WSR 07-10-017

PERMANENT RULES

UTILITIES AND TRANSPORTATION

COMMISSION

[ Docket UT-060676, General Order R-540 -- Filed April 20, 2007, 2:57 p.m. , effective May 21, 2007 ]

In the matter of amending, adopting, and repealing rules relating to chapters 480-80, 480-120, and 480-121 WAC, relating to eliminating the requirement that telecommunications companies file price lists.


ORDER CORRECTING TEXT OF WAC 480-120-161 (4)(e) and WAC 480-120-266 SUBMITTED FOR ADOPTION

1 On March 27, 2007, the Washington utilities and transportation commission (commission) filed with the code reviser an order amending and adopting rules permanently in certain sections of chapters 480-80, 480-120 and 480-121 WAC, relating to eliminating the requirement in rules that telecommunications companies file price lists to implement statutory changes. The commission took this action to revise rules consistent with changes to RCW 80.36.010, 80.36.110, 80.36.320, 80.36.330 and the enactment of RCW 80.36.333 and 80.36.338 during the 2006 legislative session, and pursuant to the commission's authority to adopt rules under RCW 80.01.040 and chapter 80.04 RCW. The order is filed at WSR 07-08-027. The effective date for the amendment and adoption of the rules is May 21, 2007.

2 Recently, the commission learned that an intended deletion of a phrase from subsection (4)(e) of WAC 480-120-161 as published at WSR 07-08-027, was erroneously included in the rule submitted for adoption. The phrase that should have been deleted from subsection (4)(e) of WAC 480-120-161 is set out below in italics:

WAC 480-120-161 Form of bills.

(4) Bill organization....

(e) The telephone bill must include the internet address (uniform resource locator) of the web site containing the service provider's tariff pursuant to WAC 480-120-193 (Posting of tariffs for public inspection and review). This requirement may be satisfied by including the address of a web site other than that of the telecommunications company itself, if the web site provides access to the tariff or information about competitively classified services that applies to the service being billed.

3 In addition, the commission also learned that a subsection intended to be included as subsection (2) of WAC 480-120-266 was inadvertently omitted from the rule submitted for adoption. The language that should have been included as subsection (2) of WAC 480-120-266 is set out below in italics:

WAC 480-120-266 Information about telecommunications services provided pursuant to competitive classification. (1) Rates, terms and conditions for telecommunications services offered pursuant to competitive classification must conform to all applicable laws, rules, and orders.

(a) The commission does not review or approve rates, terms and conditions of services offered pursuant to competitive classification.

(b) The commission will, when appropriate, investigate or complain against a rate, term or condition provided pursuant to competitive classification.

(c) If the commission determines that a rate, term or condition for service offered pursuant to competitive classification is ambiguous, there is a rebuttable presumption that the ambiguity should be construed in the favor of the customer unless the rate, term or condition was not proposed by the company.

(2) Following an inquiry or complaint from the public concerning rates, terms and conditions for competitive telecommunications services, a carrier shall specify where to obtain pertinent information, and how to contact the commission.

(3) The rates, charges, and prices of services classified as competitive under RCW 80.36.330 must cover the cost of providing the service. Costs must be determined using a long-run incremental cost analysis, including as part of the incremental cost, the price charged by the offering company to other telecommunications companies for any essential function used to provide the service, or any other commission-approved cost method.

4 Failure to delete the phrase, or information about competitively classified services, from WAC 480-120-161 (4)(e), and to include the language in WAC 480-120-266(2), above, submitted to the code reviser with the adoption order constitute an oversight. Accordingly the commission enters this order to correct the rules by deleting the phrase from WAC 480-120-161 (4)(e) and adding the language in subsection (2) of WAC 480-120-266. A copy of the corrected rules are shown below as Appendix A.

DATED at Olympia, Washington, April 20, 2007.

Washington utilities and transportation commission

Mark H. Sidran, Chairman

Patrick J. Oshie, Commissioner

Philip B. Jones, Commissioner

Appendix A
AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending Docket No. UT 040015, General Order No. R-516, filed 1/10/05, effective 2/10/05)

WAC 480-120-161   Form of bills.   (1) Bill frequency. Companies must offer customers, at a minimum, the opportunity to receive billings on a monthly interval, unless subsection (11) of this section applies.

(2) Length of time for payment of a bill. Bill due dates must reflect a date which at a minimum allows a customer fifteen days from the date of mailing for payment.

(a) Upon showing of good cause, a customer may request and the company must allow the customer to pay by a date that is not the normally designated payment date on their bill. Good cause may include, but not be limited to, adjustment of the billing cycle to parallel receipt of income.

(i) A company may not assess late payment fees for the period between the regularly scheduled due date and the customer-chosen due date so long as the customer makes payment in full by the customer-chosen due date.

(ii) A company may refuse to establish a preferred payment date that would extend the payment date beyond the next normally scheduled payment or due date.

(b) If a company is delayed in billing a customer, the company must offer arrangements upon customer request or upon indication that a payment arrangement is necessary, that are equal to the length of time the bill is delayed beyond the regularly scheduled billing interval (e.g., if the bill includes two months delayed charges, the customer must be allowed to pay the charges over two months).

Companies may not charge a customer late payment fees on the delayed charges during the extended payment period.

(3) Form of bill. With the consent of the customer, a company may provide regular billings in electronic form if the bill meets all the requirements of this rule. The company must maintain a record of the customer's request, and the customer may change from electronic to printed billing upon request.

