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Released: July 29, 2011

Federal Communications Commission

DA 11-1288

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)

Comcast
)
IC No. 11-S3051009
)
Complaint Regarding
)
Unauthorized Change of
)
Subscriber's Telecommunications Carrier
)

ORDER

Adopted: July 28, 2011

Released: July 29, 2011

By the Deputy Chief, Consumer Policy Division, Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau:
1.
In this Order, we consider the complaint1 alleging that Comcast changed
Complainant's telecommunications service provider without obtaining authorization and
verification from Complainant in violation of the Commission's rules.2 We conclude that
Comcast's actions did result in an unauthorized change in Complainant's telecommunications
service provider and we grant Complainant's complaint.
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
Informal Complaint No. IC 11-S3051009, filed April 1, 2011.
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, MCI WorldCom v. FCC, No. 99-1125 (D.C. Cir. May 18, 1999); First Order
on Reconsideration, 15 FCC Rcd 8158 (2000); stay lifted, MCI 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 Carrier
s, 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 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).

Federal Communications Commission

DA 11-1288

"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 authorization; (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 Complainant's complaint on April 1, 2011, alleging that
Complainant's telecommunications service provider had been changed to Comcast without
Complainant's authorization. Pursuant to Sections 1.719 and 64.1150 of our rules,11 we notified


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.
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).
2

Federal Communications Commission

DA 11-1288

Comcast of the complaint and Comcast responded on April 21, 2011.12 Comcast admits that a
Comcast representative erroneously entered Complainant's telephone number when placing an
initial request for service for another new Comcast customer. We find that Comcast has failed to
produce clear and convincing evidence that Complainant authorized a carrier change.13
Therefore, we find that Comcast's actions resulted in an unauthorized change in Complainant's
telecommunications service provider and we discuss Comcast's liability below.14
5.
Comcast must remove all charges incurred for service provided to Complainant
for the first thirty days after the alleged unauthorized change in accordance with the
Commission's liability rules.15 We have determined that Complainant is entitled to absolution
for the charges incurred during the first thirty days after the unauthorized change occurred and
that neither Complainant's authorized carrier nor Comcast may pursue any collection against
Complainant for those charges.16 Any charges imposed by Comcast on the subscriber for service
provided after this 30-day period shall be paid by the subscriber to their authorized carrier at the
rates the subscriber was paying to their authorized carrier 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 complaint filed against
Comcast 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), Complainant is entitled to absolution for the
charges incurred during the first thirty days after the unauthorized change occurred and neither
Complainant's authorized carrier nor Comcast may pursue any collection against Complainant
for those charges.


12
Comcast's Response to Informal Complaint No. IC 11-S3051009, received April 21, 2011.
13
See 47 C.F.R. 64.1150(d).
14
If Complainant is unsatisfied with the resolution of this complaint, 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
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

Federal Communications Commission

DA 11-1288

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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