Consumer Coalition Blasts Kennedy Telco Proposal

A broad coalition of consumer groups today demanded rejection of a proposal that would drastically cut back on telephone consumer protections previously approved by the California Public Utilities Commission.

For Immediate Release From The Utility Reform Network

The cell phone industry opposed the landmark Telephone Consumer Bill of Rights when it was passed in 2004, as did Governor Schwarzenegger. The Governor was able to engineer suspension of the protections with the assistance of former CPUC Commissioner and current chief of staff Susan Kennedy.

Kennedy’s parting shot to consumers was a proposal that would gut the consumer-friendly bill of rights in favor of what advocates call an "unenforceable set of vague and limited ‘rights’ that send a message to California consumers that their rights and welfare come a distant second to the interests of the telecommunications industry." Consumer groups are urging rejection of the Kennedy proposal (co-authored with CPUC President Michael Peevey) and passage of a set of basic consumer rights more closely resembling the original, including:

  • Written contracts and service confirmations with key terms identified.
  • Readable bills that clearly distinguish government-mandated charges from company-imposed fees (particularly where added on to advertised rates).
  • The right to cancel service within 30 days without penalty.

Available for comment on today’s filing are:

  • Consumer Federation of California—Richard Holober, (650) 589-3135
  • TURN, The Utility Reform Network—Christine Mailloux, (858) 558-7930
  • Disability Rights Advocates—Melissa Kasnitz, (510) 665-8644 (Disability Rights Advocates filed separate objections, but shares the concerns of the Consumer Coalition, and has also called for the Commission to reject the Kennedy Proposal).

Also joining in consumer comments protesting the proposal were:

  • CalPIRG
  • Consumers Union
  • National Consumer Law Center