Long-Distance Carriers Offer ‘Slamming’ Plan

<i> Reuters</i>

Long-distance carriers proposed setting up an industry-funded administrator to resolve consumer complaints about unauthorized changes in service, a practice known as “slamming.” Under new Federal Communications Commission rules announced in December, consumers would take slamming complaints directly to the companies involved. “This industry proposal gives consumers with slamming complaints one place to call, taking the uncertainty out of where to turn with a dispute,” said Jonathan Sallet, chief policy counsel with MCI WorldCom Inc.

FCC officials said they were reviewing the proposal offered by MCI, AT&T; Corp., Sprint Corp. and associations representing smaller long-distance companies. A consumer would have a better result under the industry plan if the unauthorized carrier’s rates were similar to those of the consumer’s authorized carrier. But the consumer would be better off under FCC rules if the unauthorized carrier charged much higher rates (more than double the authorized carrier’s rates).