Consumers to Protest Phone Company Cutbacks

Consumers will protest planned cutbacks in phone service at Public Participation Hearings being held by the CPUC because all customers are entitled to a basic service that includes dependable 911 access, free directory assistance and choice of long distance provider.

For Immediate Release from TURN, The Utility Reform Network

Consumers will protest planned cutbacks in phone service at Public Participation Hearings being held by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in Sacramento on March 9. The hearings are being held in order to give phone customers an opportunity to voice their opinions on a phone-company sponsored proposal to cut back on the services included in basic phone rates.

The CPUC has already given the phone companies carte blanche to raise rates. Now they want to add insult to injury by forcing consumers to accept reduced services at higher rates.

Proposed downgrades include:

  • Adding a new fixed fee or charge to all monthly home phone bills.
  • Reducing standards for reaching local 911 emergency services.
  • Eliminating the right of some customers to choose their long distance company.
  • Higher charges for calling 411 directory assistance.

“All customers are entitled to a basic service that includes dependable 911 access, free directory assistance and choice of long distance provider,” said TURN executive director Mark Toney. Toney said the fixed charge is something TURN will oppose tooth and nail. “The only justification for this charge is phone company greed,” he said. “With profits in the billions, AT&T, Verizon and the other companies have no reason to cut back on services, especially after hitting consumers with huge rate hikes.”

TURN representatives and allies will testify at the hearings, which will be held at 2 pm and 7 pm at the Mack Powell Auditorium, 2003 Howe Avenue, Sacramento.