In order to provide fair and reasonable service to customers, there are specific requirements for how and when a company must notify its customers of changes, called customer notice requirements.
Noncompetitive telephone companies
There are specific rules for noncompetitive telephone companies.
Competitive telephone companies
Competitive telephone companies can increase rates only after providing ten days notice to customers and the commission, without commission approval. The company may notice customers by:
- Bill insert
- Bill message
- Printing on the billing envelope
- A separate mailing to all affected customers
- E-mail (if authorized by the customer)
The company must ensure that its customers receive the notice at least ten days before the price increase. No notice is required if the company lowers a rate.
Information on Rates, Terms and Conditions
Competitive telephone companies must provide access to rates, terms, and conditions, via the Internet. Companies must also make available, upon request, copies of its price list, bill, and notice it sends to customers. Since some telephone companies lower rates by offering new calling plans customers must sign-up for, this rule will make it easier for existing customers to stay informed of lower cost plans.
Cessation of Service
A telecommunications company must first give customers, the UTC, and other companies at least 30 days written notice before ceasing service. The purpose of the notice requirement is to give customers a chance to make other arrangements and avoid losing telephone service. The rule requires a second notice, either oral or written, to customers at least 15 days before ceasing service.
The cessation of service rule, WAC 480-120-083, was adopted by the UTC in January 2002 because of the possibility that a local phone company could cease operations or withdraw from a particular market and leave a customer without any telephone service.