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Verizon Critics Seek Phone Bills To Study
Hunterdon County Democrat
  Thursday, January 31, 2002
  TeleTruth, an independent customer alliance, has started a "Send Us Your Phone Bill" campaign in New Jersey to help business and residential customers recover overcharges on their Verizon telephone bills. The group also wants to collect data for its assessment of the scope and character of phone billing problems in the state.

"The preliminary results of our "end-to-end" analysis of Verizon billing in New Jersey indicates that up to 50% of customer phone bills are incorrect due to faulty billing data and to practices and systems that fail to catch such errors," said Tom Allibone of West Amwell Township, director of TeleTruth's Auditing Division and president LTC Consulting.

The campaign has two purposes. First, TeleTruth is collecting phone billsas direct evidence for the Federal Communications Commission in order to block Verizon's entry into long distance in New Jersey. "Verizon and an independent auditor, KPMG, claim that the billing systems (OSS) have "zero defect--- a 100% accuracy. In our FCC-filed comments, we have provided actual phone bill problems caused by a defective Verizon billing system. This affects both residential and business customers, as well as all competitive phone companies.

"Our belief is that Verizon's application to enter long distance is prematuregiven the billing problem evidencewe've seen so far and the additional evidence we hope to obtain and evaluate from New Jersey phone customers who respond to our 'Send Us Your Phonebill' campaign," said Bruce Kushnick, TeleTruth chairman.

Verizon, formerly called Bell Atlantic, serves parts of Delaware, Kingwood, East and West Amwell townships, Stockton, Lambertville, the Milford-Warren Glen area, sections of Lebanon Township and the Centerville area.

Secondly, Verizon customers in New Jersey who participate in the "campaign" can have a free phone bill analysis, and may be entitled to refunds. This phone auditing service operates in partnership with LTC Consulting.

More information about how to join the New Jersey campaign and about the new TeleTruth customer alliance is found on the Web pages

According to Mr. Allibone, 'Right now, federal regulators are considering whether or not Verizon's OSS billing system is fixed enough to make sure that the network is working for everyone--- from customers to the competitors. We think the character and potential scope of the problems identified in our "end-to-end" audit of Verizon's bills suggests that regulators need to take a more comprehensive look at the system and procedures before giving Verizon the green light." Questions concerning the campaign can be directed to Mr. Allibone at (609) 397-2257.

Verizon customers should submit one complete copy of their monthly local service phone bill. TeleTruth's policy is to thoroughly protect the privacy rights of customers who submit phone bills.

Customers should mail their phone bills to: Tom Allibone, TeleTruth New Jersey, Box 480, Ringoes 08551.

It is important that consumers send their original phone bills, he said. "It will not be be returned unless you provide a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Do not send your long distance phone bill, unless it's part of your Verizon bill. And make sure you pay the bill before, sending it to us."

We will need the full name of the person responsible for the bill. For residential consumers, we will need a daytime reach number, the best time to call you and your e-mail address if you have access to the Internet. For small businesses, we will need the actual name of the company (as printed on the phone bill), a primary person who can act on your behalf, a reach number, fax number and e-mail address if you have access to the Internet.

If TeleTruth finds billing errors on the customer's phone bill, the customer will be contacted and the bill will be provided to the FCC as evidence. In addition, TeleTruth will work on the customer's behalf to secure a refund.

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