(4) Bill organization. Telephone bills must be clearly organized, and must comply with the following requirements:

(a) Bills may only include charges for services that have been requested by the customer or other individuals authorized to request such services on behalf of the customer, and that have been provided by the company;

(b) The name of the service provider associated with each charge must be clearly and conspicuously identified on the telephone bill;

(c) Where charges for two or more companies appear on the same telephone bill, the charges must be separated by service provider;

(d) The telephone bill must clearly and conspicuously identify any change in service provider, including identification of charges from any new service provider; and

(e) The telephone bill must include the internet address (uniform resource locator) of the web site containing the service provider's tariff ((or price list, if the service provider is a telecommunications company required to publish its tariff or price list on a web site)) pursuant to WAC ((480-80-206(2) (Price list availability to customers) or WAC 480-120-193 (Posting of tariffs for public inspection and review))) 480-120-193 (Posting of tariffs for public inspection and review). This requirement may be satisfied by including the address of a web site other than that of the telecommunications company itself, if the web site provides access to the tariff or ((price list)) that applies to the service being billed.

For purposes of this subsection, "new service provider" means a service provider that did not bill the customer for service during the service provider's last billing cycle. This definition includes only providers that have continuing relationships with the customer that will result in periodic charges on the customer's bill, unless the service is subsequently canceled.

For purposes of this subsection, "clearly and conspicuously" means notice that would be apparent to a reasonable customer.

(5) Descriptions of billed charges.

(a) The bill must include a brief, clear, nonmisleading, plain language description of each service for which a charge is included. The bill must be sufficiently clear in presentation and specific enough in content so that the customer can determine that the billed charges accurately reflect the service actually requested and received, including individual toll calls and services charged on a per-occurrence basis.

(b) The bill must identify and set out separately, as a component of the charges for the specific service, any access or other charges imposed by order of or at the direction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

(c) The bill must clearly delineate the amount or the percentage rate and basis of any tax assessed by a local jurisdiction.

(6) Charges for which service can be discontinued. Where a bill contains charges for basic service, in addition to other charges, the bill must distinguish between charges for which nonpayment will result in loss of basic service. The bill must include telephone numbers by which customers may inquire or dispute any charges on the bill. A company may list a toll-free number for a billing agent, clearinghouse, or other third party, provided such party possesses sufficient information to answer questions concerning the customer's account and is fully authorized to resolve the customer's complaints on the company's behalf. Where the customer does not receive a paper copy of the telephone bill, but instead accesses that bill only by e-mail or internet, the company may comply with this requirement by providing on the bill an e-mail or web site address. Each company must make a business address available upon request from a customer.

(7) Itemized statement. A company must provide an itemized statement of all charges when requested by a customer, including, but not limited to:

(a) Rates for individual services;

(b) Calculations of time or distance charges for calls, and calculations of any credit or other account adjustment; and

(c) When itemizing the charges of information providers, the name, address, telephone number, and toll-free number, if any, of the providers.

(8) Methods of payment.

(a) Companies must, at a minimum, allow the following methods of payment: Cash, certified funds (e.g., cashier check or money order), and personal checks.

(b) Upon written notice to a customer, companies may refuse to accept personal checks when that customer has tendered two or more nonsufficient-funds checks within the last twelve months.

(9) Billing companies. A company may bill regulated telecommunications charges only for companies properly registered to provide service within the state of Washington or for billing agents. The company must, in its contractual relationship with the billing agent, require the billing agent to certify that it will submit charges only on behalf of properly registered companies; and that it will, upon request of the company, provide a current list of all companies for which it bills, including the name and telephone number of each company. The company must provide a copy of this list to the commission for its review upon request.

(10) Crediting customer payments. Unless otherwise specified by the customer, payments that are less than the total bill balance must be credited first to basic service, with any remainder credited to any other charges on the bill.

For purposes of this subsection, basic service includes associated fees and surcharges such as FCC access charges. Basic service does not include ancillary services such as caller identification and custom calling features.

(11) Exemptions from this rule. Prepaid calling card services (PPCS) are exempt from subsections (1) through (10) of this section.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 80.01.040 and 80.04.160. 05-03-031 (Docket No. UT 040015, General Order No. R-516), 480-120-161, filed 1/10/05, effective 2/10/05; 03-01-065 (Docket No. UT-990146, General Order No. R-507), 480-120-161, filed 12/12/02, effective 7/1/03.]

Reviser's note: The typographical error in the above section occurred in the copy filed by the agency and appears in the Register pursuant to the requirements of RCW 34.08.040.
NEW SECTION
WAC 480-120-266   Information about telecommunications services provided pursuant to competitive classification.   (1) Rates, terms and conditions for telecommunications services offered pursuant to competitive classification must conform to all applicable laws, rules, and orders.

(a) The commission does not review or approve rates, terms and conditions of services offered pursuant to competitive classification.

(b) The commission will, when appropriate, investigate or complain against a rate, term or condition provided pursuant to competitive classification.

(c) If the commission determines that a rate, term or condition for service offered pursuant to competitive classification is ambiguous, there is a rebuttable presumption that the ambiguity should be construed in the favor of the customer unless the rate, term or condition was not proposed by the company.

(2) Following an inquiry or complaint from the public concerning rates, terms and conditions for competitive telecommunications services, a carrier shall specify where to obtain pertinent information, and how to contact the commission.

(3) The rates, charges, and prices of services classified as competitive under RCW 80.36.330 must cover the cost of providing the service. Costs must be determined using a long-run incremental cost analysis, including as part of the incremental cost, the price charged by the offering company to other telecommunications companies for any essential function used to provide the service, or any other commission-approved cost method.

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Washington State Code Reviser's Office