FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
News media information 202/418-0500
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
November 1, 2000
NEWS MEDIA CONTACT:|
John Winston (202) 418-7450
Washington, DC - Today the Enforcement Bureau (Bureau) of the Federal Communications Commission announced the conclusion of a nationwide investigation of compliance with the Communications Act's (Act) consumer protection measures for telephone operator services. As a result of its investigation, the Bureau entered into consent decrees with USLD Communications, Inc., AT&T Corp., and WorldCom, Inc. requiring voluntary payments to the U.S. Treasury of $150,000, $105,000 and $56,000 respectively. The Bureau also issued citations to 97 entities, mainly hotels and motels, for non-compliance with the requirements of the Act and is working with the American Hotel and Motel Association (AHMA) to implement an operator service education and compliance campaign for the hospitality industry.
The Act generally requires that operator service providers (OSPs) and owners of telephones serving away-from-home consumers provide consumers information about their calling choices and allow them to choose any OSP by dialing an access code. During the course of the investigation, the Bureau's field staff inspected and made test calls from over 1,700 ``aggregator'' locations (such as payphones and phones located in hotel or motel rooms) across the country.
The voluntary payments under the consent decrees with USLD, AT&T, and WorldCom reflect the Enforcement Bureau's assessment of the relative seriousness of these companies' potential compliance problems as detected during the investigation. In general, those problems related to providing rate and billing information on request to consumers calling from hotels, motels and payphones, as well as informing them of complaint procedures on request. In addition to the voluntary payments, USLD, AT&T, and WorldCom each has agreed to take additional steps to ensure that they provide the required information to consumers, including: (1) immediate focused training for their operators regarding the consumer information requirements; (2) a long-term operator training regimen; and (3) a monitoring process to ensure that operators are actually providing requested information to consumers.
The citations issued to hotels and motels generally dealt with issues regarding the posting of information to enable the consumer to make an informed choice of his or her long distance carrier, and the unblocking of OSP access codes. In a cooperative effort to better educate its members about the Act's consumer protection requirements, the AHMA has informally agreed to publish articles detailing those requirements in upcoming issues of its two trade periodicals, one of which reaches over 45,000 hotels and motels across the United States. Further, the AHMA has informally agreed to distribute educational materials on operator services at its November 2000 conference in New York City.
Action by the Enforcement Bureau on November 1, 2000 by Orders
(DA 00-2456, DA-00-2457 and DA-00-2458 ).
EB File Nos. EB-00-TC-043, EB-00-TC-044, EB-00-TC-045.
Enforcement Bureau Contacts: John Winston at (202) 418-7450 or David Hunt at (202) 418-1522.