DENVER, November 18, 1999 ? Qwest Communications International Inc. (Nasdaq: QWST), the broadband Internet communications company, today expanded its aggressive program aimed at eliminating the practice of customer "slamming" by company agents, distributors and other third-party representatives.
?We have always had a zero-tolerance policy for slamming," said Joseph P. Nacchio, Qwest's Chairman and CEO. "To make sure we meet our goal, we are stepping up our efforts with an expanded program that significantly tightens our monitoring of agents, increases financial penalties for violations, and assures the immediate termination of agents who participate in sales fraud."
The company today alerted the FCC of its expanded program, outlining such elements as:
- Targeted third-party verification of sales. In any area where Qwest determines that in-person sales orders may be susceptible to potential slamming, the company will bring in an independent entity to verify sales.
- Zero-Tolerance Review Policy. Qwest will require 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 will require the offending individual be terminated immediately.
- Independent Audit Program. Qwest will engage an independent auditor to conduct an examination annually of the company's anti-slamming reporting processes, tracking mechanisms and all enforcement procedures to help determine areas for regular improvement. In addition, agents and distributors will be required to report to Qwest through a self-audit slamming complaints they receive and disciplinary action they take to correct problems.
In addition, Qwest appointed Mark Pitchford, former head of Southwestern Bell's Consumer Marketing Group, known for its anti-slamming program, as Senior Vice President of Consumer Markets, reporting to Qwest President and COO Afshin Mohebbi. Pitchford will be responsible for all operations and results in the Consumer Market, and he will lead the company?s expanded anti-slamming initiative.
"Through electronic monitoring of sales, increased agent training, distributor charge-back programs and constant work with federal and state authorities," said Nacchio, "we have slashed our incidents of slamming. But that's not good enough. Qwest prides itself on providing a highly valuable, customer-oriented service. We don't need ? and won't tolerate ? slamming to attract new customers."
Slamming is the unauthorized switching of a customer's telephone service to a new long-distance or local service provider. The illegal practice is often initiated by third-party agents who are compensated for each sale made. While Qwest has had a long-term program aimed at detecting and eliminating the practice, the company continues to experience some complaints.
"We are now implementing a hard-line program," said Nacchio, "that we believe is a benchmark for the industry. But slamming is an industry-wide problem that has gone on far too long. The time has come for all of us to work together to stop this violation."
Qwest Communications International Inc. (Nasdaq: QWST) 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, spans more than 18,500 miles in the United States, with an additional 315-mile network to be completed by the end of the year. In addition, KPNQwest, Qwest?s European joint venture with KPN, the Dutch telecommunications company, is building and will operate a high-capacity European fiber optic, Internet-based network that will span 9,150 miles when it is completed in 2001. Qwest also has completed a 1,400-mile network in Mexico. For more information, please visit the Qwest web site at www.qwest.com.
This release may contain forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. These statements may differ materially from actual future events or results. Readers are referred to the documents filed by Qwest with the SEC, specifically the most recent reports which identify important risk factors that could cause actual results to differ from those contained in the forward-looking statements, including potential fluctuations in quarterly results, dependence on new product development, rapid technological and market change, failure to maintain rights of way, financial risk management and future growth subject to risks, Qwest's ability to achieve Year 2000 compliance, adverse changes in the regulatory or legislative environment, and failure to complete the merger with US WEST timely or at all. This release may include analysts' estimates and other information prepared by third parties, for which Qwest assumes no responsibility. Qwest undertakes no obligation to review or confirm analysts' expectations or estimates or to release publicly any revisions to any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.
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