Cagey Consumer[13k]

For Immediate Release July 8, 2001
For more information, contact Eli Mantel, +1 650-493-7228

Qwest Communcations Re-Inducted into Hall of Shame

Customers Given No Notice of 590% Rate Increase

Qwest Communications was only the second company ever to be inducted into the Cagey Consumer Hall of Shame. That happened in August 1997, when Qwest advertised its dial-around long distance service at a rate of 10¢ a minute, but buried the fact that this rate only applied on evenings and weekends and was subject to a per-call surcharge in a footnote on the back page of the brochure. Now, Qwest is the first company ever to be re-inducted into the Cagey Consumer Hall of Shame.

They've earned the honor this time by subjecting customers to an increase in their calling card rates from 10¢ a minute to 69¢ a minute, without providing customers with any advanced notice of the rate increase.

Unannounced long distance rate changes have technically been legal, because such rates are filed with the FCC or the state public utilities commission. But a rate change of this size is unusual. Combined with the failure to notify customers, the Cagey Consumer considers this action to be unconscionable.

New rules announced by the FCC in February will end the "notice by tariff" procedure in August, so this rate change sneaked in under the wire. The effectiveness of the new rules has already been questioned, as some long distance carriers indicate they will offer only "notice by web posting". As a result, many customers will not become aware of rate changes until they receive bills reflecting the higher rates.

The editor and publisher of Cagey Consumer is Eli Mantel, a computer systems analyst in Palo Alto, California.
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