Denver, April 27, 2001 ? Qwest Communications International Inc. today announced a settlement with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Consumer Protection over slamming complaints and reiterated Qwest?s hard-line program aimed at detecting and eliminating slamming.
Although the commission makes no finding of wrongdoing by Qwest, the settlement resolves all prior slamming complaints and calls for Qwest to make a voluntary payment of $350,000. The majority of complaints were logged more than a year ago, before Qwest initiated its aggressive anti-slamming campaign last year.
?This agreement allows us to put this unfortunate situation behind us and look forward to continuing to serve our customers in Pennsylvania. We have made it clear that we have zero tolerance for slamming and are continually evaluating and enhancing our anti-slamming efforts,? said Mark Pitchford, senior vice president of customer care for Qwest. ?We take this issue very seriously and have successfully decreased the incidents of slamming nationwide. In fact, Qwest?s anti-slamming policy represents a model for others in the industry to combat slamming.?
Qwest reiterated its commitment to monitoring agents, imposing significant financial penalties for violations and assuring the immediate termination of agents who participate in sales fraud. Highlights of the policy include:
- Third-party verification of sales. For a period of three years, Qwest will verify through an independent third party all consumer sales resulting from face-to-face marketing to ensure accuracy.
- Nationwide consumer education campaign. Qwest devised and implemented a nationwide campaign to inform consumers in ethnic communities how to protect themselves against slamming and of their rights under the Federal Communications Commission?s rules in the event their carrier is switched without authorization.
- Significant financial penalties. Contracts with sales agents are now being modified to increase the financial penalty associated with an occurrence of slamming. Qwest will modify its commission policies to remove any incentive to submit improper orders and will require its independent sales agents to return at least 150 percent of the revenues they received from any slammed account.
- Zero-Tolerance Review Policy. Qwest requires sales representatives to reaffirm every six months their agreement to follow company policies against sales fraud. If any individual is discovered to have forged a customer?s signature, Qwest requires the offending individual be terminated immediately.
- Independent Audit Program. Qwest engages an independent auditor to conduct annual examinations of the company?s anti-slamming reporting processes, tracking mechanisms and all enforcement procedures to help determine areas for regular improvement.
In 1999, Qwest initiated a hard-line anti-slamming policy directed at detecting and eliminating slamming. Since the policy?s enactment, Qwest has terminated more than 25 sales agents and/or telemarketing agencies that filed false orders. In addition, slamming allegations against Qwest are down more than 80 percent from last year.
Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q) is a leader in reliable, scalable and secure broadband Internet-based data, voice and image communications for businesses and consumers. The Qwest Macro Capacity® Fiber Network, designed with the newest optical networking equipment for speed and efficiency, spans more than 106,000 miles globally. For more information, please visit the Qwest web site at www.qwest.com.
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