|Federal Communications Commission
1919 - M Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
|News media information 202 / 418-0500
Fax-On-Demand 202 / 418-2830
This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).
COMMISSION BARS FLETCHER COMPANIES FROM
The Commission today revoked the operating authority of the Fletcher Companies for
engaging in "slamming" and numerous other violations of the Communications Act and the
FCC's rules. The Fletcher Companies, a group of long distance telephone companies owned
and/or operated by Daniel Fletcher, and their principals, are now barred from providing
interstate common carrier services without the prior consent of the FCC. In addition, the
Commission assessed forfeitures against the Fletcher Companies totalling $5,681,500.
Today's action marks the first revocation order and largest total forfeiture assessed by the
Commission for slamming, the act of changing a consumer's telephone company without the
consumer's knowledge and consent. Prior to today's action, the Commission took
enforcement action against 17 companies for slamming violations, assessing nearly $2 million
in payments from carriers.|
The Commission received more than 1,400 complaints against the Fletcher Companies, with the majority of the complaints from mid-1996 through 1997. These complaints allege that the Fletcher Companies used misleading and, in some cases, fraudulent, marketing practices in order to change consumers from their selected long distance carrier to one of the Fletcher Companies without their knowledge or consent. Many complaints allege the egregious practice of slamming through forged or falsified Letters of Agency, the forms that authorize a long distance carrier change. Some consumers also claim they were charged for long distance calls they did not make, including calls to non-working numbers, or monthly fees for services they did not authorize.
In accordance with FCC rules, the Common Carrier Bureau's Enforcement Division served each consumer complaint on the Fletcher Companies and directed them to respond to each complaint in writing. The Fletcher Companies, however, failed to accept or respond to the vast majority of these notices. Further, the Fletcher Companies failed to provide legitimate business addresses and telephone numbers where Daniel Fletcher or other principals of the companies could be reached.
The Commission subsequently ordered a hearing to determine whether the continued operation of the Fletcher Companies as common carriers would be in the public interest. Because neither Daniel Fletcher nor any other representative of the Fletcher Companies filed a notice of appearance or appeared at the hearing, the Commission deemed allegations against the Fletcher Companies to be admitted. The Commission, therefore, has found that the Fletcher Companies committed numerous violations of both the FCC rules and the Act, including submitting unauthorized changes of consumers' long distance carriers; charging consumers for calls that they did not make; failing to file with the FCC tariffs to establish rates and charges; and failing to file with the FCC the name and address of a designated agent to receive Commission notices.
The Commission staff determined that each of the Fletcher Companies ceased providing common carrier services in 1997, while the FCC was engaged in a massive investigation into the companies' slamming practices. The Commission took this revocation action today to ensure that none of the companies can resume common carrier operations and once again engage in slamming or other conduct that is harmful to consumers. If the Fletcher Companies fail to forfeit to the U.S. government the $5,681,500 within 30 days, the matter will be referred to the Department of Justice for collection.
Slamming is the Commission's single largest source of telephone-related complaints. In 1997 alone, the Commission received more than 20,000 slamming complaints. Last year, the Commission proposed further anti-slamming rules, and the Commission is expected to adopt final rules this spring.
Action by the Commission April 21, 1998 by Order (FCC 98-76). Chairman Kennard, Commissioners Ness, Furchtgott-Roth, Powell, and Tristani.
News media contact: Rochelle Cohen at (202) 418-0253.