WSR 10-10-080




[ Docket UT-100148 -- Filed May 3, 2010, 9:50 a.m. ]

Original Notice.

Preproposal statement of inquiry was filed as WSR 10-05-107.

Title of Rule and Other Identifying Information: WAC 480-120-264 Prepaid calling services.

The proposed rule would amend the existing rule regarding disclosure requirements for prepaid calling services (PPCS).

Specifically, the proposed rule, WAC 480-120-264 (5)(a)(iv), requires PPCS providers to disclose the number of minutes or the value of the service and the rates from which the minutes may be determined. Additionally, the proposed rule, subsection (5)(c), requires PPCS providers to disclose information in the language in which the service is advertised.

Furthermore, the proposed rule clarifies that required disclosures must be either on the card or its packaging and specifies that if the PPCS provider issues a card, certain information must be on the card. Otherwise, the proposed rule includes minor revisions to clarify language within the current rule.

Hearing Location(s): Commission Hearing Room 206, Second Floor, Richard Hemstad Building, 1300 South Evergreen Park Drive S.W., Olympia, WA 98504-7250, on June 28, 2010, at 1:30 p.m.

Date of Intended Adoption: June 28, 2010.

Submit Written Comments to: Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, 1300 South Evergreen Park Drive S.W., P.O. Box 47250, Olympia, WA 98504-7250, e-mail, fax (360) 586-1150, by June 7, 2010.

Assistance for Persons with Disabilities: Contact Susan Holman by June 14, 2010, TTY (360) 586-8203 or (360) 664-1243.

Purpose of the Proposal and Its Anticipated Effects, Including Any Changes in Existing Rules: The utilities and transportation commission (UTC) is responsible for protecting consumers by ensuring that investor-owned utility services (such as prepaid calling services) are available and reliable, by disclosing information to better enable consumers to make choices for competitively offered utility services. The disclosures regarding the number of minutes or value of the service as well as the requirement that disclosures be made in the language in which the service is advertised are proposed for interstate services regulated by the Federal Communications Commission. The UTC believes that the same information would be beneficial for the intrastate services under our jurisdiction. The revisions and supplemental information in the proposed rule are consistent with the UTC's mission.

Reasons Supporting Proposal: See above.

Statutory Authority for Adoption: RCW 80.01.040 and 80.04.160.

Statute Being Implemented: Not applicable.

Rule is not necessitated by federal law, federal or state court decision.

Name of Proponent: Washington utilities and transportation commission, governmental.

Name of Agency Personnel Responsible for Drafting: Tim Zawislak, 1300 South Evergreen Park Drive S.W., Olympia, WA 98504, (360) 664-1294; Implementation and Enforcement: David W. Danner, 1300 South Evergreen Park Drive S.W., Olympia, WA 98504, (360) 664-1208.

No small business economic impact statement has been prepared under chapter 19.85 RCW. With the CR-101, the UTC elicited comments from interested persons regarding the economic impact of the proposed changes. The revised rule incorporates changes proposed by interested persons and will not result in or impose more than minor costs. Because there will not be more than minor increase in costs resulting from the proposed rule changes, a small business economic impact statement is not required under RCW 19.85.030(1).

A cost-benefit analysis is not required under RCW 34.05.328. The commission is not an agency to which RCW 34.05.328 applies. The proposed rule is not a significant legislative rule of the sort referenced in RCW 34.05.328(5).

May 3, 2010

David W. Danner

Executive Director and Secretary


AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending Docket UT-060676, General Order R-540, filed 3/27/07, effective 4/27/07)

WAC 480-120-264   Prepaid calling services.   (1) For the purposes of this section, prepaid calling services (PPCS) means any transaction in which a customer pays for service prior to use and applies only to those services where the number of available minutes decreases as the customer uses the service. Prepaid calling services do not include flat-rated basic local service that is billed in advance of use.

(a) PPCS may require the use of an access number or authorization code.

(b) This section excludes credit cards and cash equivalent cards. Services provided at pay telephones using these cards are regulated under the provisions of WAC 480-120-263 (Pay phone service providers (PSPs)).

(2) PPCS providers must provide customers a without-charge telephone number staffed by personnel capable of:

(a) Responding to technical problems or questions related to their service twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week;

(b) Responding to general account-related questions during regular business hours; and

(c) Providing the commission's toll-free number and address to dissatisfied customers as required by WAC 480-120-165 (Customer complaints).

(3) Billing requirements for PPCS.

