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News Release
Commission Helps Eugene Business Resolve Billing Problem
 
March 4, 2003 (2003 - 004)
 
Contacts: Roy Hemmingway, Chairman, 503 378-6611; Joan H. Smith, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Lee Beyer, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Bob Valdez, Public Information Officer, 503 378-8962
 
Salem, OR – Imagine getting charged for a service you no longer use but continue to get billed for month after month. That’s what a Eugene-based business experienced until they turned to the Oregon Public Utility Commission.
 
Late last year, Rainbow Optics noticed it had been paying a bill from Qwest Communications dating back to September of 2001 even though the company had switched to another phone company the previous month. Rainbow Optics tried unsuccessfully to convince Qwest it was no longer using Qwest phone lines and to stop billing them.
 
The company decided to stop paying the disputed bill and filed a complaint with the Oregon Public Utility Commission in Salem.
 
The Commission’s Consumer Services Division looked into the matter and on four separate occasions contacted Qwest. Each time the company said the customer was not being improperly billed even though Rainbow no longer used Qwest for its phone calls.
 
In January of 2003, Qwest determined Rainbow had been unfairly billed and said it would issue a credit for nearly $15,000. Since Rainbow’s monthly bill for advertising in the Qwest Dex phone book was only $300 a month, it would have taken years to use up the credit. Instead Qwest opted to send the company a check reimbursing it for the amount it should not have been charged.
 
"Fighting for customers’ interest is why the PUC exists," says Commissioner Lee Beyer. "This is the kind of thing our staff is trained to deal with, and in this case, we got a big win for the customer."
 
The Commission always encourages customers who have billing problems to first try working it out with the company. Then, if that doesn’t work to their satisfaction, to contact the Commission.
 
The Commission’s toll-free consumer complaint number is 1-800-522-2404.
 
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