Cagey Consumer

How to File a Complaint with the FCC Common Carrier Bureau

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Here's how to file complaints regarding telephone or other telecommunication common carrier services


Here's how to file complaints regarding telephone or other telecommunication common carrier services except for wireless common carrier services See end of this file for information regarding filing complaints for those services

Q: What should I do when I have a complaint?
A: If you have a problem with a telephone company or other company providing these services you should first try to resolve your complaint with the company providing the service or the company billing for the service If you are unsuccessful in resolving the problem then you should file a complaint with the proper regulatory agency

Q: Do all complaints about these services come to the FCC?
A: complaints about rates or services provided within a state intra state should be addressed to your state public utility commission You can contact either your local or state consumer office to obtain the phone number and address for your state public utility commission This information also may be listed in the government section of your telephone directory

Complaints regarding services provided from one state to another, interstate services, and foreign communications should be addressed to the FCC. Consumers may file either an informal complaint or formal complaint

The FCC established the informal complaint process to make it easier for consumers to file complaints about telecommunications common carrier services and for carriers to act promptly to satisfy complaints Informal complaints are no less important than formal complaints

Q: How do I file an informal complaint Do I need to get a form from the FCC first Is there a fee?
A: There is no special form to fill out to file an informal complaint with the FCC There is no charge You simply send a letter in your own words describing the problem to

Common Carrier Bureau
Consumer complaints
Stop Code 1600A2
Washington DC 20554
It will expedite processing if your complaint is typed or legibly printed. Your letter should include You should also state in your letter the relief that you are requesting such as a credit or refund for calls charged to your telephone bill.

If you are requesting a refund or adjustment for calls charged to your account you should include a copy of the telephone bill or bills listing the disputed charges. Please circle the charges that you are disputing on the copy of the bill you send to us

If your complaint concerns calls placed from a telephone location such as a hotel motel convenience store airport etc, you should include

It also would be helpful if you could provide the number on the telephone and the telephone vendor if identified on the telephone If you provide this information we will be able to process your complaint much faster and provide you the help you require sooner

Q: What happens to an informal complaint after it is received by the FCC?
A: All complaint letters are reviewed to ensure that the issues are within FCC's jurisdiction complaints are sent to other federal or state agencies if the issues raised are more appropriately handled by those agencies If we send a complaint to another agency the complainant will receive a copy of the referral letter

If the complaint issues are within the FCC's jurisdiction the Branch sends or serves the complaint under a cover document called a Notice of Informal Complaint on the company providing the service

The FCC serves the complaint on all companies identified in the complaint that are under the FCC's jurisdiction The company is directed to investigate the complaint and to report the results of that investigation in writing to the FCC within a prescribed time period usually 30 calendar days

Under the FCC's rules the person filing the complaint should receive a copy of the company's response at the same time that the company files the response with the FCC The FCC reviews the complaint and the company's response to ensure that the company fully addressed all of the issues and that the company's actions are consistent with relevant statutory provisions FCC rules and decisions and industry practices After this review the Branch decides what additional action if any is required

If it appears from the complaint and from the company's response that the company may not be in compliance with the law the FCC will take appropriate action After the review process is completed the Branch will send a letter to the complainant advising them that the Branch has completed its review of the complaint

Q: If I am disputing charges should I send a check for the FCC a check for the disputed amount to hold until the issue is processed?
A: No The FCC does not accept escrow checks for disputed charges However several state public utility commissions have escrow procedures for disputed charges If your complaint concerns disputed charges for calls placed within your state you should contact your state public utility commission to determine whether or not you should send an escrow check to that commission for disputed charges

Q: What can I do if I am not satisfied with the carrier's response to my complaint?
A: The Commission's rules provide that the complainant may file a formal complaint if he or she is not satisfied by a carrier's response to an informal complaint and the Commission's disposition of that complaint

Q: Are formal complaints more important than informal complaints?
A: No Informal and formal are simply terms chosen by the FCC to distinguish the procedural differences between two different complaint processes The terms are not intended to infer that formal complaints are more important than informal complaints

Q: Are there specific procedures to follow to file a formal complaint with FCC?
A: Yes Formal complaints must be filed in the manner prescribed in the Commission's rules and must show facts which establish that a violation of the Communications Act or a Commission rule policy has occurred

The facts stated in a formal complaint must be supported by relevant documentation or affidavits of sufficient specificity to develop a record which will permit the Commission to determine the facts of the case and to decide what if any remedies may be appropriate Because allegations must be developed in the complaint which are sufficient to comply with the FCC's rules and case law formal complaints generally require an attorney's assistance

Q: Does it cost any money to file a formal complaint?
A: Yes A filing fee of 140 applies to each formal complaint filed with the FCC

Q: Is it a requirement to file an informal complaint first?
A: No You may file a formal complaint with the FCC even though you did not first file an informal complaint Other inquiries about various aspects of interstate or international common carrier services should be addressed to Consumer complaints at the address listed above

Questions about how to file complaints regarding cellular telephone paging commercial mobile radio and other wireless common carrier services should be directed to

Federal Communications Commission
Wireless Telecommunications Bureau
Enforcement and Consumer Information Division
2025 M Street N W Room 8308
Washington, DC 20554
Phone Number 202 418 0569
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Comments to
Updated December 18, 1998