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News Release
Commission Levies $255,000 Service Quality Penalty on Qwest
March 21, 2002 - (2002 - 006)
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 – Today the Oregon Public Utility Commission imposed a $255,000 penalty against Qwest Communications for failing to meet certain service quality standards in 2001.
The fines accrued in 2001 for failing to meet business office access standards, which require the company to answer nonrepair customer calls within 20 seconds 75 percent of the time, and for network blockage.
"Despite Qwest’s current financial challenges the Commission intends to remain vigilant that service quality does not slip," Commission Chairman Roy Hemmingway said. "Qwest deserves credit for significant improvement in its service quality but there were still violations of PUC standards in 2001."
After considering several options, the Commission decided to earmark the penalty for targeted investments to improve service quality. The penalty will be used to install up to 20 remote testing units. PUC staff says the testing units help ensure the right type of technician is dispatched and provide the technician with critical information to resolve the problem. The testing units will be targeted at wire centers based on service quality information. The units must be installed by September 30, 2002. Other options the Commission considered included a customer credit or no fine at all.
About 90 of Qwest’s digital loop carrier systems are older models and do not have remote testing capability. The money will update up to 20 of the older models.
In 2001, Qwest did meet service quality standards for held orders, orders held over 30 days, trouble report rates, trouble reports cleared and repair center access.
In 2000, the Commission levied a $725,000 penalty against Qwest. That money also went into system upgrades and replacing older analog carrier systems with digital loop carrier systems.
In other business, the Commission agreed to investigate a request from Qwest Communications to deregulate prices for its 4-1-1 directory assistance service. Oregon is one of just two states in Qwest’s 14-state service territory that still regulates directory assistance.