|May 12, 1997
Robert Pitofsky, Chairman
Dear Chairman Pitofsky:
On behalf of Consumers Union, I wish to request that we be allowed to participate in the workshop you are sponsoring on "pay-per-call" services, and to ask that you expand your current regulations under the Telephone Disclosure and Dispute Resolution Act (TDDRA)(15 U.S.C. Sec. 5701 et seq.) to cover all pay-per-call services.
We believe it is essential to expand your current 900-Number Rule to ensure that consumers receive adequate information about what they are purchasing, can block unwanted services, and will not lose their basic/essential communications services for failure to pay information services charges. Consistent with Congress' amendments to TDDRA in the 1996 Telecommunications Act (Pub. L. 104, Sec. 701, codified at U.S.C. Sec. 228), we believe it is essential that the Commission apply the 900-Number Rule to all calling prefixes/dialing platforms that can be used to evade the consumer protections Congress called for regarding 900 numbers.
For example, consumers should not receive less information about charges, be unable to block calls or face basic service cutoffs for 800 number calls, other tariffed services or calls that use other "prefixes" to offer a pay-per-call type service. In addition, the Commission's 900-Number Rule should apply to any use of "automatic number identification" from a consumer call that effectively amounts to a pay-per-call service.
Consumers Union believes the protections provided in the 900-Number Rule should be available to consumers of all audio information or entertainment services ("audiotext"). By expanding the Rule as described above, consumers' fundamental informational and contractual rights would be protected as Congress called for in TDDRA and the 1996 Telecommunications Act.
cc: Office of the Secretary
Marianne Kastriner Schwanke