(a) A PPCS provider may charge only for the actual time a circuit is open for conversation. The tariff and presale document must define billing increments. The provider must not round up the length of conversation time for less than a full billing increment beyond that full increment.

(i) If a PPCS provider uses an increment based on a time measurement, the increment must not exceed one minute.

(ii) If a PPCS provider bills usage in "unit" measurements, it must clearly define units using both equivalent dollar amounts and time measurement. Unit billing increments cannot exceed the equivalent one minute rate.

(b) At the customer's request, a PPCS provider may add additional time to an existing account in exchange for an additional payment at a rate not to exceed those on file on tariff with the commission or at rates, terms and conditions pursuant to competitive classification. The PPCS provider must inform the customer of the new rates at the time of the recharge request.

(4) PPCS providers must maintain the following call-data for a minimum of twenty-four months:

(a) Dialing and signaling information that identifies the inbound access number called or the access identifier;

(b) The number of the originating phone when the information is passed to the PPCS provider;

(c) The date and time the call was originated;

(d) The duration or termination time of the call;

(e) The called number; and

(f) The personal identification number (PIN), or account number.

(5) Disclosure requirements - Prepaid calling services.

(a) A PPCS provider must disclose, prior to the sale, the following information:

(i) The PPCS provider's name as registered with the commission;

(ii) The "doing business as" name as registered with the commission, if applicable;

(iii) The maximum charge per billing increment. A PPCS provider charging varying rates for intrastate ((and)), interstate, and international calls must disclose all applicable rates;

(iv) The number of minutes or the value of the service and the rates from which the minutes may be determined;

(v) Charges for all services, including any applicable surcharges, fees, or taxes, and the method of application;

(((v))) (vi) Expiration date, if applicable. If a ((card)) service expires after a set period of time from activation, the PPCS provider must specify the expiration date ((on)) of the ((card)) service. If an expiration date is not disclosed ((on)), the ((card it)) service will be considered unexpired indefinitely; and

(((vi))) (vii) Recharge policy, if applicable. If a PPCS provider does not disclose the expiration date at the time service is recharged, the service will be considered unexpired indefinitely.

(b) A PPCS provider must disclose, at the time of purchase, the following information:

(i) The without-charge telephone number(s) a customer may use to resolve technical problems, service-related questions, and general account-related questions; and

(ii) Authorization code, if required, to access the service or, if applicable, the without-charge telephone number used to establish access capability.

(c) The information required to be disclosed in this subsection must be in the language in which the service is advertised.

(d) If the PPCS provider issues a card, all information contained in this subsection must be disclosed on the card or its packaging. Disclosures required in (a)(i) and (vi), (b)(i) and (ii) of this subsection must be on the card.

(e) If the PPCS provider is not the entity that packages the services for sale to the public, it must require the company that does so, through a written agreement, to comply with the disclosure requirements of this section.

(6) Time of use disclosure requirements. The PPCS provider must:

(a) Announce at the beginning of each call the time remaining on the prepaid account or prepaid calling card; and

(b) Announce the time remaining at least one minute before the prepaid account balance is depleted.

(7) When a PPCS provider has failed to provide service at rates disclosed prior to the sale or quoted at the time an account is recharged, or the PPCS provider has failed to meet performance standards, it must provide refunds for any unused service or provide equivalent service credit when requested by a customer. Refunds or credits must equal the value remaining on the prepaid calling account. The customer may choose either the refund or equivalent service credit option.

(8) Performance standards for prepaid calling services. Each PPCS provider must ensure that:

(a) Customers can complete a minimum of ninety-eight percent of all call attempts to the called party's number. The PPCS provider will consider any busy signals or unanswered calls as completed calls.

(b) Customers can complete a minimum of ninety-eight percent of all call attempts to the PPCS provider. The PPCS provider will not consider any busy signals or unanswered calls as completed calls.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 80.36.010, 80.36.110, 80.36.320, 80.36.330, 80.36.333, 80.36.338, 80.01.040 and 80.04.160. 07-08-027 (Docket UT-060676, General Order R-540), 480-120-264, filed 3/27/07, effective 4/27/07. Statutory Authority: RCW 80.01.040, 80.04.160, 81.04.160, and 34.05.353. 03-22-046 (Docket No. A-030832, General Order No. R-509), 480-120-264, filed 10/29/03, effective 11/29/03. Statutory Authority: RCW 80.01.040 and 80.04.160. 02-11-080 (General Order No. R-499, Docket No. UT-991922), 480-120-264, filed 5/14/02, effective 6/17/02.]

Washington State Code Reviser's Office