of slamming, cramming, and other telephone fraud abuse.
In summary, the TIB rules require the following:
Truth in Billing
As a result of these requirements, we made revisions to the bills we send you. At the same time, wed like to emphasize that, as part of our commitment to high-quality service, Lackawaxen has always maintained a one-to-one relationship with our customers here in Wayne and Pike counties. Customer service is the cornerstone of our philosophy and mission. Likewise, weve always encouraged customers to contact us about any problems or questions they have about their bills or their service. So, while your bills may look different as a result of all the FCC-mandated requirements, the changes do not reflect any variation from Lackawaxens traditional dedication to serving you or our community.
Q. I do not recognize the names of some of the companies listed on my bill. Who are they, and why are they billing me?
A. Any company that has charged you for using its services has its name and toll-free telephone number included on your bill, along with the charges for the services. If you dont recognize the company or have questions about the services for which youve been charged, call that company to ask for identification and more information about the services.
A. The TIB rules require that we organize your telephone bill so that charges from each company billing you for service(s) appear separately. For example, if you have chosen AT&T for your in-region (intra-LATA) long-distance calls and Lackawaxen Long Distance for your out-of-region (inter-LATA) long-distance calls, your bill will list all your AT&T calls separately from all your Lackawaxen Long Distance calls.
Q. A company listed on my bill has charged me for telephone-related services, but I dont understand the charges, and the description for the services is unclear. Can you explain them to me?
A. Some of the charges you find on your phone bill may not be from Lackawaxen Telecommunications Services. The name and toll-free number of the company billing you for services is listed in the section where the charges appear. You can call that company and ask for an explanation of the charges. You may also dispute the charges and request that the company remove those charges from your bill.
Lackawaxen also reminds you that, as part of our ongoing service commitment to our customers, you can always contact our business office if you have additional questions about the charges on your bill or if you encounter any difficulties in contacting the service providers listed on your bill. If youre not satisfied with the response from that service provider, we will try to help you resolve the problem.
Increasingly, telemarketers and con artists are using your phone numbers to post unauthorized and fraudulent charges in the data thats sent to us for billing. These charges can be for many things; e.g., voice mail, calling cards, personal 800 numbers, 900 services, even sweepstakes and other marketing offers, but the result is that the charges are included in the data sent to us for billing. We have no way to monitor its accuracy.
The changes we have made to the format of your bill are meant to help you more easily identify any unauthorized or fraudulent charges.
On the other hand, services billed solely on a "per-transaction" basis, such as directory assistance, dial-around (10-10-xxx) toll calls, and other "non-recurring" pay-per-call services, are not subject to the "notification" requirements.
A. The long-distance service provider you have chosen as your "preferred" carrier and any other long-distance company you have used to make your toll calls must provide clear explanations of all charges, surcharges, and other fees associated with the services for which you have been billed. The toll-free number for the long-distance company, or its billing agent, is listed on the same page of your bill as the charges and fees. You should call them and ask for an explanation of any charges or fees that you dont understand.
The other, "non-deniable" charges on your bill can result in the termination of the specific service provided by that company, but will not lead to the disconnection of your basic local service. If you dont recognize the charges, you should call the toll-free number listed on the bill within 60 days to ensure there is no interruption in the service in question.
The FCC requires that the toll-free number listed on customers bills as the "inquiry contact" regardless of whether its for the actual service provider, a billing agent, or an aggregators must connect you to a party that possesses "sufficient knowledge and authority" to resolve customer inquiries about their accounts and requests for adjustment.
The FCC adopted inquiry contacts as a fundamental billing principle because of growing consumer concern about the complexity of telecom service bills and because of increased fraud and abuse in customers charges. The FCC intends for the inquiry contacts to help consumers become more educated about their bills and the billing process. The FCC believes that providing a billing inquiry contact will help minimize customer confusion about the charges on their bills and enable customers to resolve billing disputes more easily and promptly.
Q. Are service providers required to list their business address on my bill? How do I contact a service provider if Im not satisfied with the resolution reached over the phone?
A. The FCC did not require service providers to include a business address on each telephone bill for the receipt of consumer inquiries and complaints. However, service providers are required to make their business address available upon request to consumers through their toll-free number.