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Companies provide contest entry forms at conventions, fairs, fast food restaurants quick stop convenience stores, beauty salons, and health clubs. The firm listed on the entry form is not usually recognized as a long distance carrier company. In most cases, by completing the entry, consumers are unaware they are authorizing a switch of their long distance carrier.
A caller asks the consumer about long distance service and calling habits. The caller then states he or she has information about a new promotion (maybe lower rates). Different companies use a variety of verbal service descriptions to conceal the fact that by simply agreeing to receive information in the mail, the consumer is authorizing or accepting a switch of long distance carriers.
Some companies send checks in the mail. These checks are sent to consumers by mail in amounts of $5 to $10. When consumers endorse these checks, they fail to read the fine print by the endorsement line that will switch their long distance carrier immediately upon receipt of the canceled check.
Selling of names:
Marketing companies provide names and telephone numbers to long distance carrier companies. The carriers then arrange for the switch by notifying local phone companies that these customers have switched. The local phone companies very rarely verify this with their customers. The switch is noticed only if consumers remember to review their phone bill.
If consumer is slammed:
Immediately notify any telephone company that handles billing for local and long distance service. Then call original long distance carrier to be switched back to their service. Consumer may wish to file a written complaint with the Public Utilities Commission.
Some local phone companies have "Pick Protection Restriction," a service that is available to their consumers.
Tips to consumers:
Scrutinize fine print on any free trip, check, or award. Be wary if the name of the company sponsoring the item is unfamiliar. Consumers should pay attention to monthly phone bills and make sure the bill specifies the selected long distance carrier.
Consumers should state or precisely clarify that they are not authorizing a switch of a long distance carrier on a telephone solicitation even if they are willing to accept information from the caller.
To File complaints:
California Public Utilities Commission
Common Carries Complaints
505 Van Ness Avenue, Room 2250
San Francisco, CA 94102
The Commission will accept complaints from California residents concerning slamming. Complaints must be in writing.
For more information write or call:
Federal Communications Commission
Common Carrier Bureau
445 12th Street, South West
Washington, DC 20554
(888) 225-5322 (automated)
The FCC accepts interstate and foreign communication complaints only. The commission offers information and a publication about slamming.
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