This News Release: Text | Word97
Order (DA No. 00-446): Text | Word97

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Federal Communications Commission
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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).

March 1, 2000
John Winston (202) 418-7450

MCI WorldCom and Enforcement Bureau Enter Consent Decree Regarding Marketing and Advertising Practices for Dial-Around Services and Casual Billing Practices

Washington, D.C. - Today, the Enforcement Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission released an Order adopting a Consent Decree between the Bureau and MCI WORLDCOM, Inc., (MCI WorldCom) in which MCI WorldCom agrees to be bound by various principles regarding its advertising and marketing practices for Dial-Around services and to modify its Casual Billing practices. Under the terms of the Consent Decree, MCI WorldCom will be reviewing all of its current Dial-Around advertisements and will be retracting those that do not meet the terms of the Consent Decree.

Specifically, the terms of the Consent Decree require MCI WorldCom to substantiate every explicit and implied statement in any Dial-Around advertisement, to prominently disclose the rate in all domestic Dial-Around advertisements, and to disclose clearly and conspicuously all material terms regarding Dial-Around services. The Consent Decree also requires MCI WorldCom to include the name of the carrier providing the service, a toll free number, and a web site where customers can gain further information about the service in which they are interested. Comparative claims must disclose the name of the comparison product and its rate or value. If the term "Basic Rate" is used, MCI WorldCom will disclose that basic rates are non-discounted rates. To the extent MCI WorldCom advertises its Dial-Around services nationally, it will clearly and conspicuously disclose that its Dial-Around services may not be available in all locations. Furthermore, the Consent Decree requires MCI WorldCom to train its customer service representatives to respond with accurate and complete information to inquiries regarding its Dial-Around services as well as any services to which MCI WorldCom's services are compared.

With regard to MCI WorldCom's national directory assistance service, also a Dial-Around product, the company has agreed to instruct its operators to disclose either a flat, per-minute rate or the range of rates that will be assessed if the customer accepts the operator's offer to connect the call.

With regard to Casual Billing, MCI WorldCom has agreed to significantly modify its practices by limiting the opportunity for pre-subscribed customers to incur casual rates. Specifically, MCI WorldCom has generally agreed not to remove a customer's billing information from its records until it receives notice from the customer's local exchange carrier (LEC) that the customer has cancelled her account. This will prevent a customer from incurring MCI WorldCom's higher casual rates because MCI WorldCom will retain the customer's billing information until the time that the customer's preferred inter-exchange carrier has been switched by the LEC.

MCI WorldCom will also make a voluntary contribution to the U.S. Treasury of $100,000.

Dial-Around services allow long-distance customers to bypass their preferred inter-exchange carrier by dialing a seven digit Carrier Identification Code to gain access to the telecommunications service of another carrier. Casual Billing occurs when customers who are pre-subscribed to an inter-exchange carrier (IXC) are billed higher rates after their account information is removed from their IXC's billing system. The Consent Decree adopted by the Bureau resolves ongoing investigations into MCI WorldCom's marketing and advertising of Dial-Around services as well as MCI WorldCom's Casual Billing practices. No determination is made as to whether or not MCI WorldCom's behavior in these areas constituted unjust or unreasonable practices under Section 201(b) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended.
File No. E. 99-04

Telecommunications Consumer Division Contact: Lynn Vermillera at (202) 418-7120 Enforcement Bureau Media Contact: John Winston at (202) 418-7450