MCI to repay customers of rival for billing error Bell Atlantic clients overcharged because of computer error

Telecommunications

August 04, 1998|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

WASHINGTON -- MCI Communications Corp. will reimburse Bell Atlantic Corp. customers overcharged for using an MCI "dial-around" discount long-distance service.

Under an agreement announced yesterday with the Federal Communications Commission, customers who were overcharged during an eight-month period starting in October will be credited within several months.

The FCC has received about 60 complaints on the issue.

"It was a fairly short-term problem," said Sharon Lee, an FCC spokeswoman. "The complaint level has dropped off significantly. We don't anticipate ongoing problems."

Because of a computer-switching error, Bell Atlantic customers who used the 10-321 service were charged regular long-distance rates rather than the discounted rate advertised. The service, offered by Telecom USA, an MCI subsidiary, is now known as 10-10-321.

MCI's regular rates run as much 40 cents a minute; 10-10-321's rates can be as low as 6.5 cents a minute. Fewer than 1 percent of all 10-10-321 calls were affected by the computer malfunction, said Brad Burns, an MCI spokesman.

He declined to specify how many customers were overcharged and how much they will be reimbursed.

MCI will work with Bell Atlantic to identify customers affected by the technical problem and will credit all callers who were overcharged, not just those who complained, the FCC said in a release.

"The FCC was a great help in making this come about," Burns said. "We couldn't have made this happen without the billing records from Bell Atlantic."

MCI is asking for billing information from Ameritech Corp. and the other regional telephone companies to make sure other customers weren't overcharged, Burns said.

Pub Date: 8/04/98

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