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CenturyLink Slam Order

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Released: May 23, 2014
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Federal Communications Commission

DA 14-709

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of

)

)

CenturyLink

)

IC No. 13-S003572

)

13-S003576

Complaints Regarding

)

13-S003594

Unauthorized Change of

)

13-S003601

Subscriber’s Telecommunications Carrier

)

13-S3605146

)

13-S3636414

)

13-S3643502

ORDER

Adopted: May 22, 2014

Released: May 23, 2014

By the Deputy Chief, Consumer Policy Division, Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau:

1.

In this Order, we consider the complaints filed by Complainants’1 alleging that

CenturyLink changed Complainants’ telecommunications service providers without obtaining

authorization and verification from Complainant in violation of the Commission’s rules.2

We

conclude that CenturyLink’s actions did result in unauthorized changes in Complainants’

telecommunications service provider and we grant Complainants’ complaints.

2.

In December 1998, the Commission released the Section 258 Order in which it

adopted rules to implement Section 258 of the Communications Act of 1934 (Act), as amended

by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (1996 Act).3 Section 258 prohibits the practice of

1

See Appendix.

2

See 47 C.F.R. §§ 64.1100 – 64.1190.

3

47 U.S.C. § 258(a); Telecommunications Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-104, 110 Stat. 56 (1996);

Implementation of the Subscriber Carrier Selection Changes Provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996;

Policies and Rules Concerning Unauthorized Changes of Consumers’ Long Distance Carriers, CC Docket No.

94-129, Second Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making, 14 FCC Rcd 1508 (1998)

(Section 258 Order), stayed in part, CenturyTel WorldCom v. FCC, No. 99-1125 (D.C. Cir. May 18, 1999); First

Order on Reconsideration, 15 FCC Rcd 8158 (2000); stay lifted, CenturyTel WorldCom v. FCC, No. 99-1125

(D.C. Cir. June 27, 2000); Third Report and Order and Second Order on Reconsideration, 15 FCC Rcd 15996

(2000), Errata, DA No. 00-2163 (rel. Sept. 25, 2000), Erratum, DA No. 00-2192 (rel. Oct. 4, 2000), Order, FCC

01-67 (rel. Feb. 22, 2001); Third Order on Reconsideration and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making,

18 FCC Rcd 5099 (2003); Order, 18 FCC Rcd 10997 (2003); Fourth Report and Order, 23 FCC Rcd 493 (2008).

Prior to the adoption of Section 258, the Commission had taken various steps to address the slamming problem.

See, e.g., Policies and Rules Concerning Unauthorized Changes of Consumers' Long Distance Carriers, CC

Docket No. 94-129, Report and Order, 10 FCC Rcd 9560 (1995), stayed in part, 11 FCC Rcd 856 (1995); Policies

and Rules Concerning Changing Long Distance Carriers, CC Docket No. 91-64, 7 FCC Rcd 1038 (1992),

reconsideration denied, 8 FCC Rcd 3215 (1993); Investigation of Access and Divestiture Related Tariffs, CC

(continued….)

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Federal Communications Commission

DA 14-709

“slamming,” the submission or execution of an unauthorized change in a subscriber’s selection of

a provider of telephone exchange service or telephone toll service.4

In the Section 258 Order, the

Commission adopted aggressive new rules designed to take the profit out of slamming,

broadened the scope of the slamming rules to encompass all carriers, and modified its existing

requirements for the authorization and verification of preferred carrier changes. The rules

require, among other things, that a carrier receive individual subscriber consent before a carrier

change may occur.5

Pursuant to Section 258, carriers are absolutely barred from changing a

customer's preferred local or long distance carrier without first complying with one of the

Commission's verification procedures.6

Specifically, a carrier must: (1) obtain the subscriber's

written or electronically signed authorization in a format that meets the requirements of

Section 64.1130; (2) obtain confirmation from the subscriber via a toll-free number provided

exclusively for the purpose of confirming orders electronically; or (3) utilize an independent third

party to verify the subscriber's order.7

3.

The Commission also has adopted liability rules. These rules require the carrier

to absolve the subscriber where the subscriber has not paid his or her bill.

In that context, if the

subscriber has not already paid charges to the unauthorized carrier, the subscriber is absolved of

liability for charges imposed by the unauthorized carrier for service provided during the first 30

days after the unauthorized change.8

Where the subscriber has paid charges to the unauthorized

carrier, the Commission’s rules require that the unauthorized carrier pay 150% of those charges

to the authorized carrier, and the authorized carrier shall refund or credit to the subscriber 50% of

all charges paid by the subscriber to the unauthorized carrier.9 Carriers should note that our

actions in this order do not preclude the Commission from taking additional action, if warranted,

pursuant to Section 503 of the Act.10

4.

We received Complainants’ complaints alleging that Complainants’

telecommunications service providers had been changed to CenturyLink without Complainants’

(Continued from previous page)

Docket No. 83-1145, Phase I, 101 F.C.C.2d 911, 101 F.C.C.2d 935, reconsideration denied, 102 F.C.C.2d 503

(1985).

4

47 U.S.C. § 258(a).

5

See 47 C.F.R. § 64.1120.

6

47 U.S.C. § 258(a).

7

See 47 C.F.R. § 64.1120(c). Section 64.1130 details the requirements for letter of agency form

and content for written or electronically signed authorizations. 47 C.F.R. § 64.1130.

8

See 47 C.F.R. §§ 64.1140, 64.1160. Any charges imposed by the unauthorized carrier on the

subscriber for service provided after this 30-day period shall be paid by the subscriber to the authorized carrier at

the rates the subscriber was paying to the authorized carrier at the time of the unauthorized change. Id.

9

See 47 C.F.R. §§ 64.1140, 64.1170.

10

See 47 U.S.C. § 503.

2

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Federal Communications Commission

DA 14-709

authorization. Pursuant to Sections 1.719 and 64.1150 of our rules,11 we notified CenturyLink of

each complaint and CenturyLink responded.12

CenturyLink has acknowledged the switch named

in each complaint was done in error. We find that CenturyLink has failed to produce clear and

convincing evidence that Complainants authorized a carrier change.13

Therefore, we find that

CenturyLink’s actions resulted in an unauthorized change in Complainant’s telecommunications

service provider and we discuss CenturyLink’s liability below.14

5.

CenturyLink must remove all charges incurred for service provided to

Complainants for the first thirty days after the alleged unauthorized changes in accordance with

the Commission’s liability rules.15

We have determined that Complainants are entitled to

absolution for the charges incurred during the first thirty days after the unauthorized change

occurred and that neither Complainants’ authorized carrier nor CenturyLink may pursue any

collection against Complainants for those charges.16

Any charges imposed by CenturyLink on

the subscriber for service provided after this 30-day period shall be paid by the subscribers to

their authorized carriers at the rates the subscribers was paying to their authorized carriers at the

time of the unauthorized change.17

6.

Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to Section 258 of the

Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. § 258, and Sections 0.141, 0.361 and

1.719 of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.141, 0.361, 1.719, the complaints filed against

CenturyLink IS GRANTED.

7.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant to Section 64.1170(d) of the

Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. § 64.1170(d), Complainants are entitled to absolution for the

charges incurred during the first thirty days after the unauthorized change occurred and neither

Complainants’ authorized carriers nor CenturyLink may pursue any collection against

Complainants for those charges.

11

47 C.F.R. § 1.719 (Commission procedure for informal complaints filed pursuant to Section 258

of the Act); 47 C.F.R. § 64.1150 (procedures for resolution of unauthorized changes in preferred carrier).

12

See Appendix.

13

See 47 C.F.R. § 64.1150(d).

14

If any Complainant is unsatisfied with the resolution of this complaint, such Complainant may

file a formal complaint with the Commission pursuant to Section 1.721 of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. §

1.721. Such filing will be deemed to relate back to the filing date of Complainant’s informal complaint so long as

the formal complaint is filed within 45 days from the date this order is mailed or delivered electronically to such

Complainant. See 47 C.F.R. § 1.719.

15

See 47 C.F.R. § 64.1160(b).

16

See 47 C.F.R. § 64.1160(d).

17

See 47 C.F.R. §§ 64.1140, 64.1160.

3

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Federal Communications Commission

DA 14-709

8.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that this Order is effective upon release.

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

Nancy A. Stevenson, Deputy Chief

Consumer Policy Division

Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau

4

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Federal Communications Commission

DA 14-709

APPENDIX

INFORMAL

DATE OF

DATE OF

COMPLAINT

COMPLAINT

RESPONSE

NUMBER

13-S003572

February 7, 2013

February 26, 2013

13-S003576

February 8, 2013

March 1, 2013

13-S003594

March 10, 2013

April 8, 2013

13-S003601

March 18, 2013

December 30, 2013

13-S3605146

February 20, 2013

April 10, 2013

13-S3636414

March 27, 2013

April 30, 2013

13-S3643502

April 8, 2013

April 30, 2013

5

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