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Telephone companies top 2020 consumer complaint list

Lacey, Wash. – In 2020, landline telephone companies received more complaints than any other UTC regulated industry, followed by investor-owned energy companies, according to the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission.  

The commission is partnering with federal and state agencies to support National Consumer Protection Week, Feb. 28 to March 6. The annual campaign encourages consumers to know and understand their rights and responsibilities in order to make better-informed decisions. 

In its annual analysis of consumer complaints, the commission found 46% of the 698 complaints closed in 2020 were against landline telephone companies. 

Regulated companies issued nearly $50,500 in bill credits and refunds to customers as a result of 2020 consumer complaint investigations. 

Of the 320 complaints against telephone companies, customers received nearly $13,500 in bill credits or refunds. The most common complaints involved quality of service, disputed bills, customer service, disconnections, and delayed service. 

Commission staff closed 241 consumer complaints against regulated electric and natural gas companies, which led to about $30,500 in bill credits or refunds. The most common complaints involved disputed bills, customer service, quality of service, disconnections, and high bills. 

Regulated water companies, solid waste companies, and moving companies accounted for 137 complaints in 2020. Customers of these companies received nearly $6,400 in refunds or credits.  

The UTC’s Consumer Protection Help Line received about 4,700 phone calls, and staff also responded to over 2,100 letters, web complaints and chats, and emails from the public. In addition to resolving complaints, staff helped consumers find utility assistance, provided information on consumer rights, and assisted consumers in locating permitted residential moving and passenger transportation companies.  

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Consumers can file a complaint against a regulated company by calling the Consumer Protection Help Line at 1-888-333-WUTC (9882), emailing consumer@utc.wa.gov, or visiting www.utc.wa.gov/fileacomplaint

The UTC regulates the rates and services of the state’s investor-owned electric and natural gas utilities, landline telephone companies, solid waste haulers, private water systems, and residential movers among other industries. The agency also manages the state’s pipeline, railroad, and intrastate bus and trucking safety programs.