Originally created 05/14/98

MCI agrees to $240,000 slamming settlement



TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- MCI will pay the state $240,000 to settle 134 complaints of slamming -- changing customers' long-distance service without authorization -- state regulators said Tuesday.

The state Public Service Commission voted to accept the monetary settlement and other conditions to which MCI agreed, including monthly reviews by the PSC.

The commission is adopting a zero-tolerance approach to slamming, Commissioner Joe Garcia said.

While consumers must protect themselves, he said, "Much of this responsibility should also lie with the companies."

"MCI agrees fully ... that changing a customer's ... carrier without his or her authorization is an unacceptable practice," company attorney Thomas F. O'Neil said in a statement from the company's Washington office.

MCI did not intentionally do that, O'Neil said.

He said the 134 complaints came while the company was installing long distance service to 2 million Florida customers in 1996 and 1997, and the changes were made in good faith in all but four of those cases.

"The existence of this handful of complaints needs to be placed in the context of the inevitability of human data entry error, inadvertent system failure, and miscommunication in a 2 million transaction environment," O'Neil said.

In addition to the payment, the company agreed to:

  • Tape calls to verify service change orders and keep the tapes for a year.
  • Provide complete explanations of circumstances surrounding consumer complaints to the PSC about the company and corrective actions taken.
  • Establish a toll-free number devoted to receiving and resolving slamming complaints.
  • Continue dialog and monthly reviews with the PSC regarding any complaints.
  • Invite PSC auditors to review methods of changing customers' long-distance service.