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News Release
U S WEST Refund Fact Sheet
How much is the refund?
The refund will be in excess of $270 million dollars. Ninety five percent of the refund to local service customers goes to current customers and 5 percent is set aside in a special fund for former customers.
The order provides a one-time estimated credit of $118 dollars per residential line and $290 per business line. The business line credit depends on how "simple" or "complex" the telephone service is.  The refund will appear in the form of a single credit on consumers' monthly telephone bill. The refund shall be identified on the bill as "one time refund per PUC order." If the full amount of the refund is not exhausted in one billing cycle, the unused portion will carry over to the customers' next bill until exhausted.
When will customers receive their refunds?
Refunds are not likely to occur until sometime after August 1st. That's because all parties to the case have 60 days to request the Commission to reconsider the order. After that U S WEST has an additional 45 days to determine whether to accept the terms of the order and proceed. The Company gets the additional days to consider the stipulation because the Commission modified the stipulation by requiring a set aside for former customers. The company has the option to issue the refund earlier. The refund amount is growing through time, so the longer customers wait, the larger the refund will be.
Who is eligible?
Current and former business, residential and access customers of U S WEST. Consumers must be retail customers of U S WEST at least 60 days prior to the refund date. Former customers must have been a customer of U S WEST for a period of no less than 6 months between May 1996 and date of refund and no longer on the U S WEST system. The order also includes long distance providers who purchased lines from U S WEST (access customers).
How will former customers receive a refund?
Consumers must submit a claim form to U S WEST. U S WEST will publish notice of the refund for former customers once a week over a period of four weeks in 13 newspapers. In order to avoid confusion, the publication will begin after current customers of record receive their refund. It will include claim forms for customers to clip and submit. Notices probably will not be printed until September.
Refunds will be made on a "first-verified, first-served basis." Five percent of the local refund ($12 million) is set aside for former customers. Former customers will receive a check.
(The claim process will be posted on the PUC web page www.puc.state.or.us)
How long will former customers have to apply?
Three months from the date of the first official published notice instructing former customers how to apply. Any money leftover in the pool at the expiration of the three-month deadline will be spread across all current customers of record as a credit.
What about long distance providers?
Long distance providers who purchase U S WEST lines will receive cash refunds in an amount equal to 13.8 percent of the total refund ($37.6 million). The degree to which these refunds are or are not passed along to customers is up to individual companies.
Will current telephone rates be affected?
Yes. The order also provides a temporary bill credit in the amount of $63 million a year. That translates to a monthly credit of $2.47 per residential line and $5.93 per business line. The credit will be applied to bills from the date of the refund going out until the Commission sets final rates in phase two of the rate case
What did the original order seek?
In May 1997 the Commission ordered U S WEST to refund ratepayers $102 million and reduce revenues by $97 million annually.
When was the last time the PUC ordered a U S WEST refund?
The PUC ordered a U S WEST refund of $60 million in 1992.