Carrier Change: The Words Matter

Usually without much fanfare, the FCC goes about the business of adjudicating slamming complaints under its TPV rules. This latest case underscores that the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau continues to strictly enforce the content requirements for confirmation of carrier change orders. This time, it emphasized that the rules require confirmation of a carrier change, not just a change to the customer’s service. Carriers should periodically review their verification scripts to ensure that they satisfy this increasingly literal standard applied by the FCC.

The latest case involves Consumer Telcom, Inc (CTI), a long distance carrier. CTI sought reconsideration of a Bureau decision granting a slamming complaint. The Bureau had concluded that CTI’s script did not fully comply with the TPV rules, specifically 64.1120(c)(3)(iii). That section requires a third party verification to confirm, among other things,

that the person on the call is authorized to make the carrier change.”

CTI’s TPV script asked the person on the call whether he or she

has the authority to make changes to their long distance service.”

In the Reconsideration Order, the Bureau found that this script was insufficient. Quoting its January 2008 order amending the slamming rules, the Bureau held that the TPV rules explicitly require confirmation that the consumer understands a carrier change would be made, not an upgrade to existing service, bill consolidation or other service modification. In the case of CTI, its TPV script confirmed the ability to make changes to service, but did not explicitly confirm authority to make changes to the service provider (i.e., a carrier change). The Bureau explained:

With respect to the TPVs at hand, the verifier’s question, Do you have authority to make changes to your long distance service?” did not confirm that the person was authorizing a change that would result in receiving service from a different carrier.

(emphasis in original).

The lesson for carriers is that each and every word in the TPV script matters. Carriers should make sure that their TPV script (and their LOAs) confirm all of the items enumerated in the slamming rules. Carriers may draft their own scripts, but each element must be clearly addressed. As the Bureau has shown time and again, failure to adhere to the exact requirements will invalidate the order.