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News Release
 
Commission Signs Off on Qwest's Business Office Access Improvement Plan
 
 July 24, 2001 (2001-28) (UM 1026)
 
Contacts:  Roy Hemmingway, Chairman, 503 378-6611; Roger Hamilton, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Joan H. Smith, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Bob Valdez, Public Information Officer, 503 378-8962
 
Salem, OR –Today the Oregon Public Utility Commission agreed to a six-month action plan aimed at reducing waiting times for customers to speak with a "live" person at Qwest's business offices. Customers commonly call the business office for such things as new service, changing service or requesting additional lines, but reports show customers are encountering lengthy delays. Failure to meet the standards could lead to financial penalties.
 
The Commission standard requires a company representative to answer the telephone within 20 seconds, 85 percent of the time, after the customer has initially gone through the automated system.
 
The company has failed to meet the Commission's business office access standard since August of 1998. And the May 2001 Service Quality Report showed that the company had slipped even further to a low of 21 percent.
 
The memorandum-of-understanding spells out the performance timelines and specific steps the company will take to come into compliance.
 
Commissioner Joan Smith said, "This memorandum of understanding will help everybody in the next year and a half to get this straightened out."
 
If the company does not meet the Commission's 85 percent standard by December 31, 2001, each prior month with results below the standard would be considered for potential penalties.
 
Penalties could total $50,000 for each month the company fails to meet the Commission's business access office standard.
 
The agreement requires Qwest to continue to meet the standard for an additional three months beyond December 21, 2001, and maintain a high level of compliance for an additional nine months.
 
Qwest cannot fall below the 85 percent standard for more than three months during the final nine months of the 17-month term. And Qwest cannot fall below 75 percent anytime during the final nine-month period.
 
Qwest will provide monthly progress business office access reports to the PUC.
 
 